In the often confusing process of transferring, one message is clear: start planning early.
Students at Central Oregon Community College looking to transfer to a four year university, have three major decisions to make, according to Vickery Viles, director of the careers, advising, and personal counseling center at COCC.
“The first thing is they need to come up with a strategy,” Viles said, “to meet general requirements in their first 45 to 90 credits.”
During this time, undecided students can figure out their majors and destination colleges, and the sooner the better.
“The longer you wait, two things will happen,” Viles said. “Either you will choose a major that is smaller and less sequential, or you will take an extra year or two.”
Once these decisions have been made there are other pitfalls that students must consider, including making sure they are taking the correct requirement courses, according to Viles.
“Students are thinking in terms of time,” Viles said. “Degrees don’t consist of time or number of credits, it’s about requirements.”
Course numbers taken at COCC may not be equivalent to the same number at a university which may cause confusion for students, Viles explained.
“Oregon is a very decentralized state,” Viles said. “Common course numbering [between institutions] is not an assumption you should make.”
To counter this, the COCC CAP center’s web page provides equivalency tables to match course numbers with different universities throughout the state.
Obtaining an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree allows students to transfer to any public Oregon university and start with junior standing, according to Viles.
Though decisions on majors and universities can be difficult, there are tools that can help. The CAP center hosts workshops throughout the year to help students decide on a major. And getting a first hand look at different universities is another way to make a choice, according to Viles.
“I’m a big fan of visiting the college,” Viles said, “maybe attend a class, arrange an overnight stay. A lot of advisors can schedule that.”
So once a university is chosen it is best to check their websites early and often because universities often have earlier deadlines than COCC for things such as financial aid.
“I would encourage a structured decision,” Viles said. “Give yourself a deadline.”