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Connie MyersGetting 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 fulfillment rate.

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 claims.


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