University Transfer Myths

According to U.S. News & World Report, about 30 percent of college students will transfer to a different college.  Students may decide to transfer for a variety of reasons-- they may want to be closer to home, or they have decided to pursue a different major.  Regardless of the reason, many transfer students are faced with common misconceptions regarding the transfer process.

Myth: I am going to transfer, so what I do now doesn't matter. I can fail out of this school and still get into another school.

Truth: Your grades always matter. Most four-year colleges and universities require a transfer student to have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) for admission.  Plus, there may be a second set of criteria, such as grades in specific prerequisite classes used to be admitted into a specific degree program.  Your GPA at one institution does not affect your GPA at another institution, but it can definitely help or hurt  your chances of getting in.  If it is high enough, it may even help you qualify for a transfer scholarship.

Myth: My financial aid goes with me wherever I go.

Truth: It depends. If your financial aid is in the form of a merit-based scholarship, it may not be transferable.  Each college or university will award scholarships based on different criteria.  If your financial aid is in the form of a student loan, it may transfer.  If financial aid plays a role in the decision to transfer, it is best to discuss the possibilities with financial aid representatives at both your staring school and your transfer school.

Myth: If I transfer, it will take forever to graduate.

Truth: With early planning and use of transfer resources, students can transfer and still graduate in the same length of time as those who started at that university.  If you are planning on transferring, refer to articulation agreements and transfer guides between the two institutions.  These agreements and guides explain what will transfer and how it will apply to a degree program.  Web sites such as (for Arizona's public institutions) offer a wealth of information regarding course equivalencies, math and language requirements by major, general education course options, and much more.  If you plan to transfer out of state, it can be a little trickier,.  Work with your current academic advisor and one at your transfer institution, if possible, to match up the curriculum as much as you can.  Make sure to discuss the type of accreditation both institutions hold to find out if they are transfer-compatible.

Myth: Community college credits are not accepted at the university.

Truth:  Most community college credits are designed for transfer.  It is very common for students to begin at a community college and transfer to a four-year institution when ready.  Something important to keep in mind is that even if a course is transferable, it may or may not be applicable to your degree program.  If you want to graduate in a timely manner, you will want to take classes that transfer and apply to your program.

Myth: There is no reason to take classes that are not required for transfer.

Truth: Most college students want to graduate as soon as they can, but sometimes it is good to take a class (or two, or three!) just to help you narrow your interests, decide on a career path, enrich your personal life, or increase your work skills.  As a bonus, they just might count as elective credit toward your degree.  But if not, don't automatically count them out.

Myth: If I transfer, I'll feel like an outsider.

Truth: You are not alone! There are many students who transfer at any given time during their college career.  Make sure to attend new student orientation, or ask about tours or student groups designed for transfer students.

Myth: I can transfer whenever I want.

Truth: While you may make your decision to transfer at any time, it is wise to know how many credits could transfer and the minimum GPA the receiving college or university requires for admission.  As a general rule, Arizona's public universities accept up to 64 credits (roughly two years of full time coursework), with some program-based exceptions when more coursework is accepted.  Completing your lower-division general education requirements, program pre-requisites, or an associate's degree prior to transferring will usually6 facilitate a smoother transfer and greater applicability.

Myth:  To transfer, all I need is an application.

Truth: Each college and university has different transfer requirements- students will always need more than an application.  Fortunately, most institutions' web sites have step-by-step guides for the transfer process.  Online resources, along with guidance from college personnel, will help you keep track of your progress in meeting all requirements.

Myth: Every college is the same, so it doesn't really matter where I transfer.

Truth: There are many different transfer options, and no two are ever alike!  The unique programs and student life vary from one university to the next.  Do research and talk to current students to get a feel for what it will be like to attend an institution.  Other factors like program availability, mode of instruction, cost, location, student clubs and activities, athletic opportunities, class size, and housing options should be considered.

Adapted with permission from The University of Texas at El Paso.