Diverse group of students in classroom giving the camera a thumbs up

How to Make Transferring Colleges Work to Your Advantage

While being a transfer student can seem stressful, you're in a unique position to get a lot out of it. Here are a few ways to make it work to your advantage.

Congrats on deciding to transfer to a new school! It’s a big step regardless of your reason for transferring. But it isn’t just applying somewhere else and going through the process the same way you did the first time around. You need to make being a transfer student work to your utmost advantage—because you can. If you’re transferring and looking to make it the best possible experience, here are a few key things to do that’ll only benefit you in the long run.

Be smart with the time you have left

As a former transfer student myself, I understand the stress of figuring out how to fit everything you need for a bachelor’s degree into only two or three years. I transferred from Southern Maine Community College with an AA in Liberal Studies and a focus in English to Saint Joseph’s College, where I received a BA in Writing & Publishing and a minor in Psychology. When I chose my four-year major, I had no intention of declaring a minor too—because I assumed I didn’t have time to take the classes I needed and still graduate in two years. But after talking to my academic advisor, he made me realize with the Psychology courses I had already taken, it was easy to fill up my electives with enough relevant classes to get the minor. Whether your associate degree counts as two full years of coursework or you have to take classes to make up for credits that wouldn’t transfer, you need to make the most of the time you have left.

Find a flexible program

There are a lot of avenues to making your academic schedule work to your utmost advantage, even without four full years ahead of you. The key is to fit your new program into what you’ve already accomplished and build off that foundation as best you can. Luckily, many four-year colleges and universities offer flexible programs that allow you to mold your degree and curriculum to something that fits your needs, goals, and lifestyle. When you’re choosing a major to transfer into, consider what courses you’re bringing over. Can you make a double major work because of the broad curriculum that was covered at your old school? Do you already have enough credits for a minor in something you never thought about? The skills you attain now could give you the professional boost you need later. 

Related: How to Make Transferring Colleges as Seamless as Possible

Utilize all the resources available to transfer students

Transfer students are in a unique position that comes with many different perks. Schools that really care about transfer applicants and prospective students usually offer transfer-focused support during the application process and transition. This could be in the form of transfer admission officers, academic advisors who are well versed in credit transfer, exclusive scholarship opportunities, and more. In fact, to ensure they add transfer students to their ranks, many colleges will offer scholarships with no additional paperwork to all admitted transfers as soon as they’ve applied. When I transferred to St. Joe’s, I received $9,000 for each of my two remaining years without having to do anything to get it! If your school doesn’t offer aid this effortlessly, that’s when you need to put in the work. Look for transfer scholarship opportunities listed on the website of the school you’re transferring to as well as awards that may be offered by private companies and organizations. While you’re doing that research, be sure to search for any other opportunities specific to transfer students that you should taking note of for when you get to your new school.

Switch up your routine

Maybe the issue at your old school was that the academics weren’t challenging enough. Or perhaps the community wasn’t giving you the right vibe. Or you got an associate degree and are ready to earn your bachelor’s. Whatever your reason for transferring, when you switch schools, also try switching up your routine. A routine that’s too consistent can sometimes land you in a rut, making it hard to focus on schoolwork or be present in social situations. Making a change to your daily habits can feel refreshing and reinvigorating in a new campus atmosphere. If you used to work out in the morning, shift it to afternoons and give yourself more time in the morning to get ready or sleep in. If you used to study in the library, find a nice sunny spot outside to get some reading done instead. The beauty of attending a new college is getting to experience more than one new place and community during your higher education. Take this opportunity not just to immerse yourself in it but to also find a new style of living that works within it. No one makes a daily routine and sticks to it for the rest of their life. This is a great time to reinvent yourself for this chapter of your journey, so take advantage of it!

Related: 4 Potential Obstacles for Transfer Students and How to Conquer Them

Transferring colleges and starting over can be scary, but it’s also a unique experience that’s going to teach you a lot about yourself, how you learn, and what your goals are. Make sure you’re taking control of the things you can in the transfer process for the best possible experience and your remaining years of college. There are many different resources that you should utilize, including a lot of kind people who want to help you succeed.

Need more advice on transferring? Check out Our Best Advice for the Transfer Admission Process. You can also connect with Kelli’s transfer college by clicking the button below. 

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


About Kelli Dolan

Kelli Dolan

Kelli Dolan is the Senior Assistant Editor & Counselor Communications Coordinator for CollegeXpress. Her day-to-day includes editing and writing CollegeXpress articles, running the CollegeXpress Counselors social media platforms, and basically just doing all things CollegeXpress. When she’s not editing other people’s work, she's writing for fun, favoring fiction stories and poetry. You could also potentially find her reading, playing video games, or hanging out with her dog, Athena; cat, Apollo; and red bearded dragon, Freya.


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.

Wendy Thompson

Wendy Thompson

Owner, Westport Educational Consulting

I just discovered your site and LOVE it—fun, interesting, full of incredible information you can’t find anywhere else, and a godsend for those of us in the college counseling business. I am a fan!

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.

Sarah Armstrong

Sarah Armstrong

High School Class of 2022

I am a deaf student, and I had always dreamed of going to Gallaudet University. CollegeXpress helped me search though other qualified universities. They helped me know for sure that Gallaudet University was the right choice for me!



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me organize the schools I wanted to choose from in one place, which I could then easily compare and find the school that was right for me!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

University of Vermont

Burlington, VT