I personally transferred from a local junior college to a University and know something of the ins and outs of transferring. Each school is different and there are different requirements and prerequisites, so make sure to do thorough research prior to applying to schools and also, of course, before graduation. It is wise to inquire and to speak with someone from your potential school to see if you need specific classes completed for your particular major. Some state schools require different courses than universities do. Sometimes within the school systems you can find out the generic courses that are needed in order to transfer, but if you have your mind set on a school, especially if it is difficult to get into, you will want to know this in advance.
The first step in finding out what you need before you transfer so you don’t waste time is to determine where you want to apply and also if you prefer a State School or a University. In California, for example, the Cal State requirements tend to differ in comparison to universities and some private schools. Generally speaking, most schools just require your units, but you may have to complete higher levels of math, science or even foreign language, and you will WANT to discover this early so you can complete your course requirements. You don’t want to be stuck having to do an extra semester or even summer or winter sessions to catch up. Also, you don’t want to take classes (unless you intend to take them) if they are not fully required. You want to be wise with your time, because each class is worth money and is an investment in your future.
Next, I would advise you to call your counselor on campus or the career center to help regarding college transfer questions. Most campuses should also have a “transfer center.” You should also be able to find the different state requirements online; for California, click here. The more you know about what you want to do and your major, the easier it will be to navigate and find out what you need to accomplish before graduating with your associate’s degree. If you flounder or if you are not proactive, you can prolong your time at a community college. Each person’s path is unique and some take longer than others—and there is nothing wrong with that, it just depends on how quickly you want to transfer from a junior college to a university or state school. If you’re interested in California, click here to learn more about admissions to University of California schools, and click here for California State schools.
[Sources: usnews.com; http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/transfer/index.html]
The next piece of advice is to become a full-time student if possible at 12 units or higher, as you are required to complete 60 transferable units after achieving your AA degree. Make sure your grades are above the average, as it is even more competitive to transfer to some colleges now. Make sure to also build relationships with your teachers and have one or two professors give you some advice or a letter of recommendation. If you want to be really proactive, you can begin your college essay on why you believe your college of choice should admit you to their campus. Have a parent or teacher review your letter and give you pointers.
One important factor in helping you decide where you want to transfer is visiting your campuses of choice. Then narrow down your decision. The sooner you know your school of choice, the sooner you will know which classes to complete. Make sure you decide on a school that you know is realistic for you to go to, especially one that is financially and/or academically what you are looking for. Yes, of course there are scholarships, and distance isn’t always an issue, but be serious about where you truly want to go because time is of the essence.
This leads me to my final point of advice: Whatever you do, do not procrastinate. When you are at a community college, start on this right away, and no, it’s not too late if you’re a sophomore, but you need to get on this so you can properly prepare for your transfer.
Tips on Transferring to a University or State School from a Junior College
1. Know where you want to apply: State School or University (public or private).
2. Find out the requirements. Go to a government site that helps students navigate prerequisites.
3. Call your on-campus counselor at your local community college.
4. Complete 12 units or higher per semester if you are able to in order to transfer within a two-year period, if desired.
5. Make sure your grades are at a good level so your units transfer. You don’t want to retake courses.
6. Get letters of recommendation for your potential school.
7. Practice writing your college essay.
8. Follow your passions and dreams.
9. Visit your campuses of choice and narrow down your decision.
10. Don’t procrastinate.
Good luck! I believe in you! You can do anything you set your heart and mind to!