Celebrating high school graduation on top of mountain

Most colleges agree, taking a year out of the classroom before college is a good thing. Harvard actually encourages their students to take a year off, and goes as far as to attribute its 97% graduation rate to the number of their students who take a break after high school. Studies show that students who take a year out are more likely to graduate with higher GPAs than students who go straight into college. This was true even for students with lower academic achievement in high school.

If you are already interested in Verto Education, we hopefully don’t have to tell you how beneficial spending a semester, or a year abroad is. You’ve probably already heard that we can get you an admission decision with guaranteed transfer to any of our partner colleges. If you have your heart set on a different school, not to worry! We’re here to help make sure you get the college credit you deserve. Here is your step-by-step guide to getting your Verto Education credit transferred to your school of choice.

Step 1: Defer Your Admission

First off, congrats! You’re in. Compared to getting into college, deferring should be pretty simple. What does it mean to defer? It means to “postpone,” or “delay.” It does not mean “cancel” or “turn down.” Many universities give this option to students who are committed to attending that university, but for personal reasons — finances, emergencies, or other plans — want to wait a year to do so.

This is a fairly common occurrence, and will not cost you your place at the school. In fact, numerous colleges are encouraging their students to take a pre-college gap year. However, you must be upfront with your university about your intentions, and be ready to provide a thorough and convincing argument why you should be allowed to do so. Check well in advance about their deferral policy.

The American Gap Year Association has a list of university deferral policies that will help you in the initial research phase, but definitely get in touch with someone from your admissions office for more specific details and how-tos. You can also usually find your school’s policy on the admission page once you have been accepted.

Step 2: Do Your Research

Now that you’ve deferred your enrollment until second semester, or the following year, it’s time to work on getting your credits to transfer. In order to make sure you stay on track to graduate in four years, it’s good to have an idea of what major you’re interested in. Have a look at the general education requirements for your school, and your major specific requirements. Write down any courses you know you need to take and check to see if any of them match the courses you’ll be taking on your semester with Verto.

Your best resource is your school’s Course Catalog. The Course Catalog is a list, usually a PDF download, of every class your school offers. They generally list the course name (ex: Visual Art 101), the objectives of the course, and the number of credit-hours the course takes to complete.

Verto Education was designed to map to general education credits, so our Rhetoric and Composition course should fulfill the English or Writing general education requirement at your school, the Environmental Studies course should fill your science requirement, etc. If you are having trouble matching the courses, email Program Director Mallory (that’s me!) and I’d be happy to help.

Step 3: Email Your Academic Advisor

Once you’ve done your research (and sent me an email so I can help) it’s time to reach out to your university to talk to them about getting credit. Send your contact the following email template, be sure to CC: Mallory@VertoEducation.org

Dear [Name] (if you don’t have a specific contact use “Office of Admissions”),

I am very excited about the possibility of attending [college name] for my degree, and wanted to reach out about a program that I have been accepted into for a semester prior to arriving on campus. I am interested in attending  Verto Education’s first year semester in [semester location] and taking four courses, which are accredited by Portland State University. Could you help me confirm that these credits will map to [college name]’s core requirements for my first year? I’ve copied Verto’s Program Direction, Mallory Meiser, on this email. She will send over the course syllabi and a sample transcript to give you more information. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you and Verto to map out my college career.

Best wishes,

[Your Name] Class of 2023

I will follow up to that email with the course syllabi, a sample transcript, and any information we have gathered about which courses the Verto curriculum might transfer to. At this point you’ve done all you can to set yourself up for success. We’ll wait to hear back from the university, and schedule a call with the admissions team if need be, then evaluate your options based on their response. Typically colleges are more than willing to work with you to get everything approved!

Verto Student in front of waterfall in Costa Rica

Step 4: Evaluate Your Options

At this point your admissions counselor will come back with one of three responses:

Your credit will transfer – you’re all set!

This is the answer you are looking for! This means the credit that you earn on your semester will count towards your degree. Before you go, you’ll want to request the exact credit you’ll be getting for each course (if they haven’t told you already). This can sometimes take a month, or more, since each course needs to go to a specific academic department at your school for approval. The good news is that you’ll know exactly what all your credit will count for way before you arrive on campus. You’ll also want to check on the minimum GPA in order to transfer, just in case.

Your credit will transfer  – but you’ll have to reapply as a transfer student

Good news and bad news here. The good news is that you will be able to get college credit for your semester with Verto Education! Most likely, you’ll even be able to get the credit to transfer to general education requirements. The difference here is that you will be arriving on campus as a transfer student, not a freshman. This means that you might not qualify for some merit scholarships, and there might be specific courses that you need to take before you transfer. You will still be able to access FAFSA and stay on track to graduate in four years. Each case is very different here so make sure you schedule a call with the Verto team to talk through if this is an option for you. In a lot of cases, students can retain all of their scholarships, and transfer in seamlessly with general education credits which means the difference between being a transfer and freshman is pretty negligible.

You can take a year off – but you can’t earn credit

This is, obviously, not the answer you were hoping for.  While colleges are generally happy to help students defer, and even encourage taking year off, there are still a few who have policies against earning college credits during your year break. You might run into a policy like the one at Tulane University:

Because gap years are designed as enrichment opportunities, we ask that you do not attend another university or participate in a program that awards college credit during your period of deferral.

This is an extremely frustrating roadblock considering all the benefits colleges know that students get from gap years. At this point you have three options. You could: 

  1. Push back. Colleges want you to come to their school, that’s why you were accepted. Let them know that you are unwilling to take no for an answer, and see if you can talk to someone else in the department to give you a second opinion.
  2. Go anyway! If you are in a position that you can afford to take a year off and not earn college credit, consider taking that option. You’ll still walk away with a transcript from Portland State University and 16 credits (even if your college won’t formally “accept” them).
  3. Find  a school that recognizes the value of a freshman year abroad and supports you in your endeavor to make it an affordable, accessible part of your college career. Send a message to your school that policies like this actually hurt students, not help them.

No matter which answer your academic advisor comes back with, rest assured that you have a ton of options for college. A number of Verto students actually don’t decide on where they are going until the end of the semester. Since you’ll be entering in as a second semester student, you can spend your time with Verto learning about all the options you have for college and applying to other schools that interest you. Our team is here to support you on your path to a four year degree!

Step 5: Enroll With Verto!

Once you’ve finished the process of figuring out what your Verto credits will map to, all you have to do is buy your flights and get ready for a life changing semester abroad! Towards the end of your semester we’ll work with you to make sure your school has the transcripts they need and you are able to enroll in classes for the following semester. If you ever are feeling anxious about college, or unsure about your options for next year, our team is available to help you figure out the best path for you.