How to Transfer Colleges - Tips for Transfer Students

Reasons for transferring colleges are varied, but each year, nearly 38% of college students choose to transfer institutions, according to data collected by the National Clearinghouse Research Center–that’s 4 out of 10 students. If you find yourself looking to transfer institutions, know that we are here to help. Solomon Admissions Consultants work with transfer students each year, consulting on transfer admission strategy and guiding students through their transfer admissions applications. The transfer process differs quite a bit from the traditional undergraduate application process, so it’s helpful to have a transfer admissions consultant working with you through the various nuances of the transfer admissions cycle. As you start to think about potentially transferring, here are some things to know.


Preparing to Transfer

Here are a few tips to help you create a smooth and easy transition as you prepare to transfer institutions:

  1. Meet with your advisor. Ask questions about the transfer process, they are there to advise you – not just in course selection, but in the transfer process too. You will need to fill out college report forms, request your transcript, and likely, have questions about transfer credits, your advisor is there to help you with this. Utilize them as a resource.

  2. Know what credits will transfer. You can meet with your Advisor to discuss this, but some colleges also do hold articulation agreements with other schools – which if they do, may mean all of your credits will transfer (saving you time, and money).

  3. Meet with your professors and attend office hours. When transferring, you will not be using your recommendation letters from high school, but rather, you will be securing new recommendation letters from professors at your current institution. It’s incredibly important that these professors know you, before writing these letters, so be sure to attend office hours weekly. You want to build a relationship with each of your potential recommenders, only interacting in class is not enough.

  4. Be involved in your current campus community. The colleges you put transfer applications in to are going to look heavily at what you have done since enrolling in college. They want to see not just the courses (and grades) you’ve received since enrolling, but also want to see how you’ve contributed to your local community.


College student thinking about transferring colleges.
Learn more about the College Transfer process

Building Your List

Are Some Schools More Transfer-Friendly Than Others?

When looking at building your college list for potential schools to transfer to, it’s important to seek out schools that are what we call, “transfer-friendly.” You can look at the Common Data Set to gain an idea of the percentage of transfer students accepted each year at schools you are considering. Transfer-friendly institutions would be ones in which the college has a higher acceptance rate for transfer students than they do for traditional applicants. There are many transfer-friendly schools, some that may even surprise you, but not all schools are – it’s important to do your homework here.


Can I Apply to a School I Was Previously Rejected At?

While you can certainly apply to a school you were previously rejected at, the odds of you being accepted are questionable. You would need to have a significant change of heart, perhaps a change in major, or very targeted reasoning that differed from your first application. You simply cannot recycle the same application you previously used. You need a new angle if you are going to attempt this.


Why Are You Transferring?

This seems like a straightforward question, but for many students, it can be hard to articulate. Perhaps it’s because you planned it all along, but other times, it’s due to the school you did choose to attend, not being the right fit for you personally. When building a list of schools to potentially transfer to, it’s important to think about your reasons for wanting to transfer in the first place – make sure your list of transfer institutions best reflects the experience you are seeking.


Preparing Your Transfer Applications

What to Expect

The application process for a transfer student differs from that for a first-time college student. For example, many do not require SAT or ACT scores for transfer students. You will also find that the applications themselves, differ greatly in the transfer round than they did in the traditional round. It can be a bit unnerving at first, so give yourself extra time to explore the nuances and really get familiar with the different applications – there is a bit of a learning curve.


In addition to the applications being different, as a transfer student, you will also need to formally request transcripts from your current institution, as well as any former institutions (college, high school, etc.) Some schools also require a college report to be completed, course catalog information on all the courses you have taken in college, and potentially also a mid-term report.


Other materials you will likely need to submit include letters of recommendation, a personal statement (explaining your reasons for wanting to transfer, more than likely), and potentially, additional supplement essays. It will be very important to know when the various deadlines are for your applications and make sure you adhere to them. These deadlines will vary by school. For a fall start, you may see applications due as early as February, though some will not be due until May, June, or July – it all depends on the school.


You’ve got this!

Though the transfer process can seem daunting, if you prepare in advance, and understand your “why” going into the applications, that will help you immensely. Your advisor will serve as an invaluable resource to you, but our college transfer consultants are certainly available to help you as well. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help!

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