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Types of College-Level Transfer Credit Video

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  • 0:03 College Credit
  • 1:28 Getting Credit
  • 4:42 Transferring Credits
  • 6:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

College can be expensive, but one way to save is by transferring credits to the college you are attending. In this lesson, we'll look at ways to earn and transfer credits, including some common limitations when transferring credits.

College Credit

Carly is a smart and ambitious high school student. She wants to be the first person in her family to get a college degree, but she knows that her family can't afford to help her pay for college. She is going to try to get some scholarships, but her guidance counselor also suggested that she try to get some college credits before going off to college.

Carly was surprised when her guidance counselor said that. How could she get college credits before college? And what, exactly, is a college credit?

Every course in college is given a certain number of credits, or a unit of measure for how much work a student must put in to a certain course. Sometimes credits are called 'credit hours' or just 'hours,' and sometimes they are called 'points.' Some courses may be two or three credits, and some may be worth four.

To get a college degree, you are required to finish a certain number of credits. The exact number is determined by your college, but most bachelor's degrees require around 120 credits. Because the more credits you need translates into more time and money you have to spend on your degree, it just makes sense to start college off with some credits.

But how is it even possible to have college credit before even starting at your college? Let's take a closer look at how Carly can earn credit and transfer it in.

Getting Credit

When Carly asks her guidance counselor how she could possibly have college credit before starting college, her counselor tells her that she should focus on testing out of as many classes as possible.

There are several types of exams that can lead to college credit. For many high school students, Advanced Placement, or AP Exams, are a good choice as are the similar International Baccalaureate, or IB Exams. Both AP and IB exams involve taking classes in high school that are advanced. The classes are taught by high school teachers, and they will prepare you for the exam at the end of the school year.

Most colleges accept AP and IB exams in lieu of three credits, though some could only count for two credits and some could count for four credits. So for every class and exam that Carly decides to take, it's like she's taken a college course. For example, if Carly decides to take the English literature AP exam, her college is likely to accept a passing score on the exam as if she took a 3-credit English class. That means that she can start college as if she's already taken an English class!

AP and IB exams are available in a variety of subjects; check with your school's guidance counselor to see what AP and IB classes your school offers.

AP and IB exams aren't the only way to test out of college courses, either. Some tests, like the College Level Examination Program, or CLEP exams, allow students to take an exam to get college credit without having taken a class. When it comes to earning credits, the requirements are similar to AP and IB exams. For each test that you pass, your college is likely to give you credits as though you'd taken that class.

But tests like the CLEP exams don't involve taking a class first, like AP and IB exams do. Instead, Carly can study on her own to prepare for the test. When she's ready, she registers for the test and goes to a testing location to take the exams. Since the registration fee for each test is only around $100 and college classes can cost in the thousands of dollars, this is a great way for Carly to save some money and time.

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Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

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