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Get The Most From Community College

Last updated January 6, 2020

If you're attending community college with the intention of transferring to a 4-year university at some point in the future, it's important to understand what is required to transfer successfully.

Get your Associate's Degree, then transfer to a 4-year

Associate's degrees are the end result of 2-year community college programs. They generally come in three forms: 

There are several advantages to getting your Associate's before transferring to a 4-year university. When you transfer after earning your Associate's degree, the university you transfer to will admit you as a Junior if all credits transfer.

This means, after two years at a community college, you'll be in the same academic position as students who enrolled in a 4-year university at the same time you started at community college (except you'll probably have paid significantly less to get there because of the lower cost of community college!). You'll also be able to start taking classes relative to the major you chose right away.

Keys to successfully transferring with an Associate's

Start planning early with your academic advisor

Each university has different guidelines for what credits transfer and what credits don't. This means if you want to transfer without having to take (or retake) any additional classes to meet credit requirements, you will probably need to map out your community college classes from day one. Your academic advisor can help you map out the right classes to be successful.

Have a specific university in mind that you want to transfer to before you start your Associate's program

Because Each 4-year university has different credit requirements, choosing one university to transfer to and then building your class schedule around that university's transfer credit guidelines will help you ensure that you're taking the right classes.

It is also always a good idea to get in touch with the admissions counseling office at the school you'd like to transfer to. They'll be able to help guide you through how transferring to their university works. 

Use your time at CC to improve your resume or GPA, then transfer

You can still transfer to a 4-year university from community college even if you aren't interested in getting your associates degree. In fact, for students who just want to go to community college for a year or a few semesters instead of two years, this is probably the best option.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though.

  • Because you aren't earning an Associate's degree, your GPA, resume, and the rigor of your course load will play a larger role in earning an acceptance into the 4-year universities you apply to.
  • Even though you can technically take whatever classes you want because you aren't pursuing a degree at your community college, you should still make sure the classes you take will count at the 4-year university you want to attend. This will save you time and money.
  • You may miss out on "fun" 4-year activities like more club options, events, and sports activities.


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