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The challenge of making a class transfer to a foreign university

Daniela McVicker

When you are a college student in a new country, you may not know how to continue your education.

You must learn how to make a class transfer to your new school.

I grew up in Bosnia during a very rough time. But still, my family hasn’t experienced any hardships, and we had a nice life. My father was a physicist and provided for us very well. 

In 2002, following an international conference, my father was offered a job in the United States. He would be part of a research team and was very excited about the opportunity. 

We had many family talks about this and finally decided that we should make the move.

We immigrated to the USA from Bosnia in 2003. At that time, I had just finished my second year of university study at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology. I was studying computer science. When we arrived and settled in, I began to look at local colleges and universities to see if I could get a class transfer of my coursework from Bosnia. 

What I found was that it is not easy to get a class transfer, but with lots of work, you can get this done. 

Here is what I went through and how I finally got all of my courses accepted by a university. I hope my experience will be able to help others, because it was successful.

We settled in St. Louis, Missouri. There are several colleges and universities here, so I had lots of options to explore. I made appointments with the admissions counselors of the schools that had good computer science programs. The good thing was I had studied English back in Bosnia, and I was pretty fluent. If you are not fluent in English, you probably need to make that your top job now. I was told that I would have to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) before I could be admitted. I took the test, passed it, and had the scores sent to the three universities I was thinking about.

My big worry was a class transfer of my coursework from my university in Bosnia. 

I had spent two years of my life in study and did not want to have to start all over again.I made appointments with the deans of computer science programs at three universities. I sat down with them and went over my transcripts. Of course, they were in Bosnian, so I had to explain what each course was. 

No one was going to just accept my description of what each course was. I had to get the transcript translated into English by a professional translator. So, I got that done and re-submitted my transcripts. This is not enough, and you should know this in the beginning. You cannot get a class transfer from a foreign university just by a course title. I had to request the course guide from the computer science department at my old university. Once I got that course guide, I had to have each class description translated by a professional. Just like the transcript, I had to pay for this translation work. But it is worth it to use a certified professional because the school will want it to be as official as possible. Then I had to go back and meet with the deans of the three schools I was considering. 

They took the translated descriptions and compared them to their courses, and told me which classes would transfer.

I chose the school that gave me the highest class transfer number, so I did not lose too much. Now I am settled into my new university and finishing up my third year of study. 

If I want to give advice to others who are trying to transfer into American universities from universities in their homelands, I would tell you the following:

  • Come with your transcripts and your class description documents from your university.
  • Get those documents translated by a professional as quickly as you can. Getting this done after you have applied to a university here will really slow things down.
  • Take a crash course in English if you are not fluent. Most schools will require that you take the TOEFL or another test to show you are fluent.
  • Start early. If you want to enter a university in the fall semester (late August), you need to start very early in the spring, if not before. It takes time to have your coursework evaluated by the department of your study field.
  • Your performance will be assessed with several methods, various writing assignments being one of them. Pay special attention to the quality of your writing, especially in the beginning. Use online tools or services like TopWritersReview if you feel the need for a second pair of eyes.
  • Look at more than one university if you can. One school offered a class transfer of only 12 of my classes while another one offered a transfer of 18. That makes a big difference when you are trying to finish your degree an move on with your career.

Daniela McVicker is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor at Topwritersreview.

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