Community college credits don’t always transfer, but SCC says having a plan will help

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – With graduation season coming up this May, many students may be wondering what’s next.

And anyone thinking about community college might be weighing whether it’s worth their time.

Community colleges are a popular alternative to a four-year school, partially because they’re advertised as a cheaper path to a bachelor’s degree among rising tuition costs.

Emma Lindsey, a student at Southeast Community College, graduated this week and said community college was really beneficial for her.

“Financially, it makes more sense,” she said. “I pay a lot less to come to community college. In fact, these last two semesters I’ve come here practically for free because I’m on the student senate.”

But some students come out of community college frustrated because their credits won’t transfer to a four-year school.

The Associated Press reported that only 1 of 7 students who started at a community college in 2016 earned a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Lindsey said right now, she’s struggling to move forward with a program she wants at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln because some of her more specific credits won’t transfer to a new school.

“I knew I wanted to transfer, but I didn’t know where,” she said. “It’s upsetting when four-year schools make it really difficult for community college students to transfer, especially nontraditional students because you kind of already have a rock up against you.”

Joel Michaelis, vice president of instruction at SCC, said the problem is with larger schools that won’t accept certain credits.

“We design our classes very specifically, especially our gen ed classes, we set those up to transfer to as many colleges as we possibly can,” he said. “The issue really when it comes down to transfer is the receiving institution.”

So sometimes students spend time taking classes that ultimately won’t count toward their degree if they transfer.

Michaelis said it all depends on what you want to study and which school you choose.

“Really the thing we encourage the most is that students come in with a plan,” he said. “If they know they’re going to transfer, have an idea exactly where they want to go. And then you look at exactly what you want to study, and then our advisers can look at that and do our best to advise you.”

At UNL, the science, technology, engineering and math programs are working to make transfers smoother.

They said they’re trying to make sure that courses at both schools cover the same material and that students’ credits will actually transfer.

The university has a webpage where students can figure out if their credits will be accepted.

Both UNL and SCC say it’s always best to speak with an adviser about what your plans are ahead of time.

“I came into school having kind of having an idea of what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t 100% sure,” Lindsey said. “Until you’re with an adviser on another campus, you’re kind of in the dark.”

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