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Early College Students and Student Types

Early College students who will complete an associate's degree from a North Carolina Community College can opt to be considered as a first year student or a transfer student as a new undergraduate student at WCU. For most early college students, advantages to being classified as a first year student outweigh any advantage to being classified as a transfer student. Consider the similarities and differences below to determine which student type (first year or transfer) would suit you best.

Admission Deliberation

The Office of Admission at WCU reviews new undergraduate applicants as to admission to the university and not to a specific program of study.

  • The stronger an applicant's academic credentials, the more likely the applicant will receive a favorable decision. The amount of coursework and college GPA carry significant weight in any admission decision and, depending upon the amount of credit earned, can trump high school credentials regardless of student type (first year or transfer).
  • Official high school transcripts, standardized test scores (ACT or SAT), and official college transcripts for any colleges attended initially are requested at the time of application for all new undergraduate applicants. [NOTE: Admission to some academic programs may be dependent upon standardized test score results, whether an applicant is first year or transfer.]
  • On April 7, 2022 the UNC Board of Governors voted to extend the current testing waiver for students applying for admissions through Fall 2024. Therefore, students have the option to submit an ACT or SAT test score, however test scores are not required for admission decisions at this time.
  • UNC Minimum Course Requirements (MCR) and Minimum Elegibility Requirements (MER) from high school must be met. WCU is authorized to make exceptions to those requirements in certain situations (e.g., if an applicant has earned 24 or more semester hours of transferable college credit through enrollment at another college). An early college student who will earn or has earned an associate's degree would be considered for admission under this exemption.
  • Application deadlines sometimes differ first year and transfer students (, but all students are strongly encouraged to apply early in an application cycle. Applying toward the end of an application period can disadvantage an applicant, whether a first year or transfer applicant. Many other processes are dependent upon admission to the university, and applying later in an applicant cycle can negatively impact other things like financial aid packaging and awarding, scholarship consideration, advising and registration, etc.

Credit Earned Elsewhere

Credit is assessed and awarded based upon the content and credentials of the course or examination and the student's performance in the course or on the exam. Whether an applicant is admitted as a first year student or a transfer student, the credit granted will not differ.

Class Standing

Student classification (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) is based upon the number of credit hours accepted from elsewhere (college credits or examination credits) and the number of credit hours earned at WCU. Because the amount of credit granted does not differ whether a student's type if first year or transfer, class standing is not impacted by student type either.

Campus Housing

First year students and transfer students are both new undergraduate students, and University Policy 96 requires new undergraduate students to live on campus. Exemptions to the on-campus housing policy can be requested and are considered on a case-by-case basis, whether or not an applicant is first year or transfer. By Policy 96 definition:

  • All newly admitted, degree-seeking undergraduates who have not attended college following high school completion (excluding enrollment in the summer immediately following high school graduation) are subject to a two academic year (four fall or spring semesters) requirement to live in the residence halls. This student type includes those who have earned credit while in high school (i.e., early college or dual enrollment students).
  • Base upon the current wording of Policy 96, being classified as a transfer student for admission purposes would not exempt an early college graduate from living on campus or going through the exemption process.

New Student Orientation

All new undergradutes are required to attend an orientation session.

  • First year students benefit from a more in-depth, 1½ day orientation session and have more session options from which to choose.
  • Transfer students attend a one-day orientation, and fewer session options exist.
  • Early college students who have earned an associate's degree can request to participate in a transfer orientation session. They do not have to be a transfer student to make this request.

Financial Aid Consideration

No differences exist as to consideration for federal and state financial aid based upon student type. Student loan thresholds and eligibility are based upon the number of total earned hours, irrespective of student type (

Scholarship Consideration

Student type does make a difference in terms of scholarship consideration. While being classified as either a first year or a transfer student does not guarantee that an applicant will be competitive enough or eligible for a scholarship, applying as either a first year student or a transfer student impacts scholarships for which an applicant can be considered. Currently, more scholarships and scholarship amounts exist (as designated by donors) for first year students than for transfer students (

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