Five Steps For A Smooth Transfer
Step 1: Starting Early to Plan Ahead
Although you may intend to spend two years at VSCC, you should begin making your transfer plans the very first semester you enroll with us. You have several resources available to assist you with your transfer plans. Advisors and counselors are ready to help you to define your long and short-term goals, evaluate where you are academically and assist you with your course selection. You also have access to college catalogs, transfer guides or 2+2 plans, transfer admission information and university applications. Another valuable resource is to connect with the admission and outreach counselors who work at the four-year universities. It’s never too early to begin making contacts!
Step 2: Choosing the Right Institution
There are many things to consider when choosing the university to which you intend to transfer. Before your mind gets boggled, first decide on some basic criteria:
Do you intend to stay in the Nashville area or are you open to relocating? Do you prefer a rural setting, the city or the suburbs?
You can break colleges down into three basic sizes. Small (less than 5,000), medium (5,000 10,000) and large (10,000+).
Public or Private
Public institutions are supported by state tax dollars. Private institutions are independent and self-supported. Some private schools have ties to religious organization and others are “non-sectarian”, meaning they have no relationship to a particular group.
Tuition costs in Tennessee can range from around $1,500 to over $20,000. Though there can be substantial differences in the price of tuition between public and private institutions, don’t make cost your first reason for excluding or including a college. If you are interested in a particular school, take the time to find out if scholarships, grants or financial assistance are available.
Do they have your field of study? Don't forget to ask this important question. While many colleges offer majors in subjects such as English, History and Business, other majors (e.g. Architecture, Marine Biology or Nursing) are only offered at selected schools.
Step 3: Investigating Your Choices
The more you know about your school choices and the sooner you know it, the smoother your transition will be. To decide if a college is the “right fit” for you, begin asking some important questions:
What is the minimum grade point average (GPA) to be considered for admission? Do grades of “D” transfer, or is the lowest grade accepted a “C”? Are there additional admission requirements for your intended degree, such as a portfolio, completion of certain courses or a higher GPA minimum?
Minimum and Maximum Credits
Most institutions have a minimum number of hours that students can transfer with to be eligible for “transfer admissions status”. There is also a maximum number of credits that are transferable from a community college. (In Tennessee, most 4-year institutions will accept up to 66 credit hours.) You should also find out if Advanced Placement credits earned while in high school or other types of test-based credits such as CLEP count in the total number of credits you can transfer.
One of the best ways to get an idea of an institution’s “personality” is by a visit to the campus. You'll want to include in your visit an interview with an admissions counselor, academic advisor and financial aid/scholarship officer, a visit to at least one class if possible, a meal in the student union, and an overnight stay in a residence hall, if applicable.
Step 4: Getting Organized
There are many deadlines to adhere to in the transfer process and the more organized you are, the less likely you will be to run into problems. A couple of areas you need to pay particular attention to include:
Schools in Tennessee operate on a semester system, which means they have two academic terms per year (fall and spring). Summer terms are optional and may have a separate deadline or one coinciding with fall applications. Application deadlines vary greatly though typically the larger the school, the earlier the deadline.
Financial aid is awarded on an academic year basis. You need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between January 1 and March 1 for the next Academic Year. You must reapply for financial aid every year. Some colleges may also have an additional form for you to fill out, but all require the FAFSA.
Some schools have a different deadline for scholarships than that for financial aid while other use the same deadlines for both. Always contact the financial aid office, or scholarship office if it’s in a separate area, EARLY to know your timeline.
When you are filling out college, financial aid or scholarships applications, you are completing legal documents. Keep copies of everything you submit. Also when you talk with someone from a college, note who it was you spoke with, the date, time and the subject matter. Colleges get hundreds of phone calls and the more information you have, the better they can serve you.
Step 5: Developing a Strategy
If you have done your homework on schools, are keeping good records and are working with an VSCC advisor or counselor, you are well on your way to a successful transfer. Time to form your strategy.
Unless you are entering a field that has many lower division major requirements (e.g. engineering or music) you may want to concentrate on your general education or core courses. If you plan to transfer to a Tennessee public institution, you should follow the VSCC General Education Core, which will transfer to any public institution in Tennessee to meet the general degree requirements. Other resources available to assist you with course selection include transfer guides & 2+2 plans. These plans list the first two years of coursework that you can take at VSCC to transfer to a specific school for a specific degree. You can obtain transfer guides either on the web (VSCC Transfer website) or in the VSCC Advising or Counseling Centers.
As a transfer student, you will probably apply to fewer schools than if you were a new freshman, but you should still consider using the same method of categorizing your choice. If you have done your homework, then you should be fairly certain of your chances to be admitted at any given school. But you should still have “alternatives” in case you aren’t admitted, the financial aid doesn’t work out, or you simply change your mind. Locking yourself into one transfer choice sets you up for lots of potential difficulty if everything doesn’t happened exactly as planned.
You know it’s never too early to start planning your transfer process. The same could be said of your career process after you transfer and obtain your bachelor’s degree. Working with potential employers now will help guide you toward what courses you’ll want to take, what kind of internship possibilities there are and what the outlook for employment is in that field when you graduate.The transfer process is an important one but it does not have to be a chore. If you stay on top of things, you can have a good time in your search for the right transfer school. The sooner you begin your process, the more time you will have to enjoy the payoff when you make that smooth transition!