The Perfect Path Through Community College

Thursday, February 15, 2024
Students Testing Evan Wessler

High school graduates attend community college for many different reasons, including lower costs, more flexible scheduling, and the ability to stay close to home. For some students, transferring to a four-year university is the goal. If this sounds like you, it’s vital to understand that this process will take a great deal of effort on your part, and knowing what you need to do is critical to your success. 

Discover the steps you must take to ensure you get on the right track toward your ultimate goal.

Do What You Can to Skip Remedial Classes

You’re unlikely to get any community college transfer credit for remedial courses. Still, it’s not hard to find yourself sitting in one during your tenure at community college. Many institutions rely solely on placement tests to decide whether students must take these courses. Unfortunately, studies have shown that not all of these tests are accurate and may result in misplacement for approximately 33% of students.

How can you avoid filling your schedule with remedial classes you don’t need? First, search online for “community college near me” and see if any nearby campuses provide free study guides and materials. Also, make sure you set aside time to study for placement tests. 

If you are still placed in a remedial course you know you don’t belong in, appeal the decision and advocate for a different placement. Make sure you provide evidence you can do well in non-remedial courses, such as your high school GPA.

Decide on a Major As Early as Possible

It may seem daunting to commit to a course of study early on in your college journey, but it will benefit you during the transfer process. While you may be tempted to take classes for fun or explore career options, you will likely end up with a bunch of general credits that won’t transfer from community college to university or apply to your major when you get there.

Selecting a major early will give you a sense of focus, helping you gain critical knowledge and skills for success. Additionally, it will motivate you to take the prerequisite courses for that major so you can hit the ground running once you transfer.

Partner With Your Advisor to Develop a Plan

Community colleges are no strangers to the transfer process. They often have transfer programs and advisors available who have specialized knowledge to assist students transferring to a four-year university. You should meet with one of these advisors as soon as possible.

A transfer advisor can give you career resources to help you decide on a major and start a list of target universities. Most importantly, they will assist you in creating a course plan that will push you closer to your goal and help you maximize your college experience.

Research Critical Information About Universities

A successful community college transfer experience requires that you conduct in-depth research so that you’ll be fully prepared. You’ll want to know how much it costs to attend the school (including room and board if you want to live and eat on campus), what financial aid options are available, what resources you’ll have in the surrounding town or city, and the overall campus culture. 

It is also helpful to understand the average GPA for admitted transfer students and the terms of any transfer agreements the university has with your community college.

Having these details at your fingertips will help ensure that you are personally, academically, and financially ready for the transition. It also makes it more likely that you will be able to complete all the requirements to obtain your degree.

Fully Prepare for the University Transition

Your mental state is critical in the transition from community college to university. If you conducted a search for “community college near me” and chose a school from that list, you’re probably used to being in a small environment in a familiar town with a lot of support available on campus.

University life can be very different, especially if you’re traveling far away from home or living in a location very different from where you grew up. You’ll face a bigger campus and student body and more rigorous academics. Do what you can to prepare by taking a student success course to work on your study and time management skills. You may also want to talk to a counselor to see how you can 

Start Early, Stay Committed, and Be Tenacious

The key to successfully creating and navigating the perfect path from community college to a university is to start early and stay committed throughout the process. If you wait too late, you will have wasted a lot of time and money on classes that don’t transfer, and you may not be able to course-correct in time.

Make sure you do what’s necessary to keep yourself motivated, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and advocate for yourself. The future you want can be yours, but you will have to work for it. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you will likely reap the rewards.