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Survey: Student Opinions on Transfer Credit

July 29, 2020

A new survey examined students' perceptions about their experiences with credit transfer.

The American Council on Education and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers surveyed roughly 1,000 students about their opinions on transfer credit loss, available information on transfer, barriers to transferring credit and their thoughts on credits that didn't transfer.

More than 80 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that their current college provided clear information or resources about transferring credits.

Nearly all students surveyed sent their academic transcripts to their transfer institution. For about three-quarters of those students, the credit evaluation process occurred automatically. Those transferring to a private institution were more likely to have to request an evaluation.

More than half of students reported that all of their credits transferred. Only 3 percent said none of their credits transferred. Again, those transferring to private institutions were more likely to report that only some or none of their credits transferred.

Of those who reported only some or none of their credits transferred, 43 percent said they didn't know why some credits did not transfer. The report calls this an "institutional gap in practice," as colleges should provide students with reasons for why they didn't accept their credits.

About 60 percent of those who couldn't transfer all of their credits said they were not displeased. Twelve percent of respondents were extremely displeased with the results.

The survey also asked those students about what colleges could do to help their transfer experience. Students listed better academic advising as a top need, as well as better course scheduling and better advising in high school for dual-enrollment or AP classes.

Students who were able to transfer all of their credits listed academic advising, their current college's website and faculty members as some of the most helpful resources in their process.

Generally, transfer credits are more likely to be applied toward general education requirements. Nearly three-quarters of students reported their credits went toward those courses, and more than half reported their credits were applied to elective credits. Forty-one percent said their credits were applied toward major requirements.

The survey also asked about excess credits. About three-quarters of students who knew the answer said they earned more credits than they needed. Those who couldn't transfer credits were almost twice as likely to report that they had earned excess credits at their current institution than those who were able to transfer at least some credits. Forty-five percent of students who were able to transfer all of their credits said they had excess credits from both their current and former institutions upon graduation.

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Madeline St. Amour

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