5 Things to Consider When Deciding to Transfer


Deciding to transfer to a different college is a very serious decision and a sometimes confusing process.  While the process has its similarities to applying as a freshman, there are a few significant differences that in many ways make the experience more complicated than your original applications were.  While your SAT/ACT scores, high school transcript, and high school extracurricular activities are still requested by most colleges, additional factors such as college GPA and transcript and college extracurricular activities become determining factors, as well as, most importantly, the reason why you are choosing to apply as a transfer student.  In many ways, personal essays come to the forefront in the transfer application process, especially due to the limited number of spaces for transfer students at many schools.  While freshman classes are allotted a certain size, spots for transfer students are frequently affected by factors such as students changing programs within a school and taking time off or transferring out of a school, making the number of transfer students a school can accept frequently low.  Below is a list of 5 tips to help you navigate your decision to apply as a transfer student.

1. Figure Out What You Like and Dislike About Your Current School

Making a list of your likes and dislikes is a helpful step in determining if transferring to a new school is a good decision for you, and will also prove to be a helpful tool when researching possible schools to apply to for transfer.  Do you love your major but hate that you have to share all of your classes with 300 of your peers?  Then perhaps transferring to a smaller school, or one which offers smaller class sizes, is a good choice for you.  Do you love everything about your school but dislike all of your courses? Then perhaps considering a different major would be a better fit for you then transferring schools.

2. Do Your Research

Once you have elected to transfer, thoroughly research the schools you are considering applying to.  Not only is this a safe way to make sure that the schools offer the change which you are seeking, but it is also very important to do this as schools want to know why you are specifically choosing them when you apply.  Since you are already attending a college, the colleges which you are applying to for transfer want to make sure that you are very familiar with their offerings and that you would be truly committed to attending their school if you were accepted.

3. Pinpoint the Exact Reason Why You Want to Transfer

Not only is this typically an application essay question, but it is also a good way for you to prioritize which school(s) you would prefer to attend.  Try to find a specific about your current educational situation which you seek to change by attending a different school.

4. You Need Ample Time to Complete Applications

The application process will be lengthy, most likely more so than it was for your freshman applications.  Keep in mind that you will most likely need to provide all high school records, college records, and test scores, as well as professor recommendations, all of which take time on your part to assemble.  Additionally, if you currently attend a college which is a distance away from your high school, you will need to contact your school to arrange how your transcript will be sent. (The high school I attended requires students either be present in person or send in a written letter of consent through the postal service for the sending of a transcript; both options require time and energy on your part to arrange).  Furthermore, you will be busy with coursework at your current college, so budget your time wisely.

5. If You are Accepted, Consider Every Angle Before Responding “Yes”

If you are accepted to a college as a transfer student, congratulations! While initially you may be thrilled that you have the chance to attend a different school, there are some very important factors to consider before withdrawing from your current school and sending in your deposit to the new one.  First, check over how many of your college credits the transfer school is counting for you.  Every school has policies regarding how many credits and what type of credits they accept from transfer students.  Be sure to study which classes from your transcript they have accepted and which ones they have denied so that you know where you stand if you decide to attend their college.  Also be sure to review your financial aid offers and compare them to what you are currently receiving.

Summer is a great time to begin researching and applying for transfer (the CommonApp for transfer has already launched for the 2012-2013 school year) so if you think you want to transfer, don’t hesitate to start your applications now!

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