Transferring Colleges 101

How to Transfer Colleges Successfully

Transferring to another college is an increasingly common practice among students today—nearly one-third of college students end up transferring to another college.

Some of the most prevalent reasons for transferring colleges include: moving from a community college or two-year program to a four-year college or university, financial issues, family obligations, social concerns, incompatibility with a major or department, dislike of a college’s location, or a feeling that the college isn’t the right fit.

Whatever your reason for considering a college transfer, here are four important guidelines for transferring to another college to keep in mind:

1. Be Serious

Transferring colleges is as momentous a decision as going to college in the first place, and the college transfer procedure is neither simple nor easy. Give serious consideration to whether transferring to another college is the right step for you. Weigh the pros and cons. Transferring colleges may be exactly the solution for your situation, but you want to be absolutely sure it is before you start the college transfer process.

2. Do Your Homework

Knowing how to transfer colleges might seem intuitive, but it isn’t. Every college is different, so do your research on the one(s) you want to transfer to. Find out when your potential new school accepts transfer students—some of them only accept them in the fall, some take fall and spring transfers. Find out their application deadlines.

You’ll definitely have to submit your current college transcript and update your financial aid information (FAFSA/CSS profiles), but they may need other information or documents as well, such as SAT/ACT scores and letters of recommendation, or require placement tests or entrance exams. Determine what your new school needs well before you start to apply for a college transfer.

3. Manage Your Credits

By far the biggest potential headache of transferring to another college is making sure your credits will transfer with you. Here are some steps you can take to successfully manage your credit transfer:

  • Keep all your current college’s course paperwork: course catalog, class syllabi, completed coursework, report cards, unofficial copies of your transcript, etc. If your new school’s classes don’t match your old school’s (and they won’t), you can use this paperwork to show you’ve covered the material their classes teach.
  • Get an official transfer credit review from your new school’s registrar. This will tell you what classes they will automatically accept as transfer credits (general studies classes often fall into this category; note that most schools require a C grade or higher to accept a transfer credit).
  • If you’ve already taken major-specific classes that are less likely to transfer, contact the department of that major in your new school. They may see how your classes have covered their material, or be willing to accept some of your previous classes as substitutes for some of their requirements.

4. Take Initiative Early

A college transfer is like a job search: the initiative has to come from you, and it will always take longer than you expect. So start early. Get your application, transcripts, and other paperwork in well before the deadline. Learn the new campus—where will you live, eat, park, take classes? Look through their course catalog and decide what classes you’ll take to finish your degree.

Get in touch with the admissions office, registrar’s office, financial aid office, and department head of your major while you’re still considering whether or not to transfer. Follow up on these contacts if they don’t respond promptly. Be patient, but be proactive.

Bottom Line

Transferring colleges is not easy, but it is doable, and once you have made the college transfer, the peace of mind you may find in your new college will be worth the work it took to transfer there.

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