8 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Transfer Student

November 15, 2021
By AdmissionSight

8 Things You Need to Consider Before Becoming a Transfer Student

Sometimes, a college simply doesn’t work out for incoming students. No matter how much research you did, how many college visits you went on, and how many personality tests you took, there are instances when the school you choose isn’t a good fit. Whether you’re in your sophomore year looking to make a change or only halfway through your freshman year ready to take immediate action, the college transfer process can be quite intimidating. Between college transfer deadlines, specific application requirements, and adjusting to a new school, there are a lot of things on your plate when making this transition. What’s surprising to many transfer students is that the transfer process is often more competitive than the standard college admissions process.

Students working on something in a bench.

It’s certainly not impossible, and it’s definitely worth it in the end. However, as is the case with college applications, it’s important to get started as soon as possible when transferring to colleges. The last thing you want is to be stuck at the school which you’re not happy at because you missed something simple such as the transfer application deadlines or a transfer application requirement.

But timing isn’t all you have to worry about. The point of kick-starting the process as early as possible is to give yourself ample time to make sure you want to transfer, know where you’re going to transfer to, and understand how to make that happen. And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover here!

At AdmissionSight, we’re committed to helping you succeed in college. An important part of that from many students is transferring colleges. After all, you deserve to attend a university or college where you feel happy, content, and encouraged.

Just because you don’t find that the first time around doesn’t mean you have to stay miserable where you are. Transferring colleges is actually quite common. So let’s find out how you can do it successfully.

Understand the importance of transferring colleges.

The first thing to note about transferring colleges is that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not only is the process more involved than many students assume, but it also has a larger impact on your overall college trajectory than it might seem at first.

Before you actually decide to transfer colleges and set the process in motion, you need to seriously consider the choice and make sure it’s the right decision for you based on your current circumstances and where you want to be in the future both academically and professionally.

The college or colleges which you attend to achieve your degree will have an impact on your future academic career and in your professional career as well. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that your decision to transfer colleges is rooted in sound decision-making instead of temporary feelings.

This is not intended to scare students away from transferring. In fact, it will be a necessary decision for me. Instead, the point is to illustrate the weight that transfer and colleges can carry and you encourage students to treat the choice with care.

Conduct a lot of research.

Thought you were done with researching colleges after sending in your initial application? If you’re looking into transferring colleges, think again! Google is about to become your best friend.

When preparing to transfer schools, there are two primary things you need to research: the specifics of the transfer admissions process and the colleges you might apply to. It’s hard to overstate the importance of conducting sufficient research during this time.

Young woman researching on her laptop while writing.

When done properly, research will provide you with a better understanding of what’s required to successfully transfer to a school you prefer. At the same time, this research will also help you identify the best colleges and universities that match what you’re looking for.

Transferring schools might feel like you’re behind but in reality, having experience and a college puts you at an advantage. You’ve had sufficient opportunity to identify things about a college that you like and dislike. You should apply this knowledge when researching potential universities or colleges you can transfer to.

Research is also critical to help you decide whether or not transferring is the best option for you right now. Don’t just research new institutions – do fresh research on your current school. Are there opportunities you’ve missed? Classes you didn’t know were offered? Study abroad opportunities you haven’t explored?

You need to be 100% sure you want to transfer before applying to new schools, so make sure you’ve explored every opportunity on your current campus before moving to a new one

Consider the timing.

Another critical thing to consider when deciding whether or not to transfer is the timing of your transition. During your research, you might realize that now it’s not the most advantageous or ideal time for you to make the switch.

Although most colleges and universities accept transfers multiple times throughout the year, that doesn’t automatically mean you should take the next opportunity right away. For example, if you’re only halfway into your freshman year, transferring colleges might be a band-aid solution to another problem you’re facing.

Finishing your freshman year can add some clarity to the decision, ensuring you make a sound decision. As another example, maybe you have too much on your plate in the form of tasks, homework, and class projects to dedicate the amount of time and energy required to transfer colleges.

Sacrificing the quality of your research could put you back to square one: at a college you don’t like. On the other hand, allowing your grades to suffer at your current school could decrease your chances of getting accepted to your desired college. Many students make the mistake of assuming they need to transfer right away. Before rushing the decision, make sure that the time is right. You’ll thank yourself down the line.

Apply to schools that suit your needs.

Finding a college that fulfills your needs both personally and academically is just as critical – if not more so – during the transfer admissions process as it is during standard admissions. If you’re considering transferring colleges, there’s a good chance you’ve already felt the sting of attending university or college that wasn’t a good match.

In the effort to leave your current school, you don’t want to push yourself into the same situation just at a different place. Besides, although there’s not a set limit on how many times you can transfer colleges, it requires a significant amount of time, energy, and money each time you do it.

For all of these reasons, it’s paramount to ensure that the college to which you’re transferring is a great fit for you. Don’t just rely on the research you did when first applying to school. You’ve changed since then and so have your challenges, needs, desires, and goals. Start looking at potential colleges from a fresh perspective.

Reconsider ones you thought about in the past, reevaluate others you were always sure about, and explore colleges you’ve never considered. This is another highlight of why comprehensive research is so important. Later, we’ll cover some specific tips you can take to help narrow down some excellent potential transfer schools.

Get your grades up to snuff.

Transferring colleges isn’t a guaranteed process. Although there are some important differences, you’re nearly undergoing the college admissions process again. Instead of transitioning from high school to college, you’re jumping from one college to another.

Male student studying in his desk.

