Choosing a college isn’t easy, and many students have a change of heart after making their initial decision. In fact, more than one-third of college students transfer schools, and almost half of those individuals switch schools more than once, a 2015 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows.
For the many students who decide to switch schools, one of the most important factors is how (and if) their previously earned credits will transfer to their new college. While policies can change from school to school, here’s how the process usually works when transferring college credits:
Credit earned at another college
It’s incredibly common for students to transfer college credits they earned at another college. However, new or prospective transfer students should keep in mind that many factors go into whether their new school will accept previously earned credits.
For students who want to transfer college credits:
- The first step is usually ensuring that the previous institute is regionally accredited. If it is, they will then need to mail their official transcripts to their new school for review.
- The school then evaluates each course the student has taken to see how it compares to the classes it offers.
- Based on this evaluation, schools can then offer students standard course credits that can be applied to their major or elective credits that can be used for graduation requirements.
- If the school decides that any of the courses are not eligible for credit, students can appeal this decision. This is often done by submitting documents like course descriptions, syllabi or other course materials.
Credit for life experience
Through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), students can earn college credit for topics they have already mastered. This is particularly useful for those who have spent time in the workforce or the military and want to apply the many skills they’ve gained in the classroom. With CLEP, students can choose from 33 exams in topics like American literature, Spanish, calculus, financial accounting, information systems and chemistry. Based on students’ scores on these exams, schools can then decide if they should receive course credit for their knowledge.
Credit earned in high school
Today, many students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school. However, like the CLEP, whether students get credit for these courses depends on how well they score on their exams. In general, students who score a 3 or above on their AP exams have a good chance of receiving credit, but the exact score requirements vary from school to school (and even from test to test). For this reason, students should always check with their university to review the specific AP transfer policy.
Hoping to transfer to the University of South Dakota? Check out our policies on transferring credit to see why so many students choose to continue their education at USD.