In college, many students rethink their admission choices and may want to have a change of pace. Maybe it’s the culture, student body or reputation, and there can be multiple reasons for a student to change college.
There have been times during my college years that I have contemplated whether I should change schools or not. I’ve spent a fair amount of time considering how to transfer colleges, and it is quite complicated for those who don’t know the way around.
So, if you are in the same boat and wish to transfer colleges, then today, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on college transfer so that you can enjoy your college life and build a better future for yourself.
Understand How Credit Transfer Works
Transfer credits let you apply completed courses from one college to another, saving you time and avoiding duplicate classes. This academic superpower allows you to explore new institutions, broaden your program options, and graduate faster!
If you have completed your fair share of courses in your current school and don’t want to take up those same courses in your new school, then you will need to perform a credit transfer.
While it may seem quite simple at first, the process is rather complicated. This is due to the fact that similarities between courses among colleges are scarce.
Even when you get matching courses, the curriculum and syllabus might be different. Sometimes, you need to take prerequisite courses before getting the credits.
Generally, to transfer credits, you will need to find out the courses that your targeted college offers and whether you have completed any of them or not.
If you did, then you will need to get transcripts of the said courses and send them to the other to get validated.
The admission board will check whether the previous credits meet their standards or not. If they are approved, your credits will be transferred, and you won’t have to take those courses again.
So, it’s not just having the courses right to get a credit transfer. No, their structure and approach need to be the same to get approved by the other college.
That’s why many transfer students have to go through their Freshman and Sophomore courses when they transfer to a new college.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Transfer Colleges
To transfer to a new college from your current one, you will have to take the following steps—
Step 1: Choose Your Transfer Options
There are three transfer paths students are given when they opt to transfer from their current institution –
1. General Path
This is the traditional way to transfer to college. Students will have to apply to their preferred school through the online or manual application process.
There isn’t any unique feature with this option. It is sort of a replication of the actual college application process, but this time, you will have to explain why you are leaving your current college in some of your essays.
2. Reactivation or Reinstatement
As the name suggests, this form of college transfer is granted to students who were accepted by that college during their initial college application, but the student didn’t decide to get admitted there but now wants to transfer to that same college.
There aren’t many colleges that offer this perk. So, if you do have a transfer in mind with reactivation as your primary option, then you would have to do that before making your initial college application.
Some prime examples of colleges that offer reactivation or reinstatement are the University of California, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas, Austin and Regis College.
3. Expedited Method
The expedited transfer refers to transfers between colleges that are connected through a third party. Most of the time, colleges belonging to the same state or organization share this option for students.
A prime example of this is Mass Transfer, a transfer network used by some colleges in Massachusetts, like Regis College. Therefore, make sure to check if there is any expedited transfer option available before you start your college transfer application.
The application process for these types of transfers differs from one college to another.
Step 2: Find Colleges You Want to Transfer to
Once you have decided which method of transfer you are going to make, you will need to find your preferred colleges.
Keep in mind colleges might not accept your transfer request. Factors like student body, academic grades, financial situations and more come into play when colleges start to consider your transfer request.
Therefore, it is best to make a list of colleges where you should be able to transfer to and apply from the best choice to the least favorite one.
The process of listing colleges is similar to how you would do during your initial college application. You should consider visiting back2College’s how to apply for colleges for more information.
But this time, you should also consider what courses the college is offering, whether you will be able to make credit transfers and if it is better than your current college.
Step 3: Contact the Admission Staff
Contact your preferred colleges as soon as you have made up your list. Highlight why you would want to become part of their program and what you bring to the table as a student.
You should establish good communication with the admission officer, as they will be the ones helping you out throughout the process.
Step 4: Prepare for a Campus Visit
When you have gotten in touch with the admission staff, it is time to make your case more prominent by making a campus visit. Manual campus visits are best, but if you are unable to make a physical campus visit, then opt for a virtual one.
Plus, physical visits not only show your commitment to study in the college but also allow you to get hands-on experience with the culture, student body and environment you will be transferring into.
Step 5: Contact Your Advisor
A key mistake that I have seen many students make over the years when it comes to transferring is not involving their advisors. Your advisor is there to guide you throughout your college and that applies when you are planning to move to another college.
Advisors have dealt with transfer students before and will help you to get the major documents and applications ready faster. By no means will they force you to stay, so you don’t have to be afraid when you are seeking their guidance.
They are also the best option out there who can give you a second opinion about your decision. I remember my conversation with my advisor and how he helped me decide to stay, which was arguably the best decision I’d made in college.
Step 6: Check Which Credits Will be Transferred
When you get in touch with the admission office, a primary concern that you should share is whether you can transfer your credits or not. It is best to figure this out once you have completed the campus visit.
Check if you have identical courses with similar course structures. If you are transferring early, like in your first year or so, then you might be able to cross off the basic courses that first-year students have.
