Transferring to a Four-Year University


Many Palomar students are astutely completing their lower division education requirements with plans to ultimately transfer to a 4-year university.  Others may not have those goals now, but that could change.  This page provides some information for both groups of students.

First and foremost, transferring is a complicated process that must consider many factors such as your plans/major, the school(s) you wish to attend, the year you wish to transfer, and even where you live.  Palomar College has a Transfer Center that will answer many of your questions regarding how to choose a school, what are the requirements for transfer (they differ from school to school and even year to year), how to apply, and roughly what it will cost.  Please visit the Transfer Center website and talk to your counselor with questions and to develop a plan for a successful transfer to a school of your choice.

The following was taken from a 2009 article in US News & World Report.  It is some general considerations for any student wishing to transfer from a community college to a 4-year university.

  1. Complete your AA degree.  Students who obtain the AA tend to complete their Bachelors degrees at a higher rate than those who do not.  Even better, Palomar College offers an AA-T degree in psychology which, if completed, provides you with priority admission to a university in the CSU system!
  2. Shop Around.  Keep your options open as you explore what school is right for you.  Don’t rule out seemingly more expensive or difficult-to-get-into schools.  There are often times ways of getting around hurdles like these.  Contacting specific school and meeting with your counselor here at Palomar can help in this regard.
  3. Plan Ahead. Don’t wait until the semester before graduation to start thinking about transferring.  Many schools have transfer agreements with Palomar or they have specific courses you must complete before they will accept you.  The more info you have, the better.  I can’t stress this one enough, either:  KEEP YOUR GRADES UP.  You may not know what you want to do in the future now but I have seen countless students who eventually develop a degree goal that became an uphill climb because they need to rehabilitate poor grades in order to be accepted.  This is particularly important if you plan to go on to graduate school in psychology.  Graduate school is competitive and grades factor into acceptance decisions.  I’ve seen literally hundreds of students who are in their final year or two of upper division work struggling to get accepted in grad school because their first year or two has some less-than-ideal grades.  Grades are not the final factor in determining acceptance to a program, but they do demonstrate your ability to take on and succeed in college level courses as well as provide a gauge of how well you have mastered the material to date.  Build a strong foundation now!
  4. Know what actually transfers.  Not every class that you take will be accepted by any given school.  They all have their own requirements and agreements.  Reviewing these pages, visiting with a Palomar counselor and contacting the schools you are interested in will help you enroll in classes that will increase your chances of acceptance.  Again, Palomar’s AA-T degree in psychology is designed to do exactly that. will also help you to identify classes accepted for transfer.
  5.  Don’t be shy.  Many Palomar student rarely go visit their professors during office hours.  Similarly, they rarely meet with an advisor in the Counseling department.  Don’t be one of those students!  Keeping your advisor aware of your goals and progress can help you choose the best pathway to achieve your transfer goals.
  6. Pick a Major. If you are reading this, you have likely already chosen psychology as a major, or are perhaps still considering your options.  Regardless, if you know your major, you are better able to decide which classes to take or are required for transfer so you can get all your major prep work completed.  Once again, can help!
  7. Get Admitted. Check to make sure you are submitting all the correct application paperwork.  Find out if the program you are interested in requires a separate application process in addition to the main university application.  Pay attention to all deadlines!
  8. Get money! Remember #2 above, where you were advised to keep an open mind, even for “expensive” schools?  Check out all opportunities for grants and, if needed, loans.  Fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The earlier in the year that you do this, the greater the chance of an award, so do not delay!  Also, meet with counselors and contact the financial aid office of the schools to which you are applying for other options.  There is money out there!
  9. Attend Orientation.  You would be surprised how different life on a University campus can be compared to Palomar.  There are definitely similarities, but understanding how everything works and where everything is located will ease the transition.  Take advantage of every opportunity to help you succeed!
  10. Stay Focused.  Classes.  Work.  Family.  Friends.  Our lives are complicated and busy!  It is very easy to let things slide.  Don’t!  Remind yourself frequently of your goals and prioritize accordingly.  It’s OK to take some time to hang with friends or to just put that Econ project down to recharge the batteries.  But make a point of getting back to it!

The following pages provide information to help guide your course choices at Palomar for students who plan to transfer to schools in either the Cal State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) systems, since these are where most, but not all, of our students transfer.

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