Attending a community college before a university has become a very popular choice as of late. Community colleges are a good place to catch up on academics if you are not prepared to go to a university straight out of high school.  They are also more available, meaning one would not have to move out of their parents’ house to attend, and they are also thousands and thousands of dollars cheaper than attending a university straight away.

However, community colleges tend to get a bad rap about how easy and laid-back they are.  You have to keep in mind though, that the general education that you are getting done with before you transfer is the same as the general education that university students are taking.  You cannot have this laid-back attitude or you will end up following the stereotype of people who take more than two years to complete their “2 year school” studies. If you are a prospective community college student that is still in high school or a current community college student, you need to already be thinking about transferring.

Here are some key things you need to get done if you are going to transfer on time or at all.

Figure Out your Major Early.

Most universities only take transfer students as they are entering their third year of college.  That means that when you get to your new school, your studies will now be focusing on your major.  You need to figure out this major early so you know the prerequisites (classes you must take in order to prepare yourself for the major and classes within the major you choose) and which college you want to go to.

Choose a School Early.

Choosing a school is even more important as a transfer student than as a high school student. Not only are you deciding all the factors that go into a school, like the area, how far you are from home and all that, but now you also have to incorporate the major you chose.

For example, I live in California and go to a community college. I want to major in International Relations and minor or double major in Economics. I also want to go to a UC. There are only about three of four UCs that have both of those majors.  I cannot just say alright cool so I’ll do my general education and choose which one later because they all have different prerequisites for those majors and there is no way I could finish all of them within two years.  This is why you need to figure out the school you want to attend early so you can get the prerequisites done with.

Choose a backup school

Applying for a school as a transfer student is similar to the way all of your high school friends applied as seniors. You can still get rejected. So, you want to have more than one college in mind that you will apply to. This, however, gets tricky because like a mentioned before, the prerequisites for a major at one school can vary at another. There is really no easy solution to this, unless you want to major in something that has no or very few prerequisites.

The other not so attractive solution is that the prerequisites at a not so “prestigious” school, seem to be easier or at least fewer.  For example, the UC I want to transfer to has seven prerequisites for the International Relations major, while the local state college only has one for that major.  So, bottom line, if you want to go to this dream college you originally chose, then you need to work really hard, get good grades, and complete the prerequisites to better your chances of acceptance.

Complete the major’s prerequisites

I have already mentioned this a lot, but it is important. Most schools will not accept you unless you have the prerequisites for your chosen major completed. If they do accept you without completing all of them, you will still have to take them at that school which may force you stay there longer than two years, making you lose a lot of money. So, get them done!

Make Sure the Classes you are Taking are Transferable.

While you are getting you GE completed you need to make sure every single class you are taking will transfer to the college you plan to attend. If the college you want to transfer to is in the same state as your community college then chances are your current school’s course catalog will tell you which classes are transferable.  If you want to transfer out of state, you may have to do more research by exploring the other college’s website, or calling them, or something.

If you are taking a class that does not transfer, like pre-algebra or non college level English then you need to make sure you do not count that class’s units when adding up the total you need to transfer to your university in mind.

Get Good Grades

You need to get good grades. This is important to not only have a competitive application but it may also be required. The school I am looking to transfer to requires my GPA to be at least a 2.8 in order to transfer, and my GPA of my major prerequisites to be at least a 3.2.

Research Transferring on your own.

Transferring to a university is complicated, and I really only covered the basic information you need to know, so you need to do more research. Transferring from a community college to a university differs from state to state and from university to university. Also, do not be afraid to go to your school’s counselors or advisers.  They are very helpful and can give you all the information I gave you here and much more.