Getting Full Credit
Returning students are their own best
advocates when applying old college credits to new requirements
by Connie Myers
As you prepare to return to college, you may wonder
about those old classes that appear on your transcript.
Courses and requirements change, even if you are attending
the same university as you did years ago. And what if
you want to attend a different school? Students and
advisement counselors alike are often puzzled by how
to apply these old credits.
I wondered about my old classes, too. But I learned
that with a little homework, those old classes went
a long way toward fulfilling my degree requirements.
When I returned to college after a ten year absence,
I started slowly. I began with just one night class
each semester at the local university extension office.
I took just three or four classes a year, slowly improving
both my grade point average and my general education
After three years, I'd completed all the university's
general education requirements at the extension and
raised my GPA to a respectable level. I'd done all I
could at the university extension; it was time to enroll
at the university.
And then we moved.
Our new home was very close to another university.
I enrolled and set up an appointment with my new advisement
counselor. She examined my transcript, which detailed
classes dating back to 1977. She was not very encouraging.
In fact, she told me that all those completed general
education courses would apply as elective credit only.
I still had 27 hours of general education requirements
to fulfill at my new university.
I left her office in shock. Twenty-seven credit hours
was a full year of full-time classes. The time, effort,
and expense involved was disheartening.
I knew there had to be a better way.
I sat down with my new university's manual and read
it cover to cover. I found that courses could be challenged
under the right circumstances. I figured out how to
apply those circumstances to me, and had 25 of those
27 credit hours waived. I trimmed a year off my degree
requirements and enrolled directly in classes required
for my major.
If you are willing to do a little extra homework,
you can achieve similar results. No one is as interested
in your college career as you are; don't trust your
counselor to do your work for you.
Following are some guidelines for achieving the best
possible results for transfer credits.
The admissions office isn't always right.
Universities have agreements about which classes they
will accept from each other. When you enroll, the university
admissions office evaluates your transcript using current
university agreements. But these agreements change from
year to year as course numbers change. Current agreements
may have no relevance to the classes you took ten or
twenty years ago; your course numbers will likely not
even appear in the current evaluation agreement. If
you think the admission office hasn't given you all
the credit you deserve, you can petition your case -
but you will need to provide evidence to back up your