Posted in HS4CC

Using Transfer Websites in your HS4CC Program

Transfer tools and websites like Transferology are great when you know how to use them! In this post, I’ll explain how to get the most out of these resources for your HS4CC program.

Transfer websites, allow you to plug in the name of a college course that you take at one college, and view how it will transfer to a different college. This can be a valuable tool in your Homeschooling for College Credit planning process, especially when you’re using dual enrollment classes from a college that you won’t use to finish a degree. Understanding how the tools work, and what they lack, will help you use them to the fullest and be an excellent guidance counselor for your teen!

“Transfer” in college lingo means taking a course at one college and then sending it to a second college or credit. When done well, the course will successfully work at the new school. Transfer credit is a key principle in a HS4CC program because credit earned in high school is sometimes free or reduced, allowing your student to stockpile a lot of college credit in advance! When resourcefully planned, your teen should be able to transfer 100% of their college credit earned in high school into their target college program.

Course at ABC CollegeCourse at XYZ University
ENG101 English Composition 1 –>ENG111 Freshman Composition 1
HIS101 United States History 1 —>HIS111 American History 1
CLEP History of the United States 2 —>does not transfer
MAT101 College Mathematics —>MATH090 Remedial Math
COL101 Student Success —>does not transfer
AGR121 Agriculture of Tomorrow —>no entry
AGR129 Computer Tech for Ag —>no entry

A transfer table, transfer equivalency, transfer database, or look-up tool all serve the same purpose: to see how your credits taken at one college will come in at the new college. In the table above, you can see how the student’s courses taken at ABC College are recorded at their new school, XYZ University.

A Transfer Tool is a Teaching Tool

A transfer tool, especially Transferology, is a genius idea. It allows for the transactions that have already happened to be documented and stored for future reference. No one is building this database in advance, rather it’s being built as evaluations take place. This historical document allows parents and teens to look up classes and make predictions about who future courses may transfer.

Using the table above can teach us a lot of valuable information, and in turn, we can learn from that and use that for our own planning.

  1. We know that XYZ University accepts credit from ABC College. This is important! This means the road is open and we can expect credit transfer.
  2. We know that XYZ University accepts general education credit from ABC College. Notice how English and history (general education) transfer well? They are nearly identical matches. This would lead us to predict that English 2 and American History 2 will both easily transfer too.
  3. College Math, or other maths under College Algebra probably won’t transfer. This is noteworthy and requires extra planning to use a lower math at this college.
  4. This college doesn’t accept the history CLEP, which means they may not accept other CLEPs. This is noteworthy and requires extra investigation.
  5. College Success is not going to transfer, leading me to intentionally limit the other “COL” prefix classes my teen will take at ABC College.
  6. Agriculture courses haven’t been evaluated. That is not a denial, but it is not acceptance. Ag courses aren’t gen ed, so these may not transfer well. This is noteworthy and requires extra planning.

Limits of the Tool

Transfer tools, whether you’re using Transferology or an institution’s own database, are limited by what has happened, they can’t predict what will happen. We can predict behaviors, and use the patterns to guide our future planning.

  1. A college’s official evaluation of your teen’s transcript ALWAYS outranks any online tool.
  2. Colleges can, and do, review transfer policies and protocol every year. A CLEP that wasn’t accepted last year may be accepted in a future year. These changes may not be reflected in the transfer tool.
  3. A college’s website, when current and available, is a solid place to find transfer information.
  4. Popular transfer pathways are likely to appear in transfer tools while new or unique pathways won’t. In other words, it’s unlikely that your local community college’s culinary arts class will appear on a transfer tool website for the University of Alaska. What is very likely is that your local community college’s English 101 class will appear on the transfer tool website for your state’s public university. That transfer may happen 200 times per year.

Will it Transfer? That’s the Wrong Question

Learning the transfer or credit acceptance policy of one college is like learning only one recipe! It’s a much better use of your time to learn college transfer principles that are typical for the majority of colleges. Doing this allows you to understand what happens at thousands of colleges and plan accordingly.

Colleges differ widely in their acceptance of credit, but they’re predictable and boring with how they disqualify credit from being transferred.

The right question to ask is

“Will this class be disqualified from transferring?”

By knowing and then avoiding classes that are commonly disqualified, you improve the likelihood of successful transfer a zillion-fold. (Maybe not a zillion-fold, but a lot!) I’m not going to tell you which courses are disqualifiable, I’m going to teach you how to assess this yourself and your family!

Use these 6 tests to see if the course is a good risk or a poor risk. If you can answer “yes” to each, you’re probably going to have a successful transfer. If you hit a “no” anywhere on this list…disqualification is likely.

1. Is the class offered through a university or college?

If yes, proceed to #2.

