Come Up Short? Explore the Reverse Transfer
Normally in this space I write to an audience of would-be college students, high school upper classmen and others who seek to embark on the college path for the first time. Yet increasingly I run into, hear from, and read about the dropouts- former students who didn’t quite attain a degree for one reason or another.
Unfortunately, dropping out has become the norm, not the exception. For many the short-lived college experience can seem like such a waste; it’s back to square one with little to show except the ability to check the “some college” box on job applications and a trail of student debt. As we’ve seen previously those who have college credits but no degree have some earnings advantages over those who obtained no education beyond high school but have been largely in the same boat in terms of wage declines in this job market. What to do with a handful of college credits but no formal degree?
If this describes your situation, pursue a reverse transfer. So you don’t have enough credits to wrap up your bachelors and going forward to complete it for whatever reason isn’t in the cards. Must those loose end credits sit around like scrap meat in a butcher shop? No. Let’s see if we can squeeze them into a more appealing format and sell them at a premium as one does with sausages, so to speak.
An interesting phenomenon happens in the educational world. Students with “only” two years of credit from a four-year institution are known as dropouts, yet those with the same amount of credits at a junior college (JuCo) earn a degree. Likewise, those with only “some college” on a resumé earn less on average than those who have earned an associates.
Yet it rarely occurs to us to convert unspent 4-year class time into a 2-year degree. When we think of JuCo college credit transfers we tend to see a one way street, with students usually transferring their credits “forward” to a bachelors-conferring school. But the opposite can happen as well, with a 4-year school’s credits applying “backwards” to a JuCo institution in what’s known as a reverse transfer. In many cases students may have already earned an associates degree without knowing it.
In order to achieve a reverse transfer one must work with a JuCo registrar to see where they stand. Each school has its own set of criteria for degree conference, with most requiring at least some credits to be earned at their institution. Ergo, it makes good sense for those who already have JuCo credits under their belt to start this pursuit at their former school while those who do not may want to shop around to see which schools provide the most flexibility in this area. Even if a JuCo requires that you earn some credits there, you can usually find these at a fraction of the cost of a four-year institution. The cost may be an especial bargain compared to the added earnings power.
In addition to associates degrees, former students may want to also research job certifications. This particularly applies to those with advanced coursework behind them. Many employers place a strong emphasis on certain certifications in their field. To earn a certificate one must usually take coursework and/or pass tests proving competence in some specialized area. Many times certificate conferrers will accept college credits in lieu of their own courses. Again dropouts may find themselves already largely or fully qualified for this form of resumé builder.