Inside the BYU student transfer process

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Editor’s note: this story pairs with “Students say transferring to BYU can be complicated, rewarding process”

BYU senior Matthew Schaelling did everything he could to make his transfer from the University of Utah to Brigham Young University as easy as possible.

“Once I decided [to transfer] at the end of my freshman year, I kind of mapped out the rest of my classes,” Schaelling said. “I finished a certificate of general studies that was essentially an associate’s degree. When I transferred here to BYU, that basically waived all of my general requirements.”

Schaelling said he made use of BYU’s transfer guides to make sure he was on the right path.

“Because I had focused on packaging up my schooling into finishing up all my generals and making sure they transferred well, when I got here it was like, ‘Okay cool, I’ve finished all my generals. Now I just have my major classes and some religion classes,’” he said. “It was pretty painless as far as the process and bureaucracy of transferring.”

Not every transfer experience is easy, but BYU offers several online resources to help prospective transfer students prepare for BYU. BYU University Advisement Center director Karen Evans believes using those resources can help prospective students avoid misunderstandings over which credits do and don’t count toward general and program requirements.

“There should really be no reason why a student wouldn’t know what’s going to transfer or how it’s going to transfer if they look at one of these guides,” Evans said.

Articulation agreements with other schools have allowed BYU to build tools like the Transfer Guide and the Transfer Equivalency Search, which list classes from other universities that satisfy BYU’s course requirements.

BYU receives thousands of transfer applications each year, according to CollegeTransfer.net. (Saul Marquez)

BYU accepts different types of credit, from classes earned at other universities to AP and concurrent enrollment courses done in high schools. Prospective students need to complete those courses with a grade of C- or higher if they wish for them to fill BYU’s general education requirements.

BYU accepts 47 percent of the roughly 2,000 applications it receives, according to CollegeTransfer.net. University Communications reported that 650 – 700 new transfer students enroll each year out of the 850 – 900 who are admitted. Those students then submit their transcripts to Transfer Evaluation Services at the BYU Registrar’s Office. Each transcript is examined, according to Transfer Evaluations Services manager Joshua Richey.

“I have six student employees and three full-time staff, and one of the nine of us touches every single record that comes through our office,” Richey said. “Every transcript gets reviewed course by course.”

BYU will accept credits from any accredited institution, according to Richey. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll always fulfill a general or program requirement. Credits that don’t match with a BYU course generally count toward electives.

“What we’re trying to do is match outcomes of classes,” Richey said. “It’s when you start to get out of those entry, introductory courses, that we start to have some variations. Each department may have its own [approach for teaching] a topic.”

Richey said students should reach out to Transfer Evaluation Services if they feel their unmatched credits are equivalent to courses at BYU.

While there’s a process in place, it’s not perfect. Richey said they can match most entry-level courses, but the different colleges and departments on campus often have the final say in what is and isn’t equivalent. Coordinating with those colleges can sometimes be tricky.

“Not every college on campus works as openly with us,” Richey said. “That’s not necessarily on them, those relationships just haven’t been established and formalized throughout the years.”

Richey hopes to work more closely with the different colleges and departments in the future. He said they’re currently trying to engage more openly with the colleges on campus to better help students.

“If they find that the (evaluation of the) class is wrong, then we would usually say ‘send us a syllabus,’” Richey said. “That will give us a more granular look — including textbook information and what assignments are there — and then we can compare against our syllabi.”

The handling of transcripts is the biggest challenge Evans runs into when working with transfer students. She said some students are still enrolled in courses at their previous schools when they first send their transcripts to BYU. Because they haven’t completed those courses, BYU can’t offer them credit without them sending a second transcript at the end of the semester.

“A lot of transfer students miss that second step,” Evans said. “That’s the frustration on the students’ part and my part. They’ll say, ‘UVU knew I was coming to BYU,’ so they expect it to happen automatically, but the student has to request a second transcript.”

Evans said she encourages students to reach out to the University Advisement Center and Transfer Evaluation Services if they have any concerns. She said mistakes do sometimes occur and that credits can sometimes slip through the cracks.

“If you’ve got a question, always ask,” she said. “We’ve had tons of students enroll in GE classes they didn’t ever need to take because they thought it hadn’t transferred when, in fact, we just didn’t know they had them.”

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