How to Transfer From Online College to a College Campus

How to Transfer From Online College to a College Campus

Planning to transfer from an online college to a traditional college campus? There are a few things you need to consider first. Transferring may come with a number of complexities and bureaucratic obstacles. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare for it can not only help you decide where to transfer but it can also ease the actual process.

If you are still shopping for the best school for you, check out our Custom College Ranking tool, where you can build a list of top schools based entirely on your needs, preferences, and specifications.

To learn more about the transfer process, read on...

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Look for Accreditation

Accreditation should be a primary consideration as you seek a transfer from an online college to a brick-and-mortar school. Accreditation refers to a formal review process determining whether or not a college or university meets a minimum threshold of quality and credibility. Accreditation must have been received by an accreditation association with recognition from the United States Department of Education.

In brief, there are two forms of school-wide accreditation—National Accreditation and Regional Accreditation.

National accreditation is often granted to religious institutions, professional or vocational schools, and many for-profit online colleges. But when it comes to academic institutions, regional accreditation is widely viewed as the superior form of accreditation. This is particularly important to note for transfer students because the type of accreditation held by your current online school will impact your transfer options.

Simply stated, if your online school does not have regional accreditation, it will be very difficult to transfer your existing credits or even your completed degree to a four-year school that does have regional accreditation.

There are six regional accreditation associations:

Be sure that your online school is accredited by one of these accreditation groups as this will have a direct bearing on your eligibility to transfer to a college campus with regional accreditation. If your online credits or degree have been earned at a school that only has national accreditation, this will limit your transfer options to brick-and-mortar schools with national accreditation, or no accreditation at all. Proceed with caution and conduct due diligence before considering such schools.

Provided your online college does have regional accreditation, you will also want to be sure that the brick-and-mortar school to which you transfer also has regional accreditation. The type of accreditation held by the school from which you earn your undergraduate degree may have a direct bearing on your eligibility to attend graduate school or hold certain jobs.

To learn more, check out What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

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Maximize Your Transferable Credits

As a transfer student, your primary goal is to maximize the number of credits that your new school will accept. Provided that you are transferring between two schools with equal accreditation, your status as an online student should not negatively impact your ability to transfer credits.

That said, there are a lot of factors that you do have to consider. Every school has its own transfer rules, and these can impact how many credits you will be able to transfer. Factors that can impact your ability to transfer credits include:

  • Course Equivalency—In order for your existing credits to be transferable, they must have been earned in courses with a close equivalent at your new school. Credits earned in specialized programs or electives may have no equivalent at your new school, which could impede their transfer.
  • Residency Requirement—Some colleges may require that a minimum number of credits be earned through that institution in order for a student to graduate. While this may not limit the number of credits you can transfer, you would ultimately have to complete added credits at your new school in order to earn a degree.
  • Credit Transfer Limits—Many colleges will impose a strict ceiling on how many credits you can bring with you to your new school. If you have completed more than half of your credits through your online school, there may be a limit to how many of these credits will be recognized by your new brick-and-mortar school.
  • Minimum Grade Threshold—Your new school may restrict the transfer of credits from courses where you did not meet a minimum performance threshold. Be aware that courses in which you earned lower than a “C” may not provide transferable credits.

As you look for transfer opportunities, take into account both how many credits you have already accumulated and the specific rules governing credit transfer for each school on your list. Prioritize those schools that maximize the number of credits you can transfer based on your personal situation.

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Look for an Articulation Agreement

Speaking of maximizing your credit transfer opportunities, one of the best ways to do this is to look for schools that have an articulation agreement in place with your current online college. Articulation agreements are formal relationships between accredited community colleges and public four-year universities that are designed to ease and streamline the transfer process. An articulation agreement can reduce the number of procedural steps and bureaucratic hurdles to transferring.

Moreover, schools with articulation agreements in place are often better equipped to recognize course equivalency. This can ultimately maximize the number of credits you can transfer to your new school. Moreover, because articulation agreements often revolve around regional relationships, this could be a great way to identify a target school close to home. Finding a campus in close proximity to your home can be a great way to help ease the transition from online courses to in-person learning.

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Find Out How Your Credits Apply to Your Major

In addition to determining which of your credits will transfer, you need to determine how these credits will transfer. Transferring credits will help advance you toward the goal of graduation. But you also need a clear understanding of how your credit transference will impact the pursuit of your chosen degree. There are several questions you need to ask as you prepare for transfer:

  • If you have earned an associate degree in a chosen discipline, you will need to know whether or not that degree applies to the same discipline at your new school.
  • If you have completed a number of prerequisites toward your major, you will need to know whether or not these credits will still be counted as fulfilling the same prerequisites at your new school.
  • If you have completed a number of courses within your major, you will need to know whether or not these credits fulfill the same requirements for degree-completion in your new school.

The rules for every school are different. Find out everything you can about how your transferrable credits will be applied before making a commitment. And if you think that you might want to take this opportunity to shift gears, consider choosing from one of the 10 Most Popular College Degrees. After all, these degrees are popular for a reason!

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Take Advantage of Student Support Services

If you are preparing to make the transition from online education to in-person learning, it may take some time to adjust. Whether you have become accustomed to the self-paced nature of online education or it has been a few years since you had to engage in live class discussion, it may take some time to adapt. If you are struggling in any way-academically, socially, financially, or emotionally-be sure you tap into the support services available at your new school. One of the great advantages of now being part of this campus community is that you have access to learning resources, mental health support, financial aid advice, and more. Be sure you utilize these services as needed.

For more on making this adjustment, check out our Guide to Surviving College

Need some help transferring to the top school on your list? Check out our directory of College Admissions Consultants & Counselors by State and get a leg up on the competition!

Are you looking for information on how to transfer from a college campus to online college? We can help with that! Check out our guide to making that transfer.

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