11/01/2013

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Planning Before Transferring Credits If you're taking college classes part-time because you have a day job, and you're planning on someday using all those class credits towards a degree, you need to have a plan. You don't have to know what degree or major you'll eventually have, (though that can make things easier later), but you do need to think about what classes will "count" towards your degree, and what classes won't. College classes have credits (sometimes called "units") assigned to them; think of them as a bit like points. You generally need a certain number of credits in various subject areas for the courses you take that aren't required by your major. Those are typically called "general education" requirements or classes. You might be required to have, for instance, 12 credits of English, for your general education requirements. If you're taking classes at a local community college, or through an online extension program, you want to make sure that those classes and credits will transfer when you start taking classes towards a degree. This can be a little tricky. The process of making the classes you take at one institution count towards a degree at another institution is called transfer credit, credit transfer, or advanced standing. When you formally apply to a college as an applicant, the college will ask for transcripts for all the other colleges you have attended. The college will evaluate each class on your transcripts in terms of your performance and the content of the class. They will decide, on a class-by-class basis which classes will transfer, how much credit will be assigned to each class, and whether or not the class will count towards your general education requirements and/or your major. What you should do is ask about transfer credit before you enroll in a course. Check with the school where you are taking the class, and, if possible, with the school where you hope to transfer. Typically, classes that are taught at accredited institutions within a state university system or state community college will transfer to colleges in that system, but you should ask before enrolling, and you should be aware that the status of an individual class may change. As a precaution, you should keep a copy of the class description in the school's official catalog, your work for that class, your transcript and, most especially, the official syllabus for the class. [Originally written for College Adviser]