Dr. Deb Geller, EdD
Former Dean, University of California, Los Angeles
In order to get good letters of recommendation for your transfer applications, you need to develop relationships with faculty or administrators. For faculty, I recommend going to office hours regularly in a class in which you are doing well, and not just asking about the lecture or reading but also about the professor’s research interests. Let them know you enjoy the class and why you took it. For administrators, think about the campus activities in which you are involved. Are you in a club? Make an appointment with the club’s advisor. Do you live in the residence halls? Meet with your hall director. Do you have a campus job? Get to know your department head. Do none of these sound like you? Make an appointment with your Dean of Students. As a former Associate Dean of Students, I regularly met with students who knew they would need letters of recommendation in the future. We’d meet to talk about their background, career goals, academic interests, and campus involvement. Then when it was time for the letters, I knew enough about them to write a good one.
If you’ve been a college student for less than a year, you may want to ask your old high school teachers if they would be willing to resubmit their original letters of recommendations from your senior year. This should work out okay if you are transferring to another college as a freshman. However, if you are transferring as a sophomore or junior to your new college, it would be beneficial to get to know some of your current professors if at all possible (start by going to office hours). If you are in large lecture classes, try talking to your TAs. It’s also a good idea to find out if the college you want to transfer to even requires recommendations for transfer students. Some colleges will simply consider your grades for admittance.
Charlotte M. Klaar, PhD
Klaar College Consulting LLC
This may sound odd to ask, but why are you transferring after a short time? You should remain in one college for at least a year before considering a transfer. This shows the receiving college that you gave it your best shot, that you tried to be involved in campus activities, and that you were able to excel academically in the environment. If you need to transfer due to financial or family concerns, then your advisor should be able to write a letter of recommendation for you.
Find all the answers to your questions about transferring colleges in our Ask the Experts—Transfer Students section.