Jay Grady By Jay Grady • March 8, 2024

Credit Transfer Secrets: 5 Insider Insights for Nontraditional Students

I started school myself in the ‘90s but never finished, so I decided to finish my degree two decades later. I know firsthand what it takes to continue your journey to academic success. Now, as an undergrad recruiting manager here at TESU, I share a series of helpful tips for any student interested in transferring their credits to another institution. Here are my top five tips to make your transfer experience successful.

Tip 1: Understand what kind of transfer student you are and how that influences your academic journey.

In short, a transfer student is someone who started their academic career and earned credits at one university, then decided to transfer and continue their education at a different school. A transfer student is often a nontraditional student – and we celebrate that! There are a few common types of transfer students, but everyone’s academic journey will look different.

Some students may choose to transfer during their third or fourth year due to a variety of circumstances. Others may have graduated with an associate degree from a community college and now wish to seek a four-year degree.

Tip 2: Know what works for you.

Knowing what works for you campus-wise is an important part of choosing where to transfer. Are you looking for a large campus with lots of student activities? Do you want a lot of clubs, sports and weekend activities? Or do you want a more intimate setting?

Or are you like me, and just looking to earn your degree in the most economical and time-efficient way possible? Campus life might not matter to you, especially if you are working, have a family and need flexibility.

Online learning may work for you, and the living room may be your ideal campus!

Knowing what works for you when seeking your next academic setting will better set you up for success.

Tip 3: Start early!

While it’s never too late to continue or adjust your education, it’s also never too early. By being prepared early, you can start your new semester smoothly and stress-free.

First, pay attention to application deadlines. You don’t want to miss a semester because you didn’t get your application in on time.

Second, attend open houses. This is a great way to learn if an institution is the right fit for you. You can also speak with representatives of the university in-person.

Lastly, submit your application and transcripts. Even if you went to 10 different colleges, submit them all! You never know what you’ll get transfer credit for that will, in turn, accelerate your completion to a degree.

Tip 4: Communication is key.

Communication is key, and communication is free!

If you are in community college, communicate with your college’s transfer advisors. It’s what they are there for: to help you transfer into a school that is a good fit for you. They can help you figure out which credits may transfer into certain schools. Some community colleges have relationships with four-year schools, and these advisors can reach out on your behalf.

If you are no longer in school, reach out to possible future schools and speak to someone on their admissions team. They can help you figure out your transcripts and which credits will transfer.

A lot of schools (like TESU) have a variety of ways you can earn credits outside of just your transcripts! For example, if you have a ton of work experience, you might be able to earn credits from exams, portfolio assessments and even licenses and certifications you obtained. All of these could count toward transfer credit, which will help you earn your degree faster.

Talk to folks in the know to help you get started.

Tip 5: Explore your financing options.

Financing is something most students worry about. Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application and see what you qualify for.

Take the time to learn about the grant and scholarship opportunities you may be eligible for. You could learn about opportunities you didn’t even know about!

For example, the Garden State Guarantee states that if you are a junior or senior with 60 credits and going to school full time, you could have your full tuition covered!

There are also opportunities for adult students who are not full-time, such as GO-TESU. GO stands for Grant Opportunity, and you could be eligible if you are enrolled less than full time in any TESU term seeking your first associate or bachelor’s degree, have been a N.J. state resident for at least 12 consecutive months and have filed your FAFSA.

If you are a community college student, there are Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) scholarships. PTK has more than $246 million available in scholarships for members. They offer two types of scholarships to help students complete an associate degree and prepare for a four-year college. The application includes a quiz to help determine eligibility.

Also, check if you qualify for discounted options! Employees of companies such as UPS and JetBlue qualify for tuition assistance. If you aren’t sure, reach out to your company HR and see if there are any tuition assistance or reimbursement programs available to you.

You can also use Tip 4 and communicate with your prospective institution to see if there are any additional ways you can fund your education.

If you are ready to reach your academic goals, let’s get started using the tips above! You can schedule a time to chat with me about your educational goals and how you can get started here. Good luck!

Jay Grady

Written by Jay Grady

Jay Grady holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Strayer University which he earned after transferring from Cumberland County College, now Rowan College of South Jersey. As the undergraduate recruitment manager at TESU, he travels throughout the state of New Jersey visiting its 19 community colleges and talking with students about their educational goals. His interests include listening to self-help audio books and 90’s hip hop while traveling to his community college visits.

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