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4 Steps You Can Take to Succeed as a Transfer Student

This transfer student went from a community college to two four-year institutions. So wherever you're transferring from, you can learn a lot from her.

When I think back on my transfer experience, I feel a huge sense of relief. My new school is 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. 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 this school without really getting to know it, its admission counselors, and my major options.

It quickly became clear I wasn’t comfortable on my new campus, and acting was the only way to get the fresh start I was looking for. I dropped all my classes immediately and went back to my local community college to finish my associate degree, but I still wanted a bachelor’s. It was a long process from there to find the school I love and have a successful transfer. So from one student who’s been there, here are my top tips for other future transfer students going through the process.

1. Attend college fairs

College fairs are important. You can meet different transfer counselors in person and get a better idea of what the transfer process looks like at their school. Attending a college fair was something I’d never done before, but that’s where I met with a few transfer coordinators from different colleges who reviewed my transcript, classes, and academic standing. This is a way you can easily network with as many colleges as possible. Ask them questions about the majors they offer and special programs you may be interested in. To make it easier, have an unofficial transcript ready and on hand. A transfer coordinator will be more than delighted to help review your credits and give you advice on what classes you might take in their program. Attending college fairs helped me make the right choice. We all must choose eventually; if you skip the college fair step, it will be more difficult for you to know exactly which college is right for you.

2. Meet with a transfer coordinator

If you have one or two colleges at the top of your transfer list, make appointments with a transfer coordinator at those schools. As I mentioned, you should be able to speak to someone during a college fair, but with many other students there, it may be difficult to get all 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. 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. My coordinator evaluated my transcript and explained how many more credits I would need to graduate. She also helped me with my transfer application, and we kept in constant contact throughout the entire process.  Whatever your case may be, your transfer coordinator will explain the requirements, provide assistance, and ensure you register for the appropriate classes. Follow their advice and you’ll be off to a great start!

Related: How to Avoid These 5 Common Transfer Student Mistakes

3. Visit 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.

4. Go to transfer orientation day

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

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. But attending a school and making the effort to learn of my resources made a world of a difference. After a few setbacks, the transfer experience finally became what I needed. I learned from my mistakes and am thriving on a campus where I feel I belong.

Related: Transfer Shock: How to Combat and Minimize This Very Real Phenomenon

Your success is entirely up to you, and taking responsibility for your transfer experience simplifies the process. 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 try to remind students who are going through it to speak with a transfer advisor before making any drastic decisions on their own.

As some final advice, make sure you go into your applications aware of all application requirements such as recommendations, essays, SAT scores, GPA minimums, interviews, and necessary financial aid documents. The last thing you want is to fall behind on your transfer deadlines, current school work, or other responsibilities because you’re scrambling to get paperwork at the last minute. Staying on top of things is the name of the game!

Start exploring amazing schools that are looking for you on our featured transfer college lists.

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