Preparing for College

Transfer from Community College

Question: I graduated in 2003 and did not apply to any colleges my senior year nor did I take my SATs. Am I still able to take SATs? How would I go about applying to four-year schools? I will be attending a community college in January and would like to know if its possible for me to get into a university by next fall or spring.

You are certainly able to take SATs and to attend a four-year school. Since you're already planning to start community college in January, you should forge ahead with that plan. Once you get there, contact the college transfer counselor (each community college has at least one) and discuss your goals with him or her. Some community college counselors are extremely helpful and others less so. Thus, once you've seen the counseling services that your new school offers, you'll have a better sense of how much assistance is likely to be available to you there.

Most community colleges have "articulation agreements" with several universities. According to the terms of these arrangements, students who take a prescribed group of community-college classes and who earn a certain GPA, are either automatically assured transfer admission to the participating four-year schools or, at least, will be given priority in the admission process.

You need to check with your college's transfer officer to see what articulation agreements will be available to you and, if you're interested, you'll need to find out what the requirements are. In order to take advantage of these, you generally have to spend two full years and earn an Associates degree at the community college before you transfer.

You can, however, transfer sooner, if you are itching to do so. The College Board Web site ( can tell you about SAT test dates and registration procedures. The 2004 dates include January 24, March 27, May 1, and June 5. There will be additional dates in the fall. In most cases, the longer you remain in community college (and earn good grades), the less important your test scores will become.

Even if your high school record wasn't stellar, you can transfer to a college or university that would not have admitted you when you were a senior, if you perform well in your community college. If you would like to "trade up" to a competitive school that way, you should consider spending two years at your community college and then transferring. That way, admission folks will see that you have proved yourself in a college environment. However, if you want to get to a four-year school before that, you will still have options. (When you say "next spring," we assume you mean 2005 and not 2004, right? It's really too late to shoot for spring of 2004, and even fall of 2004 is pushing it, though not impossible.)

The College Board Web site can also help you find colleges and universities that may be right for you. Click on "Advanced College Search" on the home page (it's in pretty small type. Look for the blue-shaded box near the top on the left) and then answer a series of questions about location, academic programs, etc. The "results" list will provide suggestions of places to start your research and will help you look beyond the institutions that have articulation agreements with your community college.

The most important thing to recognize is that, even if you weren't aiming for a four-year college when you were in high school, you will still have plenty of choices ahead of you.