Want to know how to transfer colleges but are intimidated by the process? Then this article is for you. Below, we’ll outline the different reasons students transfer along with a few requirements to begin the process. Whether you’re looking for a different kind of college experience, a different degree program, or a more affordable school, we’ve got you covered.
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Things to Consider Before Transferring Colleges
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While transferring colleges may seem confusing, it’s far from uncommon. In 2020, there were around 2.1 million transfers between institutions. Before we get into the process, let’s look into the most common reasons why college students switch schools.
Why Transfer Colleges?
Every student has certain academic and social expectations from their colleges. While some schools look great from the outside, you might feel out of place once there. Other institutions may lack the curriculum and the college experience you’re seeking.
Most students prefer changing their colleges for reasons related to their desired academic track. For instance, if you’re looking for a major in data science or artificial intelligence but your current school does not offer the specialization you’re seeking, changing colleges may be the only viable option.
Some students who do not receive admission to the institution of their choice may join a two-year community college with the intent of transferring later. Financial constraints, family situations, and dissatisfaction with your current college are among the most common reasons for transferring.
- A four-year degree student who wishes to transfer to another school offering the same four-year program.
- A two-year associate’s degree student who wants to move to a four-year college to obtain their bachelor’s degree.
- Students who have earned college credits in an associate’s or bachelor’s program but have been out of school for a prolonged period now wish to continue at a different institute.
- International undergraduates who want to complete their degrees at a U.S. college.
Planning Your College Transfer
It’s important to understand that transferring colleges is different from the admissions process for incoming freshmen. Your high-school transcript and SAT/ACT scores will take a back seat during a transfer. Since colleges are more interested in college transfer credits, they’ll ask transfer students to submit their college transcripts.
Some colleges may also ask for high-school transcripts, test scores, or high-school GPA, but generally, the primary emphasis is on college credits.
Second, every college has a different policy for transfer students regarding credit requirements. If you do not fulfill the prerequisite credit hours, you might spend additional time obtaining your degree. Grades are also important. Some transferring schools may refuse to accept your credit hours if you’ve received anything below a C.
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One of the most crucial aspects of your application process is applying before the deadline, or your transfer application may be rejected. Should this occur, you’ll have to wait another semester before you can apply again.
Note that most schools offer two intakes: Spring and Fall. Typically, spring semesters have an early to mid-November deadline. If you’re planning to start your college career in the fall semester, you’ll want to send your application in by mid-March.
Create a List of Admission Deadlines
Here’s a quick tip for ensuring that you do not miss out on the application process:
- Make a list of all the transfer schools where you’re applying.
- Visit their websites and note the application deadline.
- Arrange the list in ascending order by date.
- Keep checking the website for updates and make changes to your list accordingly.
Can I Transfer Mid-Semester?
Although transferring mid-semester is possible, most counselors don’t recommend it. You’ll lose all the credit hours you’ve earned during the semester. Plus, you’ll also have to pay your tuition fee twice, once at your existing school and again at your transfer school.
Can I Transfer Mid-Year (after one semester)?
Although you can change colleges after one semester, you should avoid it. While most colleges require you to complete at least one year before applying for a transfer, some schools allow mid-year transfers. However, you need to earn the specified number of credit hours. Also, all colleges consider students’ grades when reviewing applications, so it’s important to maintain a high GPA.
Financial Considerations for Transfer Students
Between tuition fees and the cost of moving to a new city, transferring colleges can be expensive. Check with the financial aid office if there are any fee waivers or scholarships at your new school.
Please note that your financial aid does not transfer when you change schools. FAFSA-based financial aid remains tied to a specific school, so if you’re transferring, you’ll have to resubmit your FAFSA forms to receive federal grants. If you’re transferring mid-year or mid-semester, your new school may ask for the entire tuition fee. Therefore, talk to the admissions counselor to plan out your move, or you may end up with more debt.
Are There Any Prerequisites You Should Be Aware of?
