In recent years, alternative post-secondary paths have gained increasing amounts of popularity. While more viable options are generally better for a wide populus, it’s hard to deny that college remains a valuable experience. Simply taking all 4 years at a university and attaining a degree poses various different problems for various different people. However, a newer ideology called “transferring” has gained traction recently. Essentially, the premise of a ‘transfer pathway’ is to take entry-level credits at a community college, then transfer to a public or private university. But how is transferring advantageous over simply taking all 4 years at a public or private university?

Generally, the expenses related to attaining a college degree are what drive people to different avenues. When you begin your college career at a community college, you are able to earn entry-level credits are a lower cost-basis. Per annum, you can save around $7,000 to $12,000 when transferring from a Kentucky community or technical college to a public or private university. Since the credits usually transfer, you can see over $14,000 in savings by transferring from a community college with no detriments.

Alternatively, the course load is often much more suitable for incoming students and ensures a smoother transition to college courses. The community college and technical school environment focuses more heavily on introducing students compared to their public and private university counterparts. Additionally, many students who transfer from Kentucky community college or technical schools see many lasting advantages as they enter the workforce. Generally, students who transfer and achieve their bachelor’s degree see $26,000 higher earnings after 10 years of working compared to only associate graduates. Despite the positives outlined, there are certainly negatives that accompany venturing down a transfer pathway.

Statistically, only 23% of Kentucky students who intended to transfer actually follow through. Furthermore, only 54.8% of those 23%, or 12.6% of all transfer pathway students, achieve a bachelor’s degree within 4 years of transferring. At this current pace, this equates to only 3,800 students actually acquiring the degree which 30,000 students were set on the path to achieve. One primary factor could be the misconceptions around how transferring works. Taking 2 years at a community college and 2 years at another university is the common perception. However, only 8% of students complete it in this manner. This number jumps by 33% when you analyze bachelor’s achievement 3 years after transferring instead of 2. When we remove the time constraint, this number peaks at 70% bachelor’s achievement for transferring students. So, what exactly are some of the hurdles transfer students may face?

The main concerns involve major selection, absence of advice, and credit transferability. The selection of majors is very important for any student’s college career. This utmost importance can induce ‘paralysis by analysis’ and around a third of the time results in a change of major. Secondly, a majority of students do not confer with their transfer advisers, harming their assessment of their degree achievement. Furthermore, since they do not meet with advisors enough, they may make ill-advised decisions which negatively impact their future.

But the state of Kentucky has remained vigilant for solutions and plans to address the aforementioned concerns. To help reduce switching majors, Kentucky institutions are working to better define the requirements and path from community college to bachelor’s degree. To enact this, Kentucky is establishing a transfer website that can help clarify the details for transfer students. In order to incentivize transfer advising, Kentucky institutions will now require periodic checkups. With these checkups, not only will decisions be made more wisely and there will be a clearer focus for degree attainment. Although credit transferability is currently high with around 70% of credits being transferable, Kentucky plans to increase that number even higher. With Kentucky’s General Education Transfer Policy, all general education credits would be accepted and honored for any public university.

Ultimately, if you chose college as your path, transferring is one of the best ways to mitigate the traditional downside of college. With the smoother transition and cheaper courses, the benefits greatly outweigh the detriments. For Kentucky, the increased focus of minimizing obstacles means transfer students will find even more success and reap the benefits even further. Combine this with institutional effort to better inform students and the transfer pathway has never been better.