Schools treat both application processes quite similarly and judge your eligibility based on a number of factors, including your academic performance. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your grades and test scores are good enough to get into the school to which you’re intending to transfer.

College admissions officers will look at your course load and GPA to gain a better understanding of what kind of student you are and how easily you could succeed at their school. If you have sufficient time, choose courses that offer credits you can transfer to your desired school.

As a transfer student, it can sometimes feel as though you’re playing catch-up when compared to fellow classmates. Keeping your academic performance up and taking transferable courses can help make sure you’re on the right track.

Think about your motivations for transferring.

Beyond looking at your academic performance, colleges will also want to know the motivations behind your transfer. Why are you leaving your current university? What are you looking for? And why will this college fulfill those needs better than your previous school?

You’ll need a solid reason for leaving and a clear explanation of that decision to convince admissions officers that it’s a justified and well-founded choice. It’s important to convey the reason behind your transition throughout your transfer application where appropriate.

Don’t overdo it but don’t undersell yourself either. Your personal statement is an excellent place to go into depth about your reasons for leaving.

Familiarize yourself with transfer requirements.

Contrary to popular belief, transfer applications are actually more involved than standard applications. There are more requirements for transfer applicants at many schools than there are for incoming applications directly from high school. Most colleges will request a mid-term report, dean’s report, letters of recommendation, registrar’s report, and even some documents from your high school.

Keep in mind that it takes time to request and collect these documents. That’s why it’s important to clearly understand the relevant college transfer deadlines so you can turn everything in on time.

Once you’re determined that transferring is the right choice, get started right away on acquiring all of the required documents. Waiting too long could mean staying another semester at the school you’re hoping to leave. Don’t make that mistake!

Understand the full cost of your transfer.

College tuition rates are notoriously high and students are notoriously broke which is an ironic but understandable combination. Ideally, you could switch between colleges without having to worry about the cost, but that’s not realistic. Before making your transfer, it’s important to crunch some numbers to see what the move will cost you overall.

The first cost you need to take into account is the price difference in tuition between the school you’re currently attending and the college to which you hope to transfer. If you end up saving money, that’s great! But if the tuition is higher, make sure you recalculate your school budget to make sure everything lines up correctly.

Students also need to consider how their financial aid and scholarships will get impacted by the transfer. Is the funding you’re currently receiving going to change when you switch schools? Also, are there new financial aid opportunities at your new school which you should apply for? Understanding your financial aid situation after the transfer can help you save thousands of dollars.

Pay attention to college transfer deadlines.

One of the most fundamental considerations for transfer students is college transfer deadlines. These dates mark the final day you have to submit all requirements to set your college transfer in motion. If you miss these college transfer deadlines, you’ll have to wait until the next transfer admissions process to resubmit your materials. Yikes! You don’t want to let that happen.

We highly advise students to determine the college transfer deadlines of the schools to which they’re considering transferring. You should put these dates in your calendar and devise a detailed plan to ensure you have all required documents submitted before the deadline comes around. It’s tough to overstate just how critical it is to adhere to the college transfer deadlines.

How to find success as a transfer student.

Once you’ve considered all you need to before making the transition to another college, there are some steps you can take to ensure your transfer is successful. As a transfer student, you’re going to face unique challenges compared to those of freshman-year students. Here, we’re going to look at some tips for making the most of your transition.

Attend college events.

When you first get to campus, get involved in as many events as possible. Don’t wait too long to engage with other students because the school year always goes quicker than you think, especially if you transferred halfway through the year. If you made the transition at the beginning of the year, there should be plenty of orientation and welcome events for new students.

Transfer students sitting together while talking.

This is the best time to meet fellow transfers, incoming students, and established students on campus. Even making a few connections at the beginning can end up resulting in some lifelong friendships you never would have imagined. Don’t be shy or reserved. Put yourself out there and make the most of this new experience.

Meet with your guidance counselor.

Guidance counselors are an underutilized resource for college students, especially those transferring to a new school. Nobody knows the school better than a committed and seasoned guidance counselor. They’re your number one source of information when it comes to anything and everything happening on campus especially college transfer deadlines.

Whether you want to join a study group, switch classes, attend events, join a club, or anything else, they can help. But they’re not going to reach out to you. The ball is in your court when it comes to taking full advantage of this invaluable resource. We suggest students meet with their guidance counselors regularly to ensure you remain on the right track.

Befriend experienced students.

Guidance counselors might have an expert and official understanding of the school you’re attending, but students have the inside scoop. When you transfer to a new college or university, you’re immediately behind compared to fellow students who have been attending the school for years.

Two students studying in a table for college transfer. Making just a few friends or even acquaintances from this group can give you all of the information you need to know about the inner workings of the school.

Get professional assistance for the college admissions process.

Applying to college is an equally challenging and exciting process especially if you’re a transfer student. Without much guidance or helpful information, high schoolers aren’t sure where to begin when embarking on this important transition. That’s where college admissions experts like AdmissionSight can help!

We’ve been helping students just like you better understand the college admissions process, improve their applications, and increase their chances of getting into schools of their dreams. With the right preparation and guidance, you can greatly simplify the college application process.

At AdmissionSight, we offer a wide range of services designed to help high schoolers improve the most important aspects of their application to catch the attention of college admissions officers.

From academic and extracurricular planning to college interview preparation and college essay assistance, our comprehensive services have a powerful impact on your application overall. If you’re interested in learning more about what we offer and how you can benefit, feel free to contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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