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Phoenix Forward

5 tips on transferring from community college to a four-year program

Transferring from community college

With the sluggish economy, community colleges nationwide are flooded with students looking for a less expensive option for higher education.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 12.4 million students are enrolled in two-year institutions; 67 percent intend to transfer to a four-year college, the National Center for Education Statistics reports.

But what happens once these students receive their associate degrees and are ready to move to a four-year college?

“It can be an overwhelming process, and there is so much information out there,” says Brianna Bendotti, national director of Community College Partnerships at University of Phoenix.

Bendotti says transfer students often face confusion over how their courses transfer and how education aligns with their career tracks. In addition, they can have difficulty adjusting to new academic standards. Some students must deal with schedules that do not accommodate their work hours, and some must also cope with a feeling that they don’t fit in with students already attending the four-year institution. Bendotti offers tips for easing the transition:


Use the community college experience to uncover your passion.

By taking general education and elective courses, she says, students can explore areas of interest before they pursue a more concentrated program at a four-year institution.


Complete your associate degree before transferring.

“Community colleges work hard to design programs for university transfer,” Bendotti says. “Rather than taking courses sporadically, follow a road map of associate-degree courses. This will increase the likelihood of course transferability, and [it] also ensures you have a credential under your belt while you work on the bachelor’s program.”


Start transfer plans early.

“Visit universities of interest, talk to alumni of those institutions, [and] talk with hiring managers of companies you hope to work for,” she says. “Set a transfer target goal, and ensure you take enough associate-degree credits to meet that goal.”


Determine your best fit.

Bendotti says community college students need to look at various criteria before deciding which four-year college they want to attend. They need to consider whether the school can accommodate their work schedules, whether its programs will help meet career goals, and whether they prefer large lecture halls or smaller classes.


Use a transfer guide.

Before you enroll at a four-year school, use a guide to figure out which credits will transfer. A program-transfer guide outlines how community college associate degrees transfer into University of Phoenix bachelor’s degrees; a course-by-course transfer guide calculates how individual courses transfer from one institution to another.


University of Phoenix, like many universities, also provides advisors to help guide students through the transfer process. In addition, through its Community College Center of Excellence, University of Phoenix has formed alliances with community colleges and national and local employers to assess current workforce needs and to guide students into programs that can further their careers.

“Our employer partners inspire our education direction in fields like criminal justice, health care and manufacturing,” Bendotti says. “When transfer pathways and career pathways align, students win in transfer and in the workforce.”

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