Transferring from a Community College to a Four-Year College - Student Research Foundation

Is Transferring from a Community College to a Four-Year College Still a Good Strategy?

To save on college costs, about 100,000 American students every year follow a simple strategy . . .

They go to community colleges for two years, then transfer to four-year state or private colleges and complete their undergraduate work there.

This strategy is appealing for some very sound reasons:

  • Students can cut the cost of obtaining a degree from a four-year college by one-third, or more.
  • High school students who lack the qualifications to be admitted to selective colleges can sometimes gain admission to them by doing well at community colleges prior to applying.
  • The process of applying to state schools can be streamlined and inexpensive. Students can be admitted easily and seamlessly. In some cases, even application fees are waived.

It Is a Good Strategy, But . . .

Whether you are a student, a parent, or someone who counsels students, here is some advice to consider:

  • Have an admissions strategy in place before entering a community college. Before starting to study at a community college, it is best to identify the four-year colleges that will welcome your application. In general, state universities are open to accepting applicants who have studied at in-state community colleges. But according to data from the Edvance Foundation, selective private institutions are less likely to accept transfers from community colleges. So the best strategy is to talk to admissions representatives at four-year institutions and find out exactly how community-colleges can gain admission.
  • Find out whether an associate’s degree is needed before applying. Some state institutions require applicants to have earned two-year associate’s degrees before they can apply. Other state schools do not. It is best to know before making plans.
  • If possible, have a college major and a career plan in place. Starting a third year at a four-year college without having decided on a major is generally inadvisable. But if a student knows that he or she will major in, say, medical technologies, the path can be streamlined. He or she can take the right courses in community college and follow up with more advanced studies at a four-year school.

Want to know more about your college and career options? Participate in the National Career Pathway Study and receive information on college and career opportunities which match your interests.

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