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Transferencia a una nueva universidad: Engranajes del desplazamiento sin ímpetu perdidoso

One of the great strengths of American higher education is the ease with which students can transfer from one college or university to another. It is not unusual for a student from California, for example, to transfer to Michigan, or for someone attending a small private college to transfer to a large, comprehensive public university.

Some students transfer in order to take advantage of special programs not offered at their current school. For example, if a first year student majoring in teacher education later decides that she wants to be an engineer, she may have to transfer to a university that offers the engineering program she wants.  Some students move on because they like a different college or university better than the one they originally chose or because they have friends or family members attending another school.

Students who attend a community college to complete lower division general education requirements can transfer to a university where they can take upper division courses and thereby complete a bachelor’s degree.

Importance of Accreditation
Although the higher education system in the USA makes transferring easy and convenient, there are some points to keep in mind if you are considering a transfer.  Please note that the following comments pertain only to transfers from one regionally accredited institution to another within the United States. Transfer from or to institutions that are not regionally accredited is not recommended.  If a student attends an institution that lacks regional accreditation, there is a risk that the courses completed will not transfer to an accredited institution.  Always check the accreditation of the institution you plan to attend and also check to learn if the program of study or major that you have chosen is accredited by a regional or professional organization.

Different Academic Calendars
Assuming that the college or university you want to transfer into is accredited, you should then find out if it is on a semester system or quarter system. Semesters and quarters are basically different school calendar systems.  Generally speaking, institutions that use the semester system offer two semesters per calendar year. Each semester is usually 16 weeks in length or the equivalent in class hours.

Students who successfully complete a course offered in a semester earn semester credit hours. The majority of American colleges and universities use a semester-based system. Some institutions use a variation of this system known as a "trimester," in which a calendar year is divided into three semesters of more or less equal length.

However, the academic year at a fairly large number of higher education institutions is divided into four 12-week time periods known as “quarters.”  Credits earned in this system are called quarter credits.  Quarter credits can be converted to semester credit hours by applying the following formula:  Quarter credits x 2/3 = Semester credits.  For example, 4 quarter credits x 2/3 =2.66 semester credits.  It is easy to see from this example that transferring from one system to the other is not always to the advantage of the student.  However, there is not necessarily any difference in quality between the education received at a school having a quarter system compared to that received at one using the semester system.

Making Transfers Easy
Many colleges and universities have special arrangements known as “articulation agreements” with other institutions. These agreements allow students to transfer from one institution to the other as part of a program of study. Generally speaking, such agreements allow “seamless” transfer with little or no loss of credit and time.  For example, engineering students may study for three years at the undergraduate level at one college, then transfer to another college for two more years and receive both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at the end of the five year program of study. Sometimes such arrangements are known as a “3+2 programs” because they are designed to be completed in a total of five years.

Community colleges often have articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities. Many colleges and universities located near community colleges have detailed lists of how and what courses will transfer.

Tips for Transfers

  1. Remedial classes generally do not transfer. If you have to take remedial math or English classes, don’t expect to receive transferable credit for them. At the same time, don’t resist taking these classes just because they don’t transfer. They are designed to help students prepare for the classes that do transfer.

  2. There are usually a maximum number of credits you can transfer towards a degree at a college or university.  You should know the limit well before transferring.

  3. Some colleges and universities offer special freshman or college English classes for students whose native language is not English.  These special ESL classes may be accepted for transfer or they may not.  Find out before you transfer.

  4. Credits transfer; grades do not.  There is usually a requirement to have a certain minimum grade point average (GPA) in order to transfer; however, the GPA earned at one institution does not affect the GPA at another.

  5. Colleges and universities usually have general education requirements. A course that is required at one institution may not be required at another.  Such courses might transfer, but the credit earned is not necessarily going to apply to degree requirements.

  6. Finally and most important: always consult with an academic advisor and your foreign student advisor before undertaking a transfer.  In addition to the transfer of credits, you also have to transfer your immigration status as a student to the new school.

Don’t let some of the drawbacks of transferring deter you. If you plan ahead, a transfer can be an excellent way to accomplish your educational goals and enrich your experience with higher education in America. Just as shifting gears in a car is a way to gain more speed and power from the engine, transferring from one college or university to another can propel you to greater accomplishments.

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