We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
You’ve decided to transfer schools and are now facing yet another college admissions essay. Trying to concisely sell yourself as the ideal candidate can feel daunting. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 38% of college students are likely to transfer schools — that’s nearly four out of every 10 learners.
So, while there isn’t a one size fits all answer, creating a knockout transfer essay can put you ahead of the competition and send that acceptance letter flying straight for your door.
Here are seven tips to guide your writing and boost your chance at admission.
1. Discuss Your Reason for Transferring
Most transfer essays ask you to establish your reason for transferring. While there were probably a few factors in your decision, it’s best to focus on the positive. Be honest, but remember that admissions officers want to know you’ll succeed at their school.
Transfer essays are usually concise, so you shouldn’t spend too much time emphasizing the reasons why you are leaving