A 28 year old friend wants to go back to school for an undergrad degree to become a social worker. She dropped out of school 10 years ago within the first year. She'd like to start fresh and not transfer any credits.

Does she have to transfer from her previous school in another state, or can she apply directly and simply leave out she previously attended another university? She does not want to transfer any credits.

She didn't do well 10 years ago, and is concerned and considering not going if she has to transfer her bad grades. The universities website does not say you have to transfer grades, just that you can, and doesn't say how GPA is calculated based on that.

Can she simply apply and leave out her old college, or will this torpedo her chances of being accepted? She's applying to a middle-of-the-road state school. If this is not possible/wise, how should she approach admissions given she doesn't want to transfer credits?

Edit - she will call admissions on Monday

She's going to call admissions Monday. My guess is the credits won't transfer due to age. I'd be surprised if the credits didn't transfer but the GPA does.


Admissions said she should apply and disclose she previously attended a university. They said they would have found out when she filled out FAFSA assuming she filled it out at the previous university.

The credits won't count because they are too old, but she'll probably have to provide an official transcript to show she doesn't owe money to the previous university.

Her GPA will be based only on credits earned at the current university. They said that was a pretty standard policy nationwide.

  • Is this in the US?
    – Sursula
    Jun 25, 2022 at 18:50
  • @Sursula-they- yes Jun 25, 2022 at 18:51
  • And did she study the same thing before?
    – Sursula
    Jun 25, 2022 at 19:14
  • @Sursula-they- I don't think so Jun 25, 2022 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


In the US, it is nearly a universal policy that institutions compute GPA based only on courses taken at the specific institution. Grades from courses taken at a previous institution are not included in the GPA computation.

Based on grades in courses taken at a previous institution, a student might be awarded transfer credit. This is often limited based on the specific course (e.g. a specific course might or not be acceptable for transfer) and the grade (e.g. only grades of C or better might transfer.) If your friend has any transferrable credits, then it is probably in their best interest to take advantage of the credits.

Your friend's past record might influence an admissions decision at an institution with selective admissions but probably wouldn't have any negative impact at the vast majority of institutions that have open or relatively open admissions.

Not supplying required transcripts could (if discovered) lead to expulsion from the new institution.

  • Expulsion would only occur if the student hid their previous enrollment. If previous enrollment were disclosed but the transcript was not provided, the application might be rejected but there would not be expulsion. Some universities might not bother looking at the transcript. Jun 26, 2022 at 20:50
  • "not supplying required transcripts" is basically equivalent to "hid their previous enrollment" modulo the case where a student admitted to having taken courses at the other institution but refused to provide (or couldn't provide) transcripts. In that case, the application would probably be considered incomplete until the transcripts were provided or some exception was made (e.g. if the other institution's records were destroyed in a fire the requirement might be waived.) Jun 26, 2022 at 23:39

Almost everywhere (in the US) requires that you submit academic records of all previous education. It would be a sort of fraud if you don't do that. But for something ten years out of date it is unlikely that poor early performance will be much of a negative factor in admissions. People change and other people recognize the possibility.

Prior credits may not "transfer" in any case, both because the grades might be low and the age of the transcript.

So, it is better to be honest. If necessary, explain somewhere why the past has been overcome as needed. Most such things can be accommodated, whereas discovered dishonesty is harder to deal with.

  • A major concern is how the GPA will transfer. The university website has 0 info, and she doesn’t want to apply if it’ll follow her. Jun 25, 2022 at 19:17
  • 1
    That is up to the university, of course, She can talk to an admissions counsellor at most such universities to see if there will be any consequences. I'd guess, however, that the effect would be small if any. But every U has its own rules and standards. Have her call the admissions office.
    – Buffy
    Jun 25, 2022 at 19:34
  • 2
    In the vast majority of cases in the US, transfer credits are not counted in GPA calculations- only credits taken at a particular institution are included in the GPA computation for that institution. Jun 25, 2022 at 21:03
  • 3
    "That is up to the university," I do not believe there is a single university that will include transferred grades in a GPA. Do you have an example? Jun 25, 2022 at 23:31
  • Also, there are often articulation agreements, which the university may or may not have voluntarily agreed to. Jun 25, 2022 at 23:41

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