WHY? Many businesses offer classes “for college credit,” through partnerships with specific colleges and the American Council of Education (ACE). Examples of these businesses include Straighterline, ALEKS, Sophia, Studycom, etc . Unless you’re planning to attend a partner college, your classes will rarely transfer! If you do plan to use a partner college, there will be a transfer guide -simply look up the course you’re considering to know how it will come in at your partner college. We keep a list of ACE partnership colleges here.

2. Is the university or college regionally accredited?

If yes, proceed to #3.

WHY? Colleges that are NOT regionally accredited (RA) almost never transfer into colleges that ARE regionally accredited. While the new accreditation categories have done away with the term “regional” the accreditors that you want to look for are still the same. Public community colleges and universities ARE always regionally accredited, so the likelihood that they’d accept an NON-RA credit in transfer is tiny. Non RA colleges can be legitimate schools with different accreditation, but strictly in the question of future transfer, only choose RA courses in high school. Check accreditation for any college here:  U.S. Department of Accreditation Database 

3. Can regular college students pay for this course using financial aid?

If yes, proceed to #4.

WHY? Though you can’t use financial aid in high school, courses that don’t qualify for financial aid are probably either professional development, continuing education, or offered through a college within a university that may not transfer well (Extension colleges sometimes fall into this category).   Dig deeper – this could get muddy and complicated. This is certainly a red flag. If you have other options, my advice is to avoid this class.

4. Locate the name of the department offering the course. Is this course part of a degree program that leads to an award with the letters AA, BA, AS, or BS?

If yes, proceed to #5.

WHY? Those degrees/awards contain courses intended to transfer, specifically general education courses.  If this course is part of a program or credential with a different name like Certificate, Diploma, Associate of Applied Science, Associate Occupational Science, or any degree with the word “Technology” in the title, the transfer is unlikely. The course you’re considering is possibly for career training at that institution and not for future transfer elsewhere.

5. Is the course’s alpha-numeric 100 or higher?

For instance, the number in ENG101 is 101.  ENG101 has an alpha-numeric higher than 100.

If yes, proceed to #6.

WHY? The majority of colleges use 100-400 numbers to indicate level. Courses under 100 level (085, 060, etc.) are possibly “developmental” and not eligible for college credit. A handful of colleges have their own numbering system that looks nothing like this one, so if you’re in the least bit uncertain, call and ask if the course counts towards a degree and then follow up by getting it in writing. 

6. Does this course appear in the college’s list of approved general education courses?

General education courses are the courses “all students” take prior to taking courses in their major. It’s intentionally “general” in that it provides the student with a wide range of knowledge. General education courses are the most likely to transfer, so choosing courses from these subjects gives you a better chance than choosing subjects outside this list. If you do have a target college in mind, you can check their general education list and compare the course your planning against their list.

Typically General Education Subjects

English, Literature, Communication, Math, Natural Science, Physical Science, Foreign Language, Humanities, Art, Music, History, Behavioral Science, Ethics, Cultural Diversity.

Typically NOT General Education Subjects

Accounting, Allied Health, Aviation, Business, Computer Science, Culinary, Education, Engineering Technology, Finance, Fire Science, Library Science, Management, Marketing, Nursing, PE or Fitness, Real Estate, subjects with “Technology” in the title, or anything leading to a career certificate.

If you made it this far, you’re as close to a sure thing as you can get! You’ve through key transfer credit disqualifiers. What now?  Proceed!   You’re as solid as you can be at this point.  

Nuances to be aware of:

  • Occasionally, some colleges (NOT the majority) will put “expiration dates” on hard sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) and technology (computer science, etc.). If you’re still a few years away from enrollment and you expect at least one of your teen’s target colleges has this policy, your best bet is to choose non-science and technology courses now (English, social science, humanities, math) and wait for the 11th grade or later before taking hard sciences or computer courses.
  • Public colleges and university employees will disqualify credit based on a specific written (and approved) policy. Sometimes this is done at the state level, district level, or even campus level. But these colleges are the most predictable since they almost never make decisions on a whim.
  • Private 2 and 4-year colleges, schools, or universities will always be the least predictable. Private colleges, schools, and universities also have complete autonomy when it comes to setting their own policy, and you’ll sometimes encounter people who can make decisions based on their own assessment or opinion.
  • For any potential college, see of they have “articulation agreements” in place with other colleges. An articulation agreement is a written transfer agreement that guarantees your credits, courses, or degree will transfer. Using an articulation agreement is a great strategy to save money and avoid hitting the unfortunate snags that come from failed credit laundering.
  • If your student is taking college classes in high school from the college where they plan to earn a degree, then you’re in the best possible situation because you can get course planning advice directly from the college!


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit