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How Long Are College Credits Valid?

written by: Destiny Keller•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/8/2011

Life happened and you put your college classes on hold. Now it's been 10 years and you want to go back. Are your classes still good? Can college credits expire? Do you have to retake all of them? This article debunks common myths about going back to school and explains how to get back on track.

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    Many people wonder if college credits expire, or use it as an excuse to not go back to school. In all technicality, college credits do not expire. However, each institution is different and has their own policies about credits. In general, you will have an easier time if you return to the institution where you originally got the credits. The sooner you return to that institution, the lower the chance that their degree programs have changed. If you end up going to another institution, your credits should still be worth something. Sometimes they only transfer to electives, so be sure to clarify whether they will transfer for the specific classes they were originally meant to be.

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    Expiration Date Myth

    A common myth many people come across is that college credits expire after 10 years. This is a generalization that is untrue for most institutions. However, some colleges have have strict guidelines and credits expire after only 5 years! Once again, it is your responsibility to contact the institution you plan to attend and see what they will accept from your previous work. If you are unhappy about their decisions about what credits they will accept and will count toward you degree, try shopping around for other colleges that might accept more of your previous work.

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    Academic Advisors

    Academic advisors are a great resource at all times in college. They may also be known as academic counselors. They help keep current students on track to achieving their degrees, and help returning students with credit adjustments. Anytime you are returning to school after a break, you should see an academic advisor. They will help you figure out what you need to graduate, or get the credits you are looking for. Be sure to contact them a few weeks before classes start, as they often have busy schedules. A good thing to note is big colleges or universities are usually separated by Majors or sections of colleges - such as there is an advisor for the Biology department and the Chemistry department. Either way, every college should have an academic advisor who can tell you if college credits can expire at their particular university.

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    Patience Patience Patience...

    When trying to get back into school, a lot of paperwork is likely to be involved, no matter where you plan on attending. Be sure to know the date classes begin at the institution you plan on attending, and contact them several weeks in advance during normal business hours. This way you will have plenty of time to get all your paperwork in order before classes start. Just be sure to have patience with the institution, as sometimes they may not be clear on their exact policies themselves.

    Congratulations on going back to school, and good luck!

    Sources:

    http://allnurses.com/distance-learning-nursing/do-college-credits-240573.html

    http://indianapolis.momslikeme.com/Members/JournalActions.aspx?g=246831&m=1025484&grpcat=Education+