Step 7: Consider Financial Aid Status
Financial aid programs can make your college life a lot easier. So, if you are shifting to another college, see if they have better financial programs than your current one and whether you are eligible or not.
Some private or college-exclusive scholarships may require you to complete a certain amount of credits in your new institution before being considered eligible.
As for FAFSA, most of the time, you will need to re-submit your application when you transfer colleges.
That being said, sometimes, you can ask your current admission office to send your FAFSA details, but the process is quite complicated and you will have to meet certain requirements to maintain your scholarship.
You should also check in with your new college regarding scholarship application deadlines and prerequisites for college students.
Step 8: Obtain Recommendation Letters and Certifications
Similar to your initial college application, your transfer application also requires recommendation letters, high school and current grade school transcripts and standardized test results.
I suggest you get recommendation letters from the professors you’ve enjoyed classes with and your advisor rather than your old high-school recommenders.
While that is true, if you are a fresher and haven’t connected with any of your college professors yet, then previous recommenders will do just fine.
Step 9: Fill out Your Transfer Application
Next, you just have to fill out your transfer application with all the necessary details. The application requirement can vary from college to college. Therefore, make sure you check each college before applying.
Step 10: Submit Your Application
Once everything is complete, you will need to submit the application. The general transfer application deadline falls between mid-fall and late spring. That being said, it can vary depending on the colleges you are applying to.
To find out the college transfer deadlines for each college, contact the admission office directly and share your concerns.
Why Would You Transfer Colleges?
Before you take steps to transfer from your current school, consider if the transfer is the only option for you. If you are unhappy in your college environment and there is no way around it, then without a doubt, proceed to transfer.
Common reasons for students being unsatisfied with their college experience are—
- Unable to synergize with the college culture
- Lack of facilities and programs
- Student body and teaching environment not meeting expectations
Happiness and peace of mind are crucial factors in enjoying college life. You will be stressed enough with all the upcoming exams, presentations and assignments.
So, if your college is making you uncomfortable and unhappy, then there is nothing to consider except for transferring.
You might also want to transfer colleges if you didn’t get into your dream school and now want to get there through a transfer.
The reason behind your transfer can also be for a better education. Like maybe you started at a two-year community college; but now want to pursue a four-year degree in a specific field. In these cases, transferring will be the best for your career growth & personal satisfaction.
I’d recommend not to transfer if you are transferring just because the other college has a better reputation than yours and no extra facilities or programs that can actually help you.
Trust me, reputation won’t matter if your skills and and experience are up to the task.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
Transferring from one college to another can be a challenging and rewarding process, but it also comes with certain missteps that you will have to avoid. Some of the common mistakes I have seen students hoping to transfer make are:
Not Doing Enough Research
Understanding the procedure and doing proper research is the key to success in every venture you make in life. The same goes for college transfers as well.
Therefore, before you apply to a new college, you should do your homework and find out as much as you can about the institution.
You should take a look at the programs they are offering, the admission requirements, transfer policies, financial aid options, campus culture and providing student services.
To make this process easier, you can use online resources like:
These tools will be able to help you compare different colleges and see how your credits will transfer.
You can also talk to current or former students, alumni, faculty and staff to get a firsthand perspective on the college. This research will help you make an informed decision and avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
Transferring Without Planning Ahead
Transferring from one college to another requires careful planning and preparation. Therefore, You should start the process at least a year before you intend to enroll at the new college.
Just like your college application, you will have to keep track of important deadlines, such as application, scholarship, housing and registration deadlines and submit all the required documents on time.
Planning ahead will help you avoid missing opportunities, losing credits, or delaying your graduation.
Failure to Communicate Effectively
You should communicate clearly and respectfully with all the parties involved in your transfer process.
This includes your current college, the prospective colleges, your professors and advisors, financial aid officers and your family.
Make sure to follow up with the appropriate people if you have any questions, concerns, or issues regarding your transfer.
With thorough communication, you will be able to avoid misunderstandings, errors, or conflicts that could jeopardize your transfer.
Inability to Adjust to the New Environment
This is a common trope that I have seen among many students. After the initial excitement wears off, students face difficulties adjusting to the new environment.
That’s why if you are serious about transferring, then you will have to prepare yourself to face some academic, social and cultural differences at your new college.
You will need to be open-minded and flexible to learn from and appreciate the diversity and opportunities that your new college offers.
So, don’t be afraid to seek out and utilize the resources and support that your new college provides. This includes taking orientation programs, academic advising, tutoring, counseling, clubs, organizations and events.
You should also try to make new friends and connections with your classmates, professors and staff. Adjusting to the new environment will help you make a smooth and successful transition and enjoy your college experience.
Final Thoughts: Complete College Transfer Process
The college transfer process feels completely different to those who know how to transfer colleges and those who don’t. It can become very stressful if you don’t follow the proper steps.
Therefore, follow the steps mentioned in this guide and you should be able to ease through the process. Best of luck!