Many students choose to attend a community college for the first two years of college and then transfer to a 4 year college. There are several benefits of going this route, especially if a student is not sure exactly what they want to major in or if they are strapped for cash to pay for college. Attending a community college can also provide a student an opportunity to improve their grades or to take an extra course or two that may help boost their application to a 4 year school.
Community colleges do tend to be perceived as easier academically than 4 year colleges, however the classes offered are the same general education classes that are given at any 4 year college, they are just much less expensive. Students attending a community college who intend to transfer to a 4 year school cannot afford to have the so-called community college attitude. If a student plans on transferring to a 4 year college, then they must begin as they plan to go on, meaning they must treat every class as if it were a class at a 4 year college already. This is the best way to ensure they will be prepared to transfer to a 4 year college successfully when they time comes.
Decide On a Major Early
Most universities and colleges will only take transfer students as juniors entering their third year of studies. Juniors should be focusing their studies on their major, so any student transferring in from a community college should have already taken most of the prerequisites for their major. This is why it is important to have decided on a major as early as possible.
Decide on Your School Early
When transferring from a community college to a 4 year college or university, it is even more important to select the right school than it may be to do it from high school. Since the student will be transferring after taking the prerequisite courses for their major, and probably most of their minor, they need to decide on their school so they can plan their class schedule for the next two years to be prepared to transfer. This will increase their chances of admission to the 4 year school of their choice. Additionally, they do not want to have to take additional prerequisite courses after they transfer because that will cost extra money and time.
Choose a Back-Up School
While it may not happen, it is possible to get rejected when a student tries to transfer to a 4 year school. If that happens, it helps to have a back-up school identified. This can be problematic if the student's major requires many prerequisites since major requirements will often vary between schools. The best recommendation is to try and find programs as similar to each other in course requirements as possible.
Take and Complete Major Prerequisites
This is very important. Most universities and colleges will not accept a transfer student unless they have completed the prerequisites for their major course of study. There may be some way to work out a summer study program, but they should not count on it. Additionally, the student should get as high a grade in these prerequisite courses as possible, but nothing lower than a B or there is no guarantee the course will be accepted for credit by the university or college. The higher the grade in the class, the better. Also, the student should double check with the selected 4 year college or university to ensure all prerequisite classes will transfer for credit before taking them.
Count the Classes That Will Transfer
Ideally every class the student takes while at the community college will transfer for credit to their chosen 4 year college or university. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, so the student needs to carefully research which classes they take will transfer and which will not so they know exactly how many credits they will have and how many they will need to complete to graduate when they begin their studies at the 4 year college or university.
Attending a community college before transferring to a 4 year college or university can be a great way to save money and get general education requirements out of the way. A student needs to ensure they know which classes they should take at the community college and that these classes will transfer for credit to the 4 year school where they want to go.