Higher Ed, Pathways

Overcoming Challenges in College Credit Transfer: How Institutions Can Empower Students

Parchment Staff  •  Jul 11, 2023  •  Blog

The traditional college credit transfer process can be a daunting experience for students, typically involving long wait times and a lot of confusing paperwork. As a result, organizations and professionals across the higher education landscape are pivoting to comprehensive digital solutions that can help them better support learners in this process.

Read on to learn more about the challenges students face when transferring college credit, and the resources available to education providers to streamline the experience for all key stakeholders.

Taking a Closer Look at How Transfer Credits Work

College credit transfers — the process of transferring academic credits earned at one institution to another — generally involves learners submitting transcripts to a receiving institution for evaluation. If you’re the receiving institution, you have the authority to determine which credits will be accepted. But, your transfer credit requirements and eligibility likely don’t apply to every college or university, which can put a strain on your valued learners throughout the process.

Common Challenges in the College Credit Transfer Process

After high school, prospective students can head to an accredited institution or state university, or they might opt for a community college to earn a degree faster and at a lower cost. However, when it comes time for these learners to make the next move in their lifelong learning journey, a complex transfer credit process can be a major obstacle. Transfer students continue to face:

  • Lengthy wait times for transcript and transfer credit evaluation.
  • Difficulty in determining if, and how, courses will transfer — before they take them.
  • Confusion over transfer agreements, requirements and eligibility.
  • The potential loss of credits as a result of institutional policies or differences in course content.

Simply put, not all students transferring credit to another institution are successful. In fact, the United States Government Accountability Office reports that the average transfer student loses 43% of their transfer credits when moving to a different college or university — equating to roughly 13 credits or a semester’s worth. And, when a student’s hard-earned credits don’t transfer, they’re obligated to repeat a course they’ve already successfully completed: not to mention the unnecessary financial burden of re-acquiring the college credit. This can quickly be disheartening, leaving students vulnerable to dropping out altogether.

How Institutions Are Improving the Process

Because challenges when transferring credit can create barriers for students seeking to continue their educational journey at a different community college or university, institutions need resources and tools that can create a more seamless process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top strategies organizations are introducing to mitigate credit transfer difficulties.

Turning to Digital Credential Services

Many educational institutions are leveraging digital credentials as a more secure and verifiable way for learners to showcase their prior learning and academic achievements. How does this support students trying to transfer credits? These credentialing solutions allow individuals to quickly and easily share their official credits and certifications with other institutions, providing a more efficient and streamlined alternative to traditional credit transfers.

And, while these solutions can help students gain more control over their milestones and credential profile, higher education institutions will play a crucial role in facilitating the use of digital credentials for credit transfer moving forward.

Considering the Value of Transfer Articulation

Organizations are also leveraging technology to help facilitate a simpler transfer process for students. Solutions that provide institutions with the ability to create online databases of course equivalencies allow students to search and find transferable courses before they decide to enroll — preventing potentially devastating credit loss in the long run. With an online transfer articulation solution in place, educational institutions can:

  • More efficiently manage and update equivalency information.
  • Increase transparency for students.
  • Promote a smoother transfer experience.

Get the Support Your Institution Needs From Parchment 

Streamlining transfer articulation management and the credit transfer process will be key to mitigating delays in degree completion and even ensuring learners aren’t discouraged from pursuing higher education entirely.

With digital credentialing systems in place, learners can transfer with confidence, simply sharing their digital credentials with the receiving institution, instead of relying on traditional transcripts which can take weeks or even months to process. What’s more, providing access to up-to-date course equivalency information — ensuring that completed courses will not only transfer but also count toward their degree —  can further facilitate a fast and easy process.

When your institution is ready to manage course equivalencies more efficiently and effectively and support learners transferring credits with credentialing solutions, Parchment can help. Parchment delivers the most comprehensive academic credential management platform and global network, providing learners, academic institutions and employers with the ability to innovate, request, verify and share transcripts, diplomas and other credentials in simple and secure ways.

Want to learn more? Start a conversation with us to see what solutions from Parchment can do for your institution.

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