What’s it like transferring to a 4-year college

Many students view community college as a stepping stone to a four-year university. It’s a great way to earn an associate’s degree and save some money in the process. In fact, 37% of students transfer colleges each year.

If you’re planning on transferring to a university from a community college, it’s critical to prepare and plan ahead. Below you’ll find everything you need to know for a smooth transition.

Contact an academic advisor

Academic advisors are on campus as a resource to help you achieve your academic goals. Many are knowledgeable about what articulation agreements they may have with other schools. Articulation agreements are when two schools agree to accept credits from one another as well as outline the transition process.  

One semester before you plan to transfer, contact the academic advisor from the school you’re interested in attending. They will help you complete the transfer process and make sure things go smoothly.

Speak with your professors

Most, if not all, professors are part of a network of educators, both teaching at the community college and university level. Speaking with a professor about your intent to transfer could help you with the process.

Your professors might have contacts at the school you’re interested in and may be able to recommend classes for you to take. They may even write you a letter of recommendation to help you get accepted.

Understand your credit requirements

When deciding which classes to take while in community college, choose wisely. Don’t just take anything available, as you’ll need to take advanced classes and electives once you transfer to a university. So, if your major requires foreign language classes, make sure both schools offer the language you decide to enroll in.

The same thing goes for mathematics and elective courses. If you plan to continue studying a certain subject at the university level, check to make sure it’s offered, so you don’t find yourself starting from square one.

A great way to make sure you’re on track to complete your major once you transfer is to work with an academic counselor to make a plan and map out your classes.

Research financial aid options

In addition to filing your FAFSA®, it’s always a good idea to see what types of financial aid are offered by the school you’re planning on transferring to.

Many students decide to start at community college to save on costs because four-year universities are generally more expensive. If you are receiving minimal financial aid through the Pell Grant and/or Stafford Loans, it might not be enough for you to cover your tuition after your transfer. This is why you should be looking for more opportunities through different scholarships and grants.

Stay with the plan

Once you transfer, it might feel like you’re starting from square one. You’ll need to get to know new professors, fellow students, and the landscape of a new campus.

To help with the transition, join a club or student organization. Studies show that becoming more involved on campus helps transfer students transition and be more engaged with their studies.


The transfer process is ultimately in your control; you decide when and where you want to go, and no one else should be doing that for you. Make sure to research the schools you want to attend and choose the best one for you.