Transfer applications, just like new applications, require students to submit a list of documents. However, colleges want to know whether you meet their transfer criteria (credit hours, grade scores, etc.) before administering a decision. Therefore, you need to have the following documents ready before applying:
- High-school transcript
- The current college transcript
- Letter of recommendation
- Application Essays
- Standardized test scores like SAT or ACT (optional)
Note: Many universities do not ask for test scores or waive the SAT requirements if you’ve completed at least two years of college. Your new school may also ask for a ‘college report’ and a ‘mid-year report.’ College reports show that you’re in good standing at your current school, while mid-year reports consist of your semester grade projects.
Always check if there are any other specific prerequisites that the school expects from transfer applicants besides the general requirements.
What Are the Steps for Transferring to a College?
Once you’re 100% confident that you want to transfer, you can begin the transfer process by following the steps below:
Step 1: Make a List of Your Target Colleges
While this step may seem pretty straightforward, it’s also the most important. Simply applying to schools you’re familiar with may not justify the effort and expense. Do your research to make sure the program is worth it. You can also visit the school campus and meet current students and admissions officers to learn more about the school.
Step 2: Check for Credit Transfers
After vetting your target schools, you’ll need to determine how many of your existing credits will transfer. Some schools do not accept transfer credit hours at all. In such cases, you’ll have to start all over again from year one. While it’s not uncommon for students to repeat their freshman year at their target institution, repeating means spending more time and money on your education.
Step 3: Plan Your Finances
Whether you’ve saved money for college or want to apply for financial aid, it’s always a good idea to plan around how you will pay for tuition. Check with the financial aid department at your prospective school to learn about the grants and waivers offered to transfer students.
Always remember to fill out your FAFSA every year. You can also meet with your advisor for more insight and information on your reward package.
Step 4: Keep Your Documents Handy
Create a list of all the documents you’ll need, such as transcripts, test scores, etc. Ensure that the supporting documents are ready before you begin the admissions process. Contact your current college well in advance if you need anything from them.
Step 5: Work on Your Application
Since the number of seats is lower for transfer students, your application must stand out. Write an excellent application essay, and ask for help if necessary. While writing an essay for your transfer school, emphasize why you’re transferring and what you seek to achieve from a degree at that particular school.
Ask your professor, employer, or internship supervisor to write a strong letter of recommendation that shows your personality, achievements, and how you’ll be a good fit at the institution.
Step 6: Apply
Visit the admissions portal of the transfer college/university and ensure that you fill out all the details correctly in your application. Submit the supporting documents, essays, and letters and wait for the results.
Pro tip: Do not wait till the last date of application to avoid last-minute hassles.
Step 7: Secure Admission
Once you receive your admission confirmation, pay your tuition fee and get ready for your new experience. Submit any additional forms that the college requires. If you’re moving to a new city, search for nearby accommodation, internships, and student body activities for an optimal experience.
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Are There Any Risks in Transferring Colleges?
Of course, the decision to transfer colleges comes with certain risks. But if you’re well-prepared and have your head in the right place, you can tackle any challenges that come your way. Some of the potential risks for a transfer student include:
Financial Considerations: Students transferring mid-semester generally do not receive any refund on the tuition they’ve paid earlier. Plus, your financial grants might not transfer, so you’ll have to apply again. You may also have to shell out extra money for the application fee.
Risk of Credit Transfer: All the credits from your existing degree might not transfer to your new college, meaning you’ll have to start all over again or repeat the courses you’ve completed already. If your college does not accept transfer credits, you’ll have to spend more time in school before graduation.
Emotional Risks: Starting over at a new place can be emotionally challenging, especially if you’ve moved to a new city. You can find it difficult to interact with new classmates, professors, and academic staff. Therefore, you’ll need to prepare yourself mentally for change.
Here’s some helpful information that can help you learn how to succeed in college.
So How Hard is it to Transfer Colleges?
