Transferring college credits from an online college to a campus college is possible with careful planning, but it is not a simple matter. Getting an education is a worthy goal that offers students enlightening experiences, but it requires a significant amount of time and money. Students need to understand how changing enrollment from one school to another can affect an investment in higher education. Examining options prior to exercising them helps students avoid disappointment and unnecessary expense.

Understanding the Importance of Accreditation

As one of the most important factors in the selection of a college, accreditation provides the key to a student’s ability to transfer college credits between institutions. A designation by an accrediting board acts like a benchmark that indicates the kind of education that a school provides. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, developed by the U.S. Department of Education as a resource for students, is available as a public service at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.

Finding an appropriate match is a requirement in many aspects of life, from choosing a mate to selecting a plumbing part that fits. Colleges that have similar accreditations are likely to accept transfer credits, but investigation of university policies can reveal exceptions. Colleges that do not have accreditation can offer students almost no chance of successfully transferring credits. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides links to information about 3,000 schools that offer degrees and 60 accrediting boards.

Meeting Basic Requirements

Choosing to attend an online college is a convenience that enables many students to pursue higher education when going to a campus college is not possible or desirable. However, changing circumstances may cause a student to decide to go to a regular campus. Some requirements for students to evaluate when thinking about transferring include these:

• Online courses must closely resemble those offered at the campus college under consideration.
• Credits earned at an online school are potentially eligible for consideration if they are recent. Transfer students are not usually able to carry credits that are older than an acceptable number of years that is specified by university policy.
• Campus colleges usually accept less than half of the credits needed for graduation.
• Credits apply as replacements for elective classes or for general education courses, and they are often not usable for classes that are directly related to a major.
• A high grade point average in online courses is essential.
• Campus colleges reserve the right to determine if a student’s online education was academically appropriate.

Making a Decision Regarding Transferring Credits

By evaluating the variables that affect transferred credits, students can make a decision that is based on facts. Accreditation is probably the most determinative variable, and others have considerable impact as well. The value of making a long term plan for education is greatest when it anticipates change. Unforeseen circumstances can require a student to leave one school and enroll in another, and preparing for the consequences ahead of time helps to make a smooth transition.

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