Working Strategies: College credit transfer more art than science

Last month, I sat in a training session to learn the ABCs of transferring credits from one college to another. “Man,” I remember thinking, “this is super complicated. What have I been telling people?” Well, beware if you are an adult returning to school after a long hiatus. I’m going to pass along what I learned:

Working Strategies by Amy Lindgren

Working Strategies by Amy Lindgren

1. Smile — you’re on Candid Camera. Some people prefer not to claim all their old courses, as the lousy grades of their youth will sully their new GPA. Sadly, any school you enroll in now is likely to check the national clearinghouse to find all your past schools. You’ll start out with the bad grades attached to any classes that get transferred.

2. Life experience can be turned into college credit. A number of institutions allow adult learners to morph their non-college experiences into credit. In most cases these credits will cost you in terms of essays, presentations and tuition.

3. In many schools, your general requirements (English composition, for example), will transfer for a lifetime, while credits in more time-sensitive subjects, such as macro-economics, may expire after 10 years or so.

4. Testing out of credits can you save money and time. There are formal processes for this, via CLEP exams (

5. You can get a head start on checking transfer values at a Web site such as, which tracks course equivalencies for hundreds of institutions nationally.

6. Talk with an admissions person at the schools that interest you. Good luck!

Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at or at 626 Armstrong Avenue, St. Paul, Minn. 55102

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