One of the best things about community colleges is that they are low-cost gateways to great four-year colleges and universities.
You start by taking quality classes at a low price, and then apply to another school and transfer your credits to get the higher degree.
But transferring can be tricky. The admissions office at your next school will decide which course credits you took at community college are equivalent to credits they offer at their school. If the classes don’t match up, you may have to take (and pay for) more classes than you thought you did to finish your Bachelor’s degree.
Enter articulation agreements. (*trumpet fanfare*) These pre-arranged contracts between schools can help you make sure all your time and money you put into your degree so far goes with you.
The #FuturePanther Blog sat down with BMCC Academic Advisor Julie Waldner to figure out what it all means.
An articulation agreement is a map
“First things first,” Julie said. “‘Articulation agreement’ is just a really fancy term for a promise to transfer your credits. They are made between academic programs at two schools — linking one major to another. Like a contract, they guarantee that if you meet the conditions listed, every credit hour will be applied to your Bachelor’s degree when you transfer.”
The conditions are most often a menu of pre-approved courses. But there can also be requirements about minimum GPAs or grades in major-specific courses.
The ultimate planning tool
An articulation agreement is a great tool to help you maximize the money spent and time invested at your community college to make your degree as complete as possible when you transfer. It takes the guesswork out of figuring out which classes to take if you are aiming to transfer to a particular program at another school.
“One thing I often see students underestimate when they are planning their schedules is the amount of time and money they can spend on courses that are fun and interesting, but that they don’t strictly need for graduation,” Julie said.
“For example, you might want to take Italian because you’ve always wanted to be able to speak Italian. I won’t tell you that you can’t, but as your advisor I will point out how those credits will (or won’t) help you in the long run.”
At some schools, really specialized majors don’t have much room available for electives. In those cases, it’s really beneficial to have an articulation agreement that can outline what courses will transfer. And then maybe you will have space to take that Italian class after you transfer!
But articulation agreements do not guarantee admission
Julie wants to make sure you know: articulation agreements don’t guarantee admission to the school you want!
“You still have to apply and be accepted like every other transfer student,” she said. “But if you have followed the agreement, it should be smooth sailing after that. So, do remember to apply!”
What if the program you want to transfer to doesn't have an articulation agreement?
Articulation agreements are pre-researched paths to transferring, but they are definitely not the only path. When no agreement exists, it just means you have to do some research. This was Julie’s advice:
“Get online and look at the recommended coursework for the program you want to transfer in to. Sit down with your academic advisor and talk about your transfer goals. Share your research and work together to create a plan for success. We advisors can help you best when you have a goal in mind.”
With careful planning a lot of your credits will transfer. Without an articulation agreement, there’s just no guarantee that every credit will.
“Have I convinced you yet that articulation agreements are awesome!?” Julie laughs. “I hope so.”
Borough of Manhattan Community College has more than 120 articulation agreements active right now with public and private schools across New York City and beyond. Check out the list (helpfully sorted by major), and see where starting at BMCC could take you!
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