Originally Posted: Jun 20, 2011
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017
If you’re thinking about transferring, there are probably a million questions running through your head.
The process can appear complicated. Colleges often give the impression that you should know what you are doing since you have gone through the application process before. But each school may have slightly different transfer procedures with varying requirements. Here are some answers to common questions you may have on your mind, along with tips for navigating your transfer.
Should you transfer?
The answer to this depends on a lot of different factors. First, what type of institution are you currently attending? If you are at a two-year college, you will need to make the move to get your bachelor’s degree. Or, you might be at a four-year college where factors in changing institutions could depend on your major, location, class size, or cost. The most important question you can ask yourself is “why?” Whether you need a new scene or you’re trying to find a major that your current school doesn’t offer, really examine your motives to make certain that a transfer will help solve your problems.
How do you decide where to transfer?
Don’t panic! You’ve gone through this process once before, so you already know a lot, including what characteristics of a college or university are important to you. Think about which aspects of your current institution bother you and which aspects you like.
You can start by searching websites like www.insidecollege.com to find schools that might be of interest to you. Check to see if any schools offer articulation agreements or cross-registration agreements with your current college. Talk to friends at other schools, counselors, and alumni. Be thorough in your research.
Once you’ve gathered some information, make a list of all potential new schools. Think about important facts about each of the colleges, such as majors, scholarships, cost, and housing options. You can find out a great deal about most colleges by searching their websites. Make a comprehensive list of the questions and concerns you have about each school.
When you’ve compiled your research, take this information and your list of questions and visit the campus! The visit is one of the most important steps you can take as a transfer student. Check out the personality and feel of a college to make sure it will be a good fit. Visit with a transfer admission counselor who can answer most of your questions, and don’t forget to ask about scholarships specifically for transfer students. However, don’t rule out a college based on price alone. There are many scholarships available to transfer students, especially those involved in Phi Theta Kappa. Once you have a feel for the campus and your list of questions answered, you can start to narrow down your list. Stick to your priorities and the decision should come easily. Once you’re certain, you can start filling out applications!
Will I need to send my transcripts along with my application?
Yes, most colleges will ask you to send not just your most recent transcript, but official transcripts from all colleges you’ve attended before they review your file. Also, at some institutions you will be required to submit your high school transcript and standardized tests (usually if you have less than one or two years of college courses). If this is the case, your admission counselor will consider not only your college transcript, but also review the courses and grades received in your high school classes.
How do I know what classes will transfer?
Credits earned at a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of C or better that are similar to credits offered at the college you plan to attend will usually transfer. Many universities offer unofficial evaluations of credits through the admission office, if requested. Some colleges also list the credit transfers of local community colleges on their website, so you can determine what classes will transfer.
When you visit campus, bring your transcript along with you. Admission counselors will be able to give you an estimate of which classes will make the cut. Consider keeping the syllabi for the classes you took so administrators can get a clear picture of what each class entailed. Don’t forget to consider the actual course requirements you need to graduate too, not just credits. You might be able to transfer Archaeology 101 to your new university, but when you’re planning to major in chemistry, the class won’t help. Check requirements to determine just how long it will take you to earn that degree.
If you are planning to stay in state, there are websites like NJ Transfer (www.njtransfer.org) and NH Transfer (www.nhtransfer.org) that will help you sort out which credits will transfer. By working with a transfer counselor and being smart about which courses you take, you should have no serious issues transferring classes.
Will my financial aid transfer?
Financial aid does not transfer exactly from college to college. Though your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) may be the same, you might not receive the same financial aid because different colleges have different ways of calculating aid. You may, however, qualify for transfer merit scholarships. Transfer students may also be eligible for federal or state grants, work-study, or loans based on financial need. All colleges will ask you to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and some will ask you to fill out the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
The FAFSA can be found online at fafsa.ed.gov and should be filed as soon after October 1 (the prior year) as possible. The PROFLIE can be found at collegeboard.com. Make sure you provide all of the information requested by the college so that you can hear back in a timely manner. Spring students will have likely filled out the form for the previous academic year and will just need to go back into the FAFSA and add the colleges they are considering. It’s also important to note that the FAFSA application is free, so if you find yourself being asked to pay, check the website address.
I received my acceptance letter—how do I enroll?
Once you have made a decision on where to transfer and have turned in all of your final transcripts, you will be eligible to enroll. Work with the admission office, advising center, or your individual advisor to set up an appointment. During your appointment, you should not only enroll for the next semester, but talk through your transfer evaluation and ask any questions that may have been left unanswered through this process.
How will I meet other transfer students?
Many schools will have an orientation specifically for transfer students, during which time you can pick up your student ID, parking pass, and textbooks; finish financial aid forms; and turn in your housing paperwork and immunization records. Most schools will host many events during the first few weeks of school. Join a club or organization to build a network of friends with common interests. You may also meet friends prior to starting school through social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. You could find out where students on your campus hangout using Twitter or Gowalla. If you choose to live on campus, you may meet new friends in the dorms or dining hall. If living on your own, find other students who may commute and see if you can get together for lunch or find a time to study together. Attend sporting and performing arts events to meet new people and enjoy all the talent hiding out on your own campus. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! How else are you going to get to know new people?
Transferring can be difficult, but not impossible. Get all the facts so you can make the best decision for you. In the end, no matter why you decide to transfer, start as early as possible and plan ahead.
Most importantly, relax. More students are transferring from college to college each year so you’re not alone. Get to know your admission counselor along the way and let them be your guide. Soon enough, you’ll be advising the newest class of transfers on which professors they should take and where to find the library.
Working with Your Transfer Counselor
- Meet with a transfer counselor at the very beginning of your college experience to organize your courses and timeline. The key to a successful transfer is careful planning and early action!
- Work with your counselor to narrow down a list of target schools that will be right for you.
- Before you decide on the school, call or visit the admission office and ask a counselor questions about everything you want to know—transferring course work, student life, academics, extracurricular activities, etc.
- After you’ve been accepted, work with your counselor to address any issues or concerns with your transcripts or classes.
- When you get to your new school, your work with your transfer counselor is usually complete. But they can still be a resource if you have a question you just don’t know how else to answer.