If you haven’t been living under a rock in 2020, then you know that most students haven’t been able to go to college on campus this year – and 2021 is still up in the air for many campuses across the nation (and around the world). But although this year has seen a lot of students choosing to stay home and attend local college classes online, the question of transferring from community college to university has been around for many years before this pandemic. 

This isn’t new territory, so no need to panic about how it’s done! Transferring from your local community college to a larger university can be done – and done easily. We’ve seen many students transfer like this, and have several tips and things we want you to keep in mind along the way!

Have a Game Plan for Transferring from Community College to University 

A lot of students who start out at community college know before even attending classes that this is not the long-term plan. They have a larger college or university in mind and only plan to stick around town for the first 2 years while they complete their general studies. 


There are LOTS of benefits to attending community college first before heading off to a larger university. If you know this is the plan, then you need to keep that goal in mind from the very beginning. If it’s something you decide later on, that’s okay too, but as soon as you even think you might want to transfer, you need to start looking into it to make sure you have enough time to actually do it. 

Talk to your Advisor EARLY

Your academic advisor is going to be your best friend during this process (or your college and career advisor). He or she has probably already gone through this process and will know the steps you need to take as far as applying, transferring credits, and maintaining financial aid. They’ll know who to talk to in the registrar, financial aid department, and admissions office, which are all stops you’re going to need to make along the way. 

So make sure when you are first arriving on campus or even if you’re just toying with the idea of transferring, that you let your advisor know upfront. This will be a key component to a successful transfer. 

What Does It Take? 

Even though you’re not heading to the university yet, you need to be in touch with their admissions office. Find out what their deadlines look like for transfer admissions, and what the application process will be. Each university will be different in these aspects, so if you have more than one in mind to transfer to in the future, you will need to contact them all to ask about their specific transfer requirements. Be sure to ask about financial aid, credit transfer, and the application process. 

Once you have the information, set those deadlines on the calendar so you don’t miss them! The last thing you want is to be stuck will all your general education courses done, but having to wait another year for the university to open up its transfer admissions again. With this information, you can map out a unique program for you with your advisor to make your transition as smooth as possible. 

Will You Lose Credits? 

This is a MAJOR question when it comes to transferring from community college to university, and the answer isn’t straightforward. It all depends on the two schools you are working with. Lots of students think that just because a course counted for their community college, that it will count at their chosen university. 

And this is NOT true. Different houses, different rules. 

As soon as you know that you want to transfer, you need to contact your second school – the university you will be transferring to – and ask them about their requirements for credit transfer. Each university has unique rules for which classes will transfer, and which won’t. 

And the only person that can answer this question for you is the university. 

Once you know how their credit transfer system works, you can strategically choose which classes to take at the community college so they’ll transfer well (and you won’t waste your time or financial aid). But you should also keep in mind that it’s not only if a course will transfer or not, but whether the course will plug into your intended program

You will likely have lots of options for courses that satisfy your general education areas at the community college, but certain majors at the university level may have required courses that you need to take during your general education years as well. For example, your major program at the university might require prerequisite courses, specific math courses, or foreign language components. Just because a course counted for these areas at your community college doesn’t guarantee that the next school will accept it. 

Do your research BEFORE taking your community college courses!

Remember, This Is Still College

One of the hardest parts about transferring from community college to university is the fact that those first 2 years at community college can feel “not real” for a lot of students. Many of them make the mistake of not taking their community college seriously. It’s true that you’ll probably still live at home with your parents, maybe work the same part-time job you did in high school, and won’t be seeing a lot of new faces around campus. 

But if you want to transfer to a larger college or university in two years, then this time at your community college MATTERS. 

If you blow off your classes and your grades are reflective of that, it will greatly hurt your chances of being able to transfer to your dream school. And when you do get to transfer, you’ll lack valuable skills that you were supposed to be getting during those first two years – such as how to study, how to take an exam, and how to take your studies seriously, even if your peers are not. 

Remember that these two years are a part of the plan. Use your time wisely.

Know That Plans Change

At the same time, a lot can happen in two years. I know you have a dream of going to a fine university, and you should 100% keep that dream. But have a plan B. It’s the wisest thing you can do. 

Don’t beat yourself up if you come to the end of your time at your community college and find yourself either not wanting to leave, or unable to leave for some reason. Things change, that’s life. But the last thing we want is that you feel STUCK at your community college, because this will inevitably lead to you quitting school altogether, and it’s much harder to come back later in life than it is to finish it now. 

So take this time seriously, and treat community college like you imagine yourself treating the bigger university you want to go to someday. Your future self will thank you for it, no matter which path you end up taking. 

Feeling Lost in Transition? 

Maneuvering the ins and outs of university admissions, credits, financial aid, and academic rigor can be stressful, overwhelming, and complicated. And that’s not what we want your college experience to be about. Contact us today to map out your unique journey with an expert college and career advisor.

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