Starting off in a community college can be the ideal way to pursue your academic goals. Academically, community colleges can offer smaller classes with more interaction with staff and financially, it can be much less expensive than going straight to a university. Just remember that after a customary two year commitment there is a transfer process that is followed, that is if you do want to continue towards your four-year degree. You should even start thinking about that process from when you start community college or even before, if only to ensure that you are on the right track.
What To Do
Here are some suggestions you can keep in mind to help you along your way.
Plan Ahead: Make sure you attend an accredited community college. Different universities may have different policies when it comes to transfer students, but one thing that is constant is that credits need to come from a formally recognized regional, national or professional agency. You may want to know where you want to transfer to even before entering community college in order to prepare the appropriate class schedules.
Talk to an Advisor or Counselor: Talking to your counselor can make the transfer process go more smoothly. They can advise you on class schedules and timelines that you will need to keep.
Major: You might want to decide on a major or at least narrow your interests to a certain field and take related courses. This shows universities that you are focused on your education.
Research: Each campus has its own list of requirements to be filled in order to transfer. They need to be thoroughly reviewed and followed or transferring to the school of your choice will be very difficult or not possible. Contact the admissions offices of those schools you are interested in and ask for their exact transfer policies.
Financial Aid: Do not be slack on keeping up on your financial aid applications. Talk with the financial aid offices at the universities you are looking into and check your options for loans, grants and scholarships.
Apply: Make sure you have followed all the requirements for each school you are applying to. They may very slightly or a lot but if you do not follow the steps and deadlines precisely, you may not get accepted or it may delay your opportunity to transfer.
Collaborative Transfer Program
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and Antioch University in Santa Barbara (AUSB) recently signed a an agreement formalizing a unique transfer arrangement between these two institutions. This liaison permits SBCC students to transfer up to three years of college credit to AUSB. This is one full year more than is accepted in transfer units to most four-year colleges and universities. After transferring, students may need to complete as little as one year of study at AUSB to complete their bachelor’s degree. This program allows for a cost-effective way of completing a college degree and allows students to remain in their present area rather than leave to complete their degree. SBCC students work closely with both schools to develop an academic transfer plan, essentially guaranteeing the transfer.
This type of relationship between schools makes a lot of sense. Hopefully it will catch on making “bridge programs” a viable way to finish that four-year degree.