Transfer Process: Life Changing or a Big Hassle?

I recently reconnected with one of my former transfer students via a social networking site. I assisted the student with the transfer admission process at the institution I used to work at and he sent me one of those rare emails where a student reminds me why I wanted to become an educator. He raved about his transfer experience and how the decision to change colleges transformed his life. Fortunately this student had a positive transfer experience, but the transfer process can be tricky. Here are few things to consider:

Start Early: The sooner you contact the institution you are thinking of transferring to the better.

  • Ask what courses you should currently be enrolled in. Some schools want you to have completed as many general education courses as possible.
  • What are the transfer admission policies? Do they admit January transfer students? Can you transfer in your first-year or do you have to wait until you are a sophomore?
  • What are the statistics for admitted transfer applicants? Make sure you meet the average college GPA and standardized test requirements. What do you need to do to improve your profile? What is the transfer acceptance rate? The transfer admission process at some schools can be more competitive than the first-year application process.
  • Completing a transfer application can be just as extensive as completing a first-year application. Find out if the college or university you are interested in uses transfer Common Application or do they have a separate application process. What credentials do you need to submit for the transfer application process?

Show Me The Money:

  • Ask about the availability of financial aid for transfer students. Some schools do have special scholarships available.
  • Transferring academic credits can have a huge financial impact on your decision to transfer. If all of your current credits are not accepted, you may have to delay your graduation timeline. Find out if your current institution has any articulation agreements with schools you are interested in. If not, contact the school you are interested in and see if they have any courses from your current institution that have been previously accepted for credit. This may save you in the long run!
  • FInd out if there is on-campus housing available for transfer students.  If not, what is the cost difference for living off campus?

Deciding to transfer is big decision, but it does not mean that it is the end of your college career. US News & World Report wrote a great article last January on President Obama’s transfer experience. The article talks about how transferring may not be for everyone, but it may also take you places you never imagined!

Katherine Price

Transfer Advocate

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Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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  1. Help! My kid (2070 SAT, just graduated from Milton Academy) applied to 15 colleges but was waitlisted or rejected by almost all of them. She was accepted to Furman University in SC (her safety school), but received almost no finaid, so I’m looking at a $45K bill for the year. She’s contemplating attending a community college in NYC (instead of going to Furman) and re-applying in the Fall to other 4-yr colleges as a transfer student for the 2012-13 year (or even the 2012 Spring semester). So my question is, what should she do? Go to Furman for a year (and then transfer to a more-preferred Northern school), or go to community college (and then transfer to another school)? Which choice would give her a better chance at transferring into a good college? Any advice would be appreciated. Thx. -Andrew

  2. Dear Andrew,
    Thanks for writing in. If money (financial aid) is a major consideration, don’t let your kid be a transfer student: there is MUCH less money available to transfer students than to 1st year students. And once she has graduated from HS, and once she has taken 12 hours of college credits, she’s a transfer student. While there are some ways to save money by starting at a community college (i.e., finish the general education requirements at a low price and then be able to afford higher prices for the final two years), my guess is that this is not really the route your daughter had originally chosen or expected. We think there will be ways for her to have the full four-year experience without having to transfer.

    Colleges like ConnColl do accept transfers. But again, the amount of aid awarded to transfers is determine *after* all aid has been awarded to the 1st year class and continuing students.

    I have had other students in this position step back and take a gap year. We can help her plan for that. Then we help her start over with the idea of reducing the cost of the education while not compromising on the quality. I worked last year with a young woman from Vermont who was in your daughter’s situation exactly. She went to India for 6 months after completing a new round of applications. Upon doing the research and applying to places she had really never heard about before (and subsequently visiting a couple), she accepted a full-ride scholarship to a great university. And she was not the top of her HS graduating class: solid but not stellar.

    If you think we can help your daughter figure out her plan, please give is a call. My guess is that we can help your daughter move her fingers from the “panic button” to the “reset button”.

    Best of Luck.

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