The Value of the Transfer: Why Moving From Community College to a University is a Smart Move

By Ellie Walburg on July 31, 2018

When navigating how you can pursue your goals by furthering your education, there are a lot of factors that come into play. Things like your employment situation, your family schedule and your area of study all affect your next steps in finding an educational journey that will set you on a path toward success.

Sometimes, that journey may have started out at a two-year community college. Some students use attendance at a community college to gain credits so they can earn their undergraduate degree at a quicker pace.

After they get their feet wet by earning some credits at a community college, they transfer to a university to fulfill their education and pursue the career and life they desire.

Here, we share some insight into the value of transferring from a community college to a university so that you can achieve your goals in the way you want.

What's The Difference Between a University and a Community College

Aerial view of students sitting in a lecture hall

While both a university and a community college equip you with knowledge and experience in a particular field, they take on very different approaches.

At a community college, you typically can only earn an associate degree. According to an article by Erin Riskey from, these schools are sometimes called "two-year colleges" since associate programs can often be completed in as little as two years. They may offer a wide range of programs, but an associate-level degree is often the highest certification you can receive.

A university, on the other hand, offers a broader range of degree programs. A university may offer associate, bachelor's, master's and even doctorate programs. A university may also feature faculty who are working and involved in the fields of study that they teach. At a university, you can chase your unique goals in a community of learners without having to worry about relocating to a new school just to get the education you want.

Community colleges and universities may also have different admission requirements into the program. While some community colleges may have programs that include more selective requirements, universities overall tend to have much more specified requirements to join the program.

How Transferring Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Aerial view of calendar with a cup of coffee set on it

Although beginning at a community college to start earning credits can help you get back into the swing of school, there's only so much a community college can offer you.

The curriculum and programs may be limited. Community colleges often don't have the same accreditation or recognition as what a university may offer—and your future employer may be looking for that recognition on your resume.

That's why transferring from a community college to a university can help you take that next step toward achieving your goals with an undergraduate or graduate degree.

At a community college, you can work on fulfilling your general education requirements. Oftentimes, most of these credits can easily be transferred to a university. But getting practical experience and being equipped for your future endeavors involves more than just accumulating credits. At a university, you can deepen your passion for what you really want to do.

Tips for the Transfer Student

If you've started out at a community college, transferring to a university can be an easy and smooth process. Here are five tips to make that transition as smooth as possible so you can get on your way to achieving your goals.

1. Start By Planning Ahead

If you know that you want to transfer to a university upon starting at a community college, you can plan ahead. Take and schedule courses at your college that you know will transfer to the university you desire to attend later on.

An article by Jeremy Hyman and Lynn Jacobs from U.S. News says that the earlier you start to prepare for transferring to a university, the better off you will be.

You can also connect with an admissions counselor or academic adviser at both your community college and at the university you want to attend to ensure the courses you're taking will count as you continue to pursue your education.

You'll also want to know if your community college and the university have an agreement—known as an articulation agreement. This provides a smooth transition in knowing what courses could transfer or even replace those in a bachelor's degree program at the university.

If you know what path you want to take as you continue your education, planning ahead and knowing what to expect will be helpful in making the transition from community college to university smooth and seamless.

2. Communicate Regularly

As you plan ahead, you want to be sure you're in communication with all parties involved. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Meet regularly with your adviser at your community college. Stay in touch with an admissions counselor or adviser at the university you expect to transfer to.

Hyman and Jacobs note that keeping your academic advisers updated on all accounts helps you get the most out of your experience at a community college when transferring to a university.

3. Know the Admissions Requirements of the University

As you begin to dream of how your life will change for the better in transferring to a university, be sure you know the admission requirements of the university of your choosing. While schools may vary on the strictness and supplemental materials needed for admission, it's best to know ahead of time what you will need to do to get into that dream university.

You may need to follow along with admission requirements such as work experience, letters of recommendation and a minimum G.P.A.

4. Know the Credit Transfer Credit Policies of the University

Even if your community college and the university of your choosing has an articulation agreement—a document that shows what courses transfer and how—there may still be requirements that need to be fulfilled before your credits fully count.

For example, Cornerstone University's Professional & Graduate Studies division provides in-depth information on how transfer credits transfer. We also provide articulation agreements with various local community colleges to make your transition to the PGS classroom as smooth as possible.

5. Stay Focused on Pursuing Your Goals

You may be all-out excited and determined to continue your education by attending a university to fulfill that dream you've had for a while. You may be hesitant, wondering what the classroom, whether online or onsite, will be like since it's been so long since you attended school.

In either case, transferring to a university after an experience at a community college will equip you to achieve your goals and become the person who you want to be.

Embrace the Value of the Transfer

If you've started out at a community college, fulfilling your goals and continuing your education is a manageable process with the opportunities to transfer credits to a university. With your experience, knowledge and skills gained through a community college, you'll be set up to succeed as you further your education with an undergraduate degree from a university.

And at Cornerstone University, we strive to make transferring as easy as possible. Our academic advisers and enrollment counselors are here for you to discover a degree path that will equip you with the degree that can change your life.


Categories: Vocation, Why College