There are several reasons why students want to know how long do college credits last. They might want to know because they plan to use their credits toward a specific goal, some students might have decided to pick up where they left off in their studies, or they might be considering transferring from college to university.
However, before they go forward with their planning, there is one thing that should be tackled—the credits themselves. Not too many students have a clear idea of what college credits are. So first, let’s take a look at what college credits actually are, and afterward, we’ll focus on their durability.
What Are College Credits?
While there isn’t a unified definition of college credits, they can be described as the hours spent in lectures, homework, and lab work. One-semester courses usually have three credits or nine hours per week.
Credits depend on the course workload. The bigger the course load the higher the credits, though not all universities follow the same procedure. Generally speaking, in order to complete an associate degree, you need 60-90 credits. While for a bachelor’s degree, you would need up to 120 credits. So, the number of credits you need to graduate depends on the type of degree.
Now that we cleared that up let’s see how long do college credits last.
How Long Do College Credits Really Last?
To put it simply, college credits last forever. However, there are a few factors that you need to be aware of as these factors can affect the validity of your credits. When it comes to credits earned in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM), the credits are more likely to expire after a period of 10 years. This comes as a result of advancements made daily that evolve the methodologies of teaching and understanding of the subjects within the field. So, credits earned decades ago in these courses might not be accepted at the current time.
Next, not every university offers the same flexibility in recognizing previously earned credits, so it’s always best to do research on which universities have a higher chance of accepting your credits. And finally, when it comes to credit validation you need to keep in mind the three Cs. We’ll be touching on them down below:
This is closely related to what was previously said above in relation to STEM courses. Credits earned a long time ago in rapidly evolving fields will most likely not be accepted. However, credits earned on courses such as general education or related to the humanities such as history, language, and philosophy, will have no problem in being accepted. For this purpose, it’s always best to inquire which of your previous courses are still relevant.
Higher education allows a level of flexibility between the majors of a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, or between an associate degree and bachelor’s degree. However, if the credits you have earned previously are not applicable to the field you are interested in studying now, your credits will most likely not be accepted. Make sure to match the relevance between the credits you already have with the new courses.
Accreditation of the institution where you studied previously is extremely important when it comes to the value of your credits. This is important because accreditation speaks to the quality of your education. Institutions are accredited in numerous ways. For instance, Bay Atlantic University is accredited by the ACICS – Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. BAU is also certified to operate as an institution of higher education by the Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC) of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) of Washington, D.C.
That’s why many students are concerned about the credits they received from unaccredited schools. More or less, many are afraid that all that hard work can go to waste. Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do. Some universities do allow students to sit in for examinations and based on the exam results, universities might accept credits from an unaccredited institution.
In addition to the three Cs, it’s also important to remember that universities have their own specific transfer policies. They determine which credits are transferable and which are not. Some universities value the life experience a student gained before transferring. For instance, students who have work experience, are currently employed, or have a military background may experience no problem having their credits transferred.
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How to Transfer Credits?
Now that you are more familiar with what credits are and how long they last, you’re probably wondering what the credit transfer process is. First thing first, in order to maximize your credits, you need to make sure credits are ready for transfer. Credits can be transferred by following a few simple steps:
- The first step you need to make is to email the university you want to apply to. In the email, you should specify that you need information on their transfer policies. It’s best to keep in contact with an admission advisor from the selected university, who will help you make this process run more smoothly.
- Prepare for an admissions interview. Try not to stress about the interview. This particular interview is mostly centered on getting a feel of your personality, your background, and future plans.
- Make sure all your transcripts and relevant documents are ready, signed, and sealed by previous university officials before the application deadline. Keep in mind that if something is missing from your documents, it might take a while for your former university to issue it.
- Apply for admission. Be careful not to confuse the transfer deadline with the freshman application deadline!
Even though credits might last forever, there are several rules and policies that dictate which of your credits can be used and transferred. At this point, research is essential for you, so confirm beforehand whether your credits are accredited, relevant and if the university you have selected will accept your credits.