Plan to Transfer? Tips for a Smooth Transition
The process of transferring from one college to another can be painstaking and time-consuming. These tips can help you transition more easily.
Transfer for the right reasons.
You may be in a two-year program looking to complete a four-year degree, you may be looking for a specific program your current school falls short on, you might want to move closer to or further from home, or perhaps you chose a less-desirable college to begin with when you weren’t accepted to your top-choice schools. These can all be good reasons to change. Other problems, like an inability to form a social group, mental or emotional issues, or financial or academic struggles, may or may not be solved by attending a different school. Have a plan for how the transfer will resolve these issues.
Start the process early.
The steps detailed below can take time and effort. To increase your chances of success in your new college, give yourself plenty of time to handle the transfer process.
Keep up with your current coursework.
This may be difficult depending on your reasons for transferring, but a high GPA and good recommendations from your current professors will increase your chances of being accepted to a new program.
Fill in the blanks.
Once you have a list of target schools, research the following to be sure you have the complete picture before applying.
- Transfer acceptance rate: Generally, the acceptance rate for transfer students is slightly lower than it is for incoming freshman. You can find transfer statistics for a specific school by doing an online search for the college name and “Common Data Set” to see data reported by the college. Don’t forget that competitive or impacted majors may have separate eligibility requirements or acceptance rates at some colleges.
- Admission requirements: Make sure you meet the minimum number of credit hours, minimum GPA and other eligibility requirements for transfer students. Start on the college’s website. Also, if a target school is one that accepted you as an incoming freshman, contact the school to determine if your previous acceptance still stands or if you need to re-apply.
- Application process: Some programs will require transfer students to provide letters of recommendation, transcripts from college and maybe high school, or an essay explaining why they want to transfer. If you’re asked to write an essay, remember to provide specific details on how the new program is a better fit for you rather than writing negatively about your current school.
- Aid available to transfer students: Many schools offer their largest scholarships to incoming freshmen. Research the grants and scholarships available to transfer students from the target school and the department to have a better idea of affordability.
- Fit for academic and career goals: Make sure the new program is a fit for your goals by looking at graduation and placement rates, course descriptions and syllabi, and career and academic services offered.
- Credit transfers: Even when transferring from a community college to a four-year program with an admissions or articulation agreement, you may find that not all your credits apply in the same manner at the target school. Be sure you understand how credits will be applied toward graduation and program requirements so you know if you will graduate on time without repeating coursework or outlasting scholarships with a renewal limit.
- Transfer atmosphere: Find out how transfer-friendly your target schools are by seeing if they offer academic advisers, orientation programs, visits, housing or other programs specifically for transfer students. These offerings can make a difference in your ability to find a new social community and assistance on a new campus.
Know how your financial aid is affected.
Besides merit aid available to transfer students, understand how your current financial aid will be affected by a move. Use the Common Data Set and call the financial aid office to find answers to your questions about aid at a new school.
- Change in federal funds: Some federally funded but campus-based aid, like Federal Work-Study, is never portable. You will lose these awards and may or may not see them matched by your new school, depending on that school’s cost of attendance, financial aid policies and available funds. Federal loan limits may also be affected by transferring from a two-year program to a four-year college. If you transfer mid-term, some federal financial aid funds may be returned to the government.
- Loss of state and institutional aid: Your current school will no longer provide financial aid awards for attendance at your new college. If you change states, you will not receive funds from the state of your previous college; if you stay in the same state, you may receive fewer state funds based on timing and funding availability.
- FAFSA updates: Unless you transfer between academic years, you will need to update your current FAFSA with your new school choices. This will result in a new Student Aid Report and financial aid packages from the new schools. If you don’t receive this information within four weeks of resubmitting your FAFSA, contact each school’s financial aid office.
- Student loan repayment timeline: Contact your student loan lender about your plans to leave one school and re-enroll in another. If you are re-enrolling immediately at least half time, you will likely be eligible for deferment on your student loan payments; otherwise, you may need to start repaying previously disbursed loans within six months.
- Other financial considerations. If you currently attend school as in-state student but plan to transfer to an out-of-state college, your tuition costs may increase dramatically. In addition, if the transfer of credits or changing programs results in taking longer to graduate, you will incur additional costs before graduation.
Once you know which schools you will apply to as a transfer student, start making connections. Contact academic advisers, professors and internship offices to understand how they will assist you in your new program. Visit campuses if possible. Connect with other students, especially other transfer students, through social media.
Get a good start.
Once you have finalized your transfer choice, continue to connect with other transfer students at orientation sessions specifically for transfer students. Get involved in activities and talk to classmates in your upper-level courses to meet more people with interests similar to yours. Find an on-campus job to meet people and earn extra money. Get to the career center right away to be sure you’re ready to take on internships and find a job after graduation.