The Pros and Cons of Transferring

If you are interested in transferring to another college or university, there are several pros and cons to consider before taking the leap.

Is my current school providing me with everything I want out of my college years? Can I afford to attend here? Are the support services what I need to succeed? Is this school the right fit for me?

These are some of the questions students ask themselves when considering if transferring colleges is the best option for them.

And if you are thinking of transferring, you’re in good company. According to a 2015 National Student Clearinghouse report on transfer and mobility, of 3.6 million students who began their postsecondary education in the fall of 2008, more than one-third (37.2%) transferred at least once within six years. In fact, 45% changed their institution more than once, highlighting the increasing trend of more students transferring schools while in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

If you are interested in transferring to another college or university, there are several pros and cons to consider before taking the leap.

Pro: Going to a college that fits you better

Since you have made the transition from high school to college already, you have learned more about yourself and have experienced firsthand what you like and dislike about the college experience. Maybe your current college is too big or too small. Maybe there isn’t enough diversity on campus. Maybe you have decided to change majors and the school doesn’t offer what you now want to study. Or maybe you’re just homesick. In any case, transferring can offer you an opportunity to make the next school the right fit for exactly what you want.

Con: Credits that might be lost or not transfer at all

One of the most popular questions students ask is, “Will my credits transfer?” Sometimes, all of their credits transfer from one school to another—but often, they do not. How each college applies transfer credit upon admission is incredibly varied. For example, some classes might technically count for credit but not fulfill any of your specific degree requirements. This makes the transfer process tricky.

To avoid being disappointed in the long run, ask your transfer advisor or admission counselor questions about whether or not your credits will transfer. Be proactive from the start and contact the school(s) you are considering and make sure you are taking transferrable classes and also finding out what grades you need to have in order for the classes to transfer.

If you’re coming from a two-year college, check to see if there are any established partnership or articulation agreements between the two-year and four-year schools you are interested in. This might help streamline the process of transferring credits as well. The sooner you research a school’s credit policy, the better off you will be when it comes time to transfer. It can make all the difference in saving you time and money in the long run.

Pro: Studying at your first-choice college

Maybe you were not academically ready to get into the school of your dreams straight out of high school, or your test scores were not quite high enough for your top-choice college. Well, transferring gives you a second chance of getting into your first-choice school. Just keep in mind that you need to put the work in prior to getting there.

Do well in the right classes and participate in extracurricular and community activities. These things will help you get into your preferred school, save you time and money, and help you be more adaptable when you decide to transfer schools. Putting your best foot forward from the start will benefit you when transitioning to the next school.

Con: Leaving behind people and places

One of the key difficulties of moving—even if you’re not going very far—is leaving behind friends and places you have grown fond of. But it is a reality of life that we all face at some point. Planning visits will help continue friendships, but relationships will naturally change or become strained by the distance. Strong friendships will last, while others may not. When deciding to transfer, consider the positive experiences and personal and intellectual growth to move toward your own personal and academic success.

Pro: Saving money

Whether you have decided to transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution or from one four-year institution to another, transferring can save you money while helping you meet your other college needs. Many schools also offer transfer scholarships and/or specific institutional scholarships that transfer students may be eligible to receive. For example, some colleges offer specific scholarships for students who are registered members of Phi Theta Kappa, a national two-year college honor society.

Another factor to consider is overall financial aid. The financial aid package from one college to another might change depending on the type of school and how they award institutional aid. Similarly, attending a college closer to home might save you room and board expenses that you were paying at your previous school if you decide to commute.

Con: Being the “new kid” again

It’s not easy being a new student on campus. You might not know anyone. You could be placed with a random roommate. You will not be able to relate to the “remember freshman year” stories when hanging out with students who came in before you. This is always a challenge for transfers, which is why it’s important to think of transferring as a fresh start.

Get involved with clubs and organizations on campus. Connect with other transfer students during orientation and/or transfer-specific events hosted at the school. Enroll in community service projects to expand your horizons. Join a study group. All of these options will help you establish new friendships and connections to your transfer college that you may not experience otherwise.

Pro: Personal growth

At college you have already taken on the challenge of exploring new and exciting avenues and making new friends. Perhaps you even moved somewhere different, which forced you to live outside of your comfort zone and adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and people. Transferring schools will help you grow into a more independent person because you are repeating the process of pushing yourself intellectually and socially. When you become less fearful of taking risks or challenging yourself, you become more independent. You can’t help but gain maturity and crucial insights.

Con: Culture shock

Every college has it’s own culture. What is fun or popular at one school might be considered boring or rare at another school. You should consider what a school’s culture might be like when transferring. For example, city colleges will have access to many more nightlife activities for students such as restaurants and shows, while a rural college may not. Ask yourself what is important to you and why you want to transfer. The decision is different for everyone; only you know what is best for you.

Final thoughts

Transferring colleges is a huge decision and one that should not be taken lightly. In fact, in many ways, it is a bigger decision than when you picked your “first” school. But with the proper research, preparation, and consideration of the pros and cons, transferring could be the right decision for you and could set you up for future success.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Amari Toussaint

Amari Toussaint

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me narrow my school choices down from 10 schools to four and then two. It also gave me information on a school I had never heard about or thought about attending until now, which is the school I will be attending in the fall. I am thankful for CollegeXpress and its helpful tools.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress really helped me by letting me know the colleges ratings and placements. They gave me accurate information on my colleges tuition rates and acceptance. They even let me know the ration between students and faculty and the diversity of the college. Overall they told me everything I needed and things I didnt even think I needed to know about my college and other colleges I applied for.

Nikole Dixon

Nikole Dixon

$500 Refer-a-Friend Scholarship Winner

Toward the beginning of last year, I was searching for scholarships to apply to through my school, town, websites online, and anything else I could find. I asked tons of questions [online] about scholarships and the best places to find them because I was desperate and needed as many as I could find. I came across a ton of bogus websites, but as soon as I found CollegeXpress, I knew I had to tell other people about it. It was definitely the most helpful site I came across, so I told my friends about it. CollegeXpress is definitely a website worth giving as a source.

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

High School Class of 2022

I wanted a school that wasn't too far away from home and could provide me with a full-ride scholarship. CollegeXpress helped me put into perspective the money I had to pay to attend those schools, which ultimately drove me to choose to attend a community college first to get used to being in college before transferring to the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, one of the colleges I was able to research further on CollegeXpress.

Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace

High School Class of 2019

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is that it features student writers so I get an inside perspective from students slightly older and farther along than me. I realize that other college websites also utilize student writers; however, I relate the most to the college writers that I read articles from on CollegeXpress.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Fordham University

Bronx, NY