Changing colleges is just as difficult as applying for a first-time admission. However, since the transfer process is different, you face other challenges. Your high-school grades won’t matter as much as your college grades. On top of maintaining an excellent academic record, you’ll have to check the number of available seats, the number of applicants, and the acceptance rate.
If you really want to change schools, you’ll find a way to do so. Vacancies always arise and it’s not too difficult to find colleges that offer your desired specialization with reasonable transfer acceptance rates.
That said, you’ll have to work just as hard as a fresh applicant, only this time your existing college grades can help add more value to your application. That’s why it’s especially important for transfer students to focus on their current degrees to improve their admission prospects.
What Do Universities Look for in a Transfer Student?
Most schools consider your current grades, GPA, essays, and letters of recommendation. Therefore, you must clearly outline your intent for transferring colleges in your application essay/statement of purpose. In some cases, colleges may look at your previous academic record and SAT scores.
Transferring colleges can be a tedious process. However, if you are confident that moving to a new college will be beneficial to your career, you should follow your gut. Planning your transfer well in advance can help ensure a smoother transition.
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When Is the Best Time to Transfer Colleges?
If you want to transfer your college, you might be required to complete your semester. Ideally, you should spend at least one year at your current institution to ensure that all your credits transfer to the new institution and that you do not have to pay tuition fees twice for your course.
How Hard Is It to Get into College as a Transfer Student?
Getting into college as a transfer student can be as hard as applying for the first time. While many colleges offer excellent opportunities for transfer students, the number of vacancies can differ in each institute. Therefore, you must build an exceptional application and maintain good grades to improve your transfer prospects.
Is It Hard to Transfer Colleges Mid-year?
Most colleges require you to spend at least one year in your current degree to become eligible for transfer. You can also transfer mid-year and change colleges after one semester, though you may not receive a refund on your tuition fee, and some of your credits might not transfer.
Will My College Credits Transfer?
The policy for credit transfer varies across institutions. Some schools may accept all your credits, while others may not transfer anything. Colleges may also have a grade point requirement where they will only consider your transfer if you’ve scored a minimum of C grade. Talk with the admissions officer to learn more about transferring credits at your new school.
The Common App Transfer essay
“The personal statement helps colleges get to know you better as a person and a student. Please provide a statement discussing your educational path. How does continuing your education at a new institution help you achieve your future goals?”
- Be mindful of deadlines. ...
- Collect all necessary documents and transcripts. ...
- Write a stellar application essay. ...
- Review all requirements. ...
- Connect with your admissions counselor.
Is It Harder to Get Into College As a Transfer Student? At most highly selective universities, the transfer admission rate is lower than the overall admission rate for high school applicants. There are, however, exceptions.What do colleges look for when transferring? ›
Transfer students are evaluated on the basis of the GPA earned and the college work they have completed. If a student is right on the edge between being accepted or not, then in that case Letters of Recommendation may make an impact in the decision process.What should I write my college essay about as a transfer student? ›
Transfer essays are different than the original application essay you wrote to be accepted in the first place; transfer essays are more focused on: 1) how you have grown from your time at your current university and 2) your specific goals for your future at your new university.Should I reuse my Common App essay for transfer? ›
Transfer applicants must write powerful essays to get into the colleges of their choice. They should NOT reuse high school college applications essays because the prompts differ and colleges are looking for different qualities.What makes a strong transfer applicant? ›
Learn more about the school that has accepted you and try to identify things you like, opportunities you will pursue, and faculty you can learn from. Not only will a positive attitude reduce your misery-index during your first term, but motivated engagement will enhance your candidacy as a transfer applicant!What GPA is good enough to transfer? ›
Common application colleges tend to have higher transfer requirements, with some requiring a 2.5 to 3.0 GPA to transfer, with some program-specific requirements being even higher.What colleges accept most transfer students? ›
|School||Transfer Acceptance Rate||Number of Transfer Students Admitted|
|University of North Texas||81%||5,874|
|Texas State University||87%||4,916|
|University of Texas at Arlington||69%||4,199|
The average GPA of admitted transfer students is a 3.4.
