Transfer Credits: Work Hard Now, More Freedom Later

College is about learning. It’s about broadening your horizons, taking interesting classes and having new experiences.

College is also about earning a degree in a specific subject by taking the classes you want to take and learning as much as you can about your chosen field or fields.

Many colleges, in addition to having a set of required courses within each major, also require a set of liberal arts courses for all students. To get that degree in public relations, you’ll also have to take a couple science courses and a history course, among others.

And that’s not a bad thing; actually, it’s a pretty good thing because it gives students a well-balanced education. At some institutions, students can also parlay those courses (plus a few extras) into a minor or second major if they choose liberal arts requirements with the same overarching theme, which allows them an in-depth study another subject of interest – and looks good on a resume.

But for those students who have a very specific idea of what courses they want to take and who want to get the most out of their allotted credit hours, AP and transfer credits can be godsend.

Getting credit for such courses frees up credit hours and room in schedules for classes a student finds more interesting or relevant to their intended course of study. Or, for a student concerned with paying the cost of college and taking out loans, transferred credits can mean spending less by taking a required course elsewhere at a lesser cost or graduating early and not paying tuition for another semester or year.

Thanks to AP credits, I was able to graduate a year early. A friend was able to use her AP credits to free up space to allow her to earn a degree with three majors and four minors (that’s not even an exaggeration; it might actually be more than that, I sort of lost count). Another friend took summer classes at a community college to cover requirements so she could spend a semester in the Disney College Program and still graduate in four years.

Just as we take all different subjects in high school, we need to do the same thing in college. It makes us well-rounded individuals and gives us at least a little knowledge of most subjects. It makes sense. Sometimes I wonder if, had I needed to take more requirements, I would have found another area of study I really loved.

But sometimes students (myself included, at times) fail to see the point, or they get bored with all the requirements. Because they can’t get into upper-level courses in those liberal arts areas, they end up taking a bunch of introductory courses, which may not be as interesting. If students aren’t interested, they may not put in as much effort. Then they’re essentially just taking up a spot that someone else might want or need.

What do you think? Did you use transferred credits to get out of required courses? Did you discover a major your loved because of requirements?

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