Be careful when choosing courses to transfer

Figuring out what classes I need to take that will transfer to a university is like a game of hide-and-seek, depending on what university I decide to transfer to.

Luckily, I can use the Michigan Transfer Agreement to transfer my basic credits to any university in Michigan.

Students who plan to transfer to colleges and universities in Michigan can use the Michigan Transfer Agreement, or MTA, as a guideline for what classes to take to transfer to any colleges or universities who have signed onto the agreement.

The MTA provides guidelines for students to take certain prerequisite courses from different areas of study such as English, math, science, social science, and humanities. If the courses taken don’t add up to 30 credits, then an additional course must be taken from one of the groups.

A number of colleges and universities abide by the agreement, such as the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Sienna Heights University, Grand Valley State University and many more listed on the MTA website.

The only catch with the MTA is that the guidelines may vary depending on which institution you choose. For example the basic guidelines for what classes you can transfer from MCCC to Grand Valley State University are different from the classes you can transfer to the University of Michigan.

I found this out the hard way, even with counseling here at MCCC.

I was already set on transferring to the University of Michigan last year when I met with a counselor to talk about what credits I needed to transfer.

I was given a slip with a list of classes I could take that will fulfill the MTA, and I scheduled my classes according to that. This seemed like an easy guideline to follow, but I wasn’t informed that if the college I want to transfer to doesn’t offer that class, then it doesn’t transfer.

For example my Math 157 credit, or College Algebra from MCCC, is not listed on the University of Michigan website as transferrable via MTA. The lowest math credit listed is Calculus I, because the lowest math course offered at University of Michigan is Calculus I. Had I known this, I would have taken another math course this semester.

MCCC’s vice president of Student and Information Services, Randy Daniels, advises students to get in contact with the college or university they wish to transfer to.

“What we advise students is that if at some point you do decide, it’s really important to have a conversation with someone at that college,” Daniels said. “The best thing to do is make a connection at the institution you want to transfer to.”

Daniels also noted that transferring credits can be a negotiating matter. You can request that a course you have taken at MCCC be evaluated if it is listed as non-transferrable. Many college websites have course evaluation request forms specifically for this issue.

MCCC advises students to take general education requirements that will be guaranteed to transfer. If the student does not have an institution in mind, then the MTA can help them transfer within Michigan.

A good idea, however, would be to have a list of colleges that you would be interested in transferring to, so when you choose your classes you can pick a general education credit that transfers to all of the institutions on your list.

“What we try to do is help them with general information for new students and try to stick to things that are generic in terms of transferring,” Daniels said.

“If you don’t have an institution in mind, the MTA is a great guideline to follow.” 

Daniels said another issue with transferring community college credits is that students sometimes cannot make up their minds.

“One of the things that complicates this is indecisiveness — not knowing where you want to go or study, so we really try to stick to the Gen. Ed. stuff,” Daniels said.

An issue with taking only general education requirements, however, can be that students may not get experience in other courses to help them decide what to major in.

Another issue is students who never declare their major or change their major without notifying the college, Daniels said.

“Some students change their major but don’t tell, and when I say don’t tell, I mean they don’t tell us or let us know to put it in the system,” Daniels said.

“We’re assigning students to academic advisors based on their major.”

If a student declares or changes their major, it would be in their best interest to notify the college so they can be assigned an academic advisor in the area of study. This will allow them to be advised correctly about what courses to take for their degree.

The best advice I can give students here at MCCC in regards to transferring their credits is to do their research on the MTA. It would also be a good idea to make a list of universities that you want to transfer to and then contact those universities and review their transfer agreements to help you choose classes to take here at MCCC.