On the surface, transferring schools is a beneficial option for many college students. They are provided with the chance to become acquainted with the campus culture and pursue their career passions. However, colleges need to provide a smooth and simple transferring process for ecstatic students.
When transferring to different higher education institutions, college students tend to hit educational barriers that limit their ability to be successful while attending their new school.
Even while enduring the COVID-19 pandemic, transfer students’ struggles have reached unprecedented heights. Although transferring is a stressful process, requiring more educational guidance and support for overwhelmed students would ease their headache.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, transfer students lose an average of 13 credits when transferring.
Cal State Fullerton uses systems like Assist, which help determine credit transferability. Problems occur when there's no established articulation or formal agreement which allows the institution to transfer credits efficiently. This leaves students financially stressed and discouraged in continuing higher education.
This barrier pushes students to either apply to another college where their credits will successfully transfer over, or re-take several classes to make up for the credits that didn’t transfer. Constantly being directed back and forth by college advisors’ guidance solely complicates the transfer process as students have to once again invest more time, money and energy into another institution.
In a April 2020 press release by the American Council on Education, the council attempted to encourage institutions to be more flexible toward transfer students who may have been impacted by COVID-19.
“Institutional policies should aim for complete transparency. The circumstances under which credits and or grades are accepted and not accepted should be clear and publicly stated in accessible, specific, and easy to understand terms. The rationale for these policies should be made equally clear and transparent,” according to the council’s press release.
When transferring to a CSU, there are a variety of requirements that a student must meet in order to apply and be considered. Students must earn 60 semester or 90 quarter transferable units. They must complete 10 general education courses and the “Golden Four” courses that include oral communication, written communication, critical thinking and mathematics/quantitative reasoning with a C- or better. Students also need a competitive grade point average and must be in good standing with their last college or university.
After all of that, students are confronted with “meeting the minimum California State University (CSU) requirements does not guarantee admission to CSUF,” as stated in the CSUF Office of Admissions website. It appears as though after one obstacle is hurdled over, multiple roadblocks emerge.
According to an interview with Inside Higher Ed, John Fink, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College said, “Really the whole transfer system, even before the pandemic, was underperforming and inequitable.”
Students already work hard when it comes to reaching the eligibility requirements to transfer. Transferring is a hectic process, and the lack of support and transparency from institutions doesn’t benefit the student. Higher education is supposed to propel students forward, driving them to their future.
Institutions should consider reaching out to prospective students in their early academic careers to establish familiarity and rapport. When transfer students discover that their efforts don’t guarantee a spot or even credit at a future school, it completely disheartens students from advancing their educational journey.
Institutions should be making it more attainable for students to reach their educational goals. While transfers tend to be overlooked because they have experience in higher education, it doesn’t dismiss the fact that transfers need the most support and guidance as they navigate unfamiliar college campuses.