Transfer Vs. Occupational Courses at Community College

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Do you know the difference between transfer and occupational classes? If you’re a community college student, this is something you should know. These are two very different types of coursework in most cases, and it’s likely that you’ll be interested in taking one or the other, depending on your major. So what’s the difference?

Transfer Courses

The name implies the purpose here. Transfer classes are meant for transfer to a four-year college or university. Transfer courses usually fall under your general education requirements, like English, Math, Science, Art, and Music. But not every class will transfer just because they are in these areas. For example, Business Math probably won’t transfer, because it’s geared primarily toward business coursework and doesn’t provide enough algebra to lead to the higher level math and science courses usually required in Bachelor degree programs. In a nutshell, transfer classes are more broad, while occupational classes are very specific.

Occupational Classes

Occupational classes are those that count toward a two-year degree that does not transfer to a college or university. These classes are more specific. For example, a student in a technical major like Computer Aided Drafting will take a lot of very focused computer, drafting, and technical classes, and a student in a two-year business program will take classes geared toward his or her chosen area of business expertise. These classes are meant to teach the student skills that can be applied immediately upon graduation to the world of work, rather than broader courses that are meant to be built upon for further academic learning.

A General Rule of Thumb

Many students begin college undecided about their major. If you’re not sure whether you want to go to school for four or more years, it’s probably still a good idea to stick with transfer courses in case you do decide on a career that requires a four-year degree. Given a choice between two math classes, Business Math or College Algebra I, I’d probably recommend the algebra class because it can most likely be counted toward both an Associate’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree. Because its concepts are more thorough and in-depth, College Algebra I can usually be substituted for Business Math should you choose the two-year Business degree.

The difference between transfer and occupational classes can be confusing. I know. This is why I always recommend meeting with an academic adviser when making your schedule. Don’t let it stress you out, though. You will benefit from either kind of class, and the choices will become more clear as you move toward your decided major. It’s okay to take a few unnecessary classes here or there. I just don’t recommend going too far in your studies before making the decision between an occupational or transfer program.


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