Inside My Transfer Experience: The Steps I Took to Succeed as a Transfer Student

Student, St. Thomas Aquinas College

Nicole Lynch transferred from a community college to a four-year school . . . twice. And she learned a lot along the way. So whether you’re transferring from a two-year school to a four-year or from one four-year to another, you’ll learn a lot from her experience too.

When I think back on my transfer, I feel a huge sense of relief. It’s a big contrast to how I felt when I first left my community college. I was confused and had absolutely no idea where I was going to go. So I did what many college students do. I did some “research,” found a four-year school, and applied. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but I eventually realized my mistake: I applied to the school without really getting to know it, its admission counselors, or my major options. I felt stuck in the middle of trying to figure out where I was going.

It quickly became clear I wasn’t comfortable on my new college campus, and taking action was the only way to get a fresh start. I decided to drop all my classes immediately. I went back to my local community college and finished my associate degree, but I still wanted a bachelor’s. Obviously I needed some help, but whom would I talk to? It was at a college fair that I met people who helped me so much with the transfer process. From there I found a school I love and had a successful transfer.

Here are my top tips for other future transfer students, based on what I learned along the way!

Attend college fairs

Attending a college fair was something I had never done before. That’s where I met with a few transfer coordinators from different colleges who reviewed my transcript, classes, and academic standing.

College fairs are important. You can meet different transfer counselors and speak to them regarding academic programs. This is the only way you can easily network with as many colleges that come to visit your campus. Ask them questions about the different majors they offer and special programs you may be interested in. To make the process easier, have an unofficial transcript ready on the spot. A transfer coordinator will be more than delighted to help review your class credits and give you advice on what classes you should take. This will make your transfer process as simple as possible. Attending college fairs is what helped me make the right choice. We all have to make a definitive college decision; if you skip the college fair step, it will be more difficult for you to know exactly what other steps to take or what college is right for you.

Meet with a transfer coordinator

If you have one or two colleges at the top of your transfer list, be sure to make an appointment with a transfer coordinator at those schools. As I mentioned, you should be able to speak to one during a college fair, but with many other students there, it may be difficult to get all of your questions answered. An individual meeting will give you time to speak with them at length.

Meeting with transfer coordinators one-on-one helped me understand how transfer credits worked. My transfer coordinator evaluated my transcript and explained how many more classes I would need to take to graduate. She also helped me with my transfer application on the spot, and we kept in constant contact through the very end of my transfer process.

You should know how many credits are being transferred over to your new college. You want to make sure all your credits are accounted for and no mistakes are made. Lost credits equate to more time and money taking additional classes. Whatever your case may be, don’t lose contact with your transfer coordinator. They will explain all the requirements, provide assistance, and ensure you register for the appropriate classes. Follow their advice and you will be off to a great start!

Visit the campus

Whether you plan to commute or stay in a dorm, visiting your potential new school in person is important. You’ll get an idea of what the campus is really like. Your tour guide will often be a student, so you should get some great insight and advice from them. Ask them questions! When I took a tour of the college I attend now, I knew it was the right choice for me. Taking a tour will also help you later on when you’re struggling to find your classes. You will know the campus better than you would if you skipped this major step.

Go to transfer orientation day

Skipping transfer orientation is a mistake. It’s the last important step in the process. This is where you get to meet other students from different colleges, register (if you haven’t already), and hand in forms on time before your first day of classes. You will learn basically everything you need to know on this day. Although I was nervous about attending my orientation, the students were very welcoming and helpful throughout the entire day. Afterwards I felt much more confident, prepared, and positive about my decision to attend my new school.

For me, the pieces began to fall into place when I started to take the necessary steps to succeed at what most complain is a “complicated” process. Many students are in a rush to leave community college and start somewhere else. I had been advised to finish my associate degree first before moving on, and that’s what I did.

Your success is entirely up to you, whatever your definition of “success” is. Taking responsibility for your transfer experience actually helps simplify the process. I try to remind students who are going through it to speak with a transfer advisor before making any drastic decisions on their own. All the mistakes I made two years ago reflected where I was at the time: on a campus where I had no idea who my advisor was, with only 22 credits that had transferred over. If I had stayed at that first four-year college, it would have taken me another three or four years to graduate. After a few setbacks, the transfer experience finally became a smooth process. I learned from my mistakes and am thriving on a campus where I feel I belong.

Top do’s and don’ts of the transfer process

  • Don’t apply to a college without doing your research first.
  • Do get help from someone who knows about the process and your academic standing (for example, your advisor, student counselor, etc.)
  • Don’t skip out on important meetings with your transfer advisor, transfer orientation, or campus tours.
  • Do make sure you’re aware of all application requirements such as recommendations, essays, SAT scores, GPA minimums, and interviews.
  • Don’t ignore the requirements needed when filling out a transfer application.
  • Do make sure you’ve filled out any necessary financial aid documents.
  • Don’t fall behind on your transfer deadlines, current school work, or other responsibilities. They will snowball!
  • Do make sure you’re responsible with paperwork, registration dates, payments, and other things that may be asked of you before finishing your transfer process.

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