Transfer Academic Factors
Unless you are transferring within a public college system, the GPA you graduate with will be calculated based on your grades at your new college. Each college or college system has its own credit transfer policy. This policy affects the credits they will accept from your previous college.
Consider the timing of your transfer.
The best time to transfer is the end of sophomore year/start of junior year. Why? If you try transferring during freshman year, the only real grades you have will be from high school, and those senior-year grades will matter—a lot.
What do transfer students enjoy most about your college/university? How are transfer students made to feel a part of your college/university community? What are the strengths of the college/university as they relate to transfer student success? As a transfer student, what challenges may I experience?Does your GPA follow you when you transfer colleges? ›
Your GPA Doesn't Transfer With You
When you are accepted to a new school, your GPA is essentially wiped clean, and your new GPA will be determined by your level of success in your classes at the new institution. But all is not lost. Your academic history is recorded on your official transcript at the school.
Admissions wants to know how you've grown, not how much you disliked your current school. “Don't trash-talk your old university, or sound bitter about your experiences there,” encourages Carnegie Mellon.How do you make a strong transfer application? ›
- Finish general education requirements. ...
- Earn high grades. ...
- Befriend your professors. ...
- Take advantage of your school. ...
- Enjoy the extracurricular activities and opportunities that are offered. ...
- Find a job.
- Explain why you want to transfer, what you need that you are not getting at your current school, and why you chose your current school to begin with.
- Always present things in a positive light.
- Share how the transfer school will help you achieve your goals and why you are a good fit for the school.
For example, some schools do not require a transfer student essay, but you have the option of sending one anyway. The Common App asks you to answer the following question in 250-650 words: “Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.”Can colleges see other colleges essays? ›
Do colleges know if you use the same essay? Colleges do not have a way to determine whether you submit the same essay to multiple colleges. This is because admissions officers are too busy reading their own schools' applications to compare the essays with other schools.Can you use the same personal statement for transfer? ›
Your personal statement should properly reflect you as a student and the course that you are applying for so you should change it if you are transferring universities.
Consider factors important to you, such as transfer credit, cost, campus environment, academic programs and student life, Helmbolt says.What makes a transfer application stand out? ›
There are two main things that you want to highlight in a transfer admissions essay. Firstly, why your prospective transfer school is a perfect fit for you. Secondly, what unique attributes and talents you will bring to campus. Share with your prospective new academic home what makes them attractive and unique.Which GPA matters the most? ›
In general, admissions officers want to see more As than Bs, so having an unweighted GPA of above 3.5 can make a big difference.Can I restart my college GPA? ›
A student's GPA starts over in the first semester at his or her new school. So, in other words, the GPA starts over each time the student transfers to a new college or university. In some instances, the GPA may start over again at the same school if a Fresh Start Policy is available and applicable.What is a good community college GPA to transfer? ›
The average GPA of admitted transfer students is above 3.5 and admitted students have completed most or all major preparatory courses. We give highest priority to applicants from California community colleges and other UC campuses.
Community college students who transfer to selective institutions have equal to higher graduation rates as students who enrolled directly from high school or those who transferred from other four-year institutions.What are the chances of getting into college as a transfer student? ›
According to NACAC's 2019 State of College Admission report, the average admit rate for transfer students was 61% compared to 66% for freshmen. This means your grades will play an even more important role in the viability of your transfer application than they did the last time you applied.Is getting into college as a transfer easier? ›
Is Transferring Easier Than Getting In as a First-Year Student? At some schools, transfer students have a better statistical shot at getting accepted than first-year applicants, with chances of acceptance sometimes doubled or even tripled. This holds true at many highly selective colleges, especially public schools.What college has the highest transfer acceptance rate? ›
Some of the best top colleges to transfer to include the University of Notre Dame, UCLA, UC Berkeley, WashU, and Vanderbilt University. These schools have the highest transfer acceptance rates among the nation's top colleges.What college GPA do I need to transfer? ›
Transfer applicants from regionally accredited colleges and universities must have at least a cumulative 2.25 grade-point average on a 4.00 scale (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0). Several colleges and programs within the university, however, require higher grade point averages on all college work attempted.
Calculation of Transfer Admissions GPA
The transfer admissions GPA is calculated by dividing the grade points earned in all coursework by the cumulative graded (A-F) credit hours.
While a semester GPA can provide insight into a student's performance during a specific period of time, the cumulative GPA provides a broader view of their overall academic performance throughout their entire academic career.Should you include high school activities on transfer application? ›
You should focus primarily on post-high school activities. You should be as accurate as possible. The information submitted is subject to verification, and if you are unable to provide proof of the information provided, your application will be cancelled.How do I get back into college with a low GPA? ›
- Explain the Circumstances Behind Your Low GPA. ...
- Improve Your SAT/ACT Scores. ...
- Write an Exemplary Essay. ...
- Get Strong Recommendation Letters. ...
- Showcase Your Non-academic Skills and Talents. ...
- Consider an Online College. ...
- Join a Community College.
Students can typically begin the transfer process anytime they like, including during their first year of college. Data from the NSC Research Center indicates that most students transfer colleges in their second year.Is transferring harder than first year? ›
#1 – It's easier to get admitted to a college as a transfer student than it is as a freshman. Colleges lose students every year so they need to fill those spots or they are losing expenses that are budgeted for.Should I apply as transfer or first year? ›
Students who have taken college coursework that is counting towards their high school graduation should apply as first-year applicants. This includes students pursuing an associate's degree while finishing high school.Do transfer Students have to write an essay? ›
Students may transfer for a variety of reasons ranging from academics to athletics to geography. If you are in the process of transferring colleges it's likely that you will have to write a personal essay as part of your transfer admissions process. Ultimately, there's no one way to write a college transfer essay.Is there a Common App for transfer Students? ›
Common App for transfer is an online application that makes applying to college faster and easier. Through a single platform, you'll be able to search for and apply to any one of the more than 600 colleges that accept Common App for transfer.Where is the personal essay for Common App transfer? ›
Option #1 , Questions Section
Must appear within the Writing section. Radio button prompt selection followed by long answer essay field. Prompts appear directly above the response box. Choice of prompt is a deliverable data point in the export file.
Write only one essay (plus any supplements).
You'll submit one essay through the Common Application for all your schools. Some colleges may ask you to also answer a few supplemental questions.
Essay length: Minimum of three paragraphs; 500-750 words. Paragraph 1: State the purpose of writing, which is applying for transfer to the specific institution's specific department and why. Summarize career goals, perhaps including a forecast of where you see yourself being in five or ten years.What college has the most transfer students? ›
|National University||La Jolla, CA||3,300|
|California State Polytechnic University--Pomona||Pomona, CA||3,274|
|Texas State University||San Marcos, TX||3,112|
|Eastern Illinois University||Charleston, IL||2,871|
Even if you're transferring colleges your first or second year, reaching out to classmates is a great way to make friends because, if nothing else, you already know you have something in common: You're both in the same class! Bonding with others through common ground is an easy way to make connections.Can I copy and paste my essay on the Common App? ›
For the Common Application, there is no need to attach a document since there is a dedicated input field. You still want to write your essay in a word processor or Google doc. Just make sure once you copy-paste your essay into the text box that your line breaks (paragraphs), indents, and formatting is retained.How many words is the Common App transfer essay? ›
The Common App essay word count range is 250-650 words. But just how long should your statement be? Admissions Blog advises aiming for around 500 words. And former Tufts University admissions officer Becky Leichtling concurs.Does your Common App essay need to have a title? ›
You don't need a title for your college admissions essay, but you can include one if you think it adds something important.