California State University (CSU)

Tips for Students Transferring to a California State University

The two main ways students go about jump starting their college years is to either apply directly to a college/university or go in as a transfer student. When it comes to transfer students in particular, the route from point A to point B is one that must be carefully thought out and well planned for. Students hoping to transfer to a California State University will want to make sure to follow the tips below to ensure that they are on course at all times.

Plan Well in Advance

It is ideal to begin planning your goals for transferring to a California State University before even applying for a community college. Make an effort to sit down and consult with a guidance counselor either from your high school, the community college you’re thinking about applying to or other qualified academic advisor. Knowing what California State University you’d like to transfer to in the future will be very helpful while talking with the academic advisor as to what route you should pursue.

Research, Research, Research!

While guidance counselors and academic advisors are professionals in this field, do not expect them to do all of the work for you. It is vital that college bound students take the steps necessary to know what to expect when it comes to the transfer process. There are 23 California State University campuses, all with their own majors and degree programs. Each campus also has its own list of requirements for transfer students that will need to be thoroughly reviewed. Keep a list of the CSUs you would like to apply to and visit each school’s official website, which will state the details of their requirements and application process for transfer students.

It is best to have this list of schools and information handy when meeting with your academic advisor. The more information available, the easier it will be for them to help you strategically map out your community college years effectively. The goal is to create as smooth of a transition process as possible when going from a community college to a California State University.

Upper-Division or Lower-Division Transfer?

In addition to finding out which courses you’ll need to take at a community college to successfully transfer to a California State University, it is a good idea to plan on whether you want to transfer in as a lower-division or upper-division student. According to the California State University system, students with less than 59 college credits (semester) or less than 89 college credits (quarter) are classified as being lower-division transfers. Those with 60+ college credits (semester) or 90+ college credits (quarter) qualify as upper-division transfers. Students should note that some CSUs only accept upper-division transfers.

Most students opt to come in as upper-division transfers because at this point in their college career, they have completed the prerequisites needed to begin enrolling in core classes that count towards their major.

Take Transferable Classes

Many community college students find themselves delayed in transferring to a California State University because of failing to complete courses that are accepted by the school they would like to transfer to. Again, this goes back to doing thorough research into each school’s list of requirements for transfer students. No two California State University campuses are alike. Once you find out what courses are transferable, make a note of it and focus on enrolling in and completing those classes as soon as possible. If necessary, check in with your academic advisor to make sure you haven’t overlooked any courses.

Note the CSU Deadlines

While pursuing your community college classes in preparation for transferring to a California State University, be mindful of your time frame. Tap into your academic advisor’s expertise to help you figure out which year and semester/quarter you would like to transfer from the community college. Once a goal date has been set, prioritize the courses you plan on taking and dedicate yourself to completing those classes on time. Retaking any classes or not being able to get in could potentially delay your goal date so plan accordingly for such a possibility.

Follow CSU Instructions

Once you’re ready to take that long awaited step of filling out the application to transfer to your dream California State University campus, go over the instructions with an eagle eye. Attention to detail at this point is very important because any errors or incomplete applications will be rejected, further delaying your opportunity to transfer. Maintain an organized file of your transcripts, letters of recommendation and other school related documentation so that they are easy to find when you are ready to submit them. Make copies of everything for your personal records. Be mindful of the application deadlines as well. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your application properly.

Don’t feel limited to applying to one school, either. Submit to as many California State University schools as you want—as long as you meet the transfer requirements. The more schools you apply to, the higher your chances of being accepted will be.

Be Realistic

What some potential transfer students often don’t realize is that there is no guarantee that they will be accepted to their preferred California State University campus. Just following the transfer requirements alone for a particular school isn’t enough to secure enrollment. It is on a case-by-case basis. International and out-of-state transfer students may have to deal with more stringent requirements and standards, while regular transfer students might find it more difficult to transfer to a certain California State University school due to the major they want to pursue.

Do not be discouraged by this fact, however. Through research, consultation, planning and effort, any student can improve their chances for successfully transferring to the college of their dreams. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the school(s) you want to apply to and do what you can to turn yourself into the ideal candidate that they’ll gladly welcome, such as participating in extracurricular activities, maintaining a high GPA and becoming involved in a community oriented project or organization.