How to Transfer From One Community College to Another

Written by: Matt Kuncaitis
Updated: 7/14/21

It’s not uncommon for students to transfer from one community college to another throughout the course of getting their degree. Perhaps a different campus offers more attractive degree plans, or the student plans on moving to another area or state. Whatever the reason, enrolling at a new school is not unheard of, and many campuses have an administrative office for transfer students to help them transition. 

In this article, we’ll go over some of the reasons students transfer between community colleges, how you can go about switching campuses and important things to keep in mind, such as transferring earned college credits. 

Reasons to Transfer Community Colleges

Students consider transferring to another community college for a variety of reasons. Whether wanting to improve their grade point average (GPA) or move closer to home, the decision to transfer is a personal choice. 

But not all transfers are simply about grades and location. Some students decide to transfer because they want to switch majors, and a different campus offers degree programs that are more in line with their interests or ideal line of work. In fact, some community colleges partner with a four-year public college to offer students a seamless transition from one to another. For example, Santa Monica College in California has partnered with the California State University and University of California to offer a variety of degree programs for community college transfer students to choose from. 

Typically, you earn your associate degree by meeting the community college’s general education requirements and transfer to the partnering university to finish out your bachelor’s degree. This is an articulation agreement and can help you transfer from community college to a state university with all your electives and general education courses. Articulation agreements minimize the risk of losing earned credits while in community college. 

Other students find their current school is not a good fit, either socially, academically or financially. Student life is complicated, and with 30% of college freshmen dropping out before entering their sophomore year, it’s clear there are several limiting factors affecting college students today, especially among two-year community college students. 

Some reasons students drop out include the amount of financial aid given versus family finances or debt, a lack of connection with a large number of students, an unexpected high level of academic rigor and meeting family needs, such as pregnancy or needing to care for a family member with a serious illness. Some situations make finding a school-life balance a challenge. Speaking with an academic adviser or counselor at the new school may help students find solutions they had not considered. 

Even those with a four-year college degree may enroll in a community college for specific work-related coursework, such as marketing, entrepreneurship or to learn a skilled trade. This seems a bit like reverse engineering, but according to the American Association of Community Colleges, 8% of all students currently enrolled in community college have already earned their bachelor’s degree. Many have enrolled to learn new skills or a trade. The Hechinger Report discusses this trend and how several people with bachelor’s degrees are enrolled in community college workforce programs, such as firefighter training, nursing, dental hygienist and IT. 

As mentioned, the decision to transfer is a personal choice, and there is a wide gamut for why people choose to transfer from one community college to another. There is no right or wrong reason when it comes to deciding what’s best for your situation. Whatever your personal circumstance or reason for making a change, understanding the transfer process can help simplify the transition to your new school. 

How to Transfer From One Community College to Another

Community colleges generally have open enrollment, meaning you can apply and sign up for classes at a different community college regardless of your GPA or college-level courses. All you need is your high school degree or equivalent and any required test scores, such as SAT or reading and math placement exams.

That being said, there is the question of whether you want to take a course at another community college that requires a prerequisite course to take it. In this instance, you need to send an official transcript to show earned course credits to your new college. When the admissions office receives your sealed official transcript, they apply the number of credits earned to your new official transcript. Unfortunately, there is the possibility that not all earned credits transfer. Sometimes, a course at one school has no equivalent at another. Some colleges may still give credit, but the decision is entirely up to the school. 

Applying to a new school probably resembles the application process of your previous community college. Visit the website of your new school and begin the admissions application. Review transfer requirements before sending to make sure the application is complete. This is primarily done online, and you need to create a new account if you haven’t done so already. 

Your new school will send you an email, typically within three to five business days, and provide you with your school email address, ID and password. Check your email regularly so that you can log into your school account to check for any admission holds or to-dos. Holds prevent you from registering for college courses, which may keep you from enrolling in that awesome elective humanities course you’ve been eyeing. 

Admissions holds generally mean the school needs information from you, such as proof of your meningitis vaccination or proof of residency. Many higher education campuses require some type of wellness or safety course prior to registering for courses, as well. This may appear as an admission hold. An academic hold can be something like meeting with your advisor to plan coursework and review the number of credits needed for your plan of study. Once you take care of these, you can register for college courses. 

Important Things to Keep In Mind When Transferring Community Colleges

Starting a new school is an exciting time! A new campus, new faces and new opportunities await. Now that you have enrolled at your new school, here are some tips to get you off to a brilliant start. 

Update your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application with your new college and check for qualifying scholarships and grants with your school’s financial aid office. Don’t wait for someone to contact you. The earlier you get started, the better! Be sure to log in to your student account to view your financial aid awards. 

You’ll also want to visit with your academic advisor or counselor to review your degree plan or area of focus. This can help you choose which courses to enroll in that can satisfy your school’s general education requirements and, if you plan to transfer to a four-year university or another four-year school, abides by the transfer agreement of a partnered university. 

Once you have enrolled in your courses for the semester, keep track of class start dates. Whether you prefer to write it down or add them to your electronic calendar, know the dates and times of your selected courses so that you don’t miss the first day. 

Lastly, purchase books and materials for your class early. A lot of professors provide this information before the first day of class, either through email or posting their syllabus online. Whether you need a scientific calculator or want to find the best price for textbooks, beat the crowds and come prepared for your first day of class. It’s a good idea to grab some pens, pencils and paper for notes, too. By being prepared, you’ll have one less thing to worry about once classes start.

Discover More Helpful Info About College on

To learn more ways you can make your transfer to a different community college easy, visit Whether you want to learn more about federal grants and loans or other ways to pay for your college education, such as work-study programs, can help you make informed decisions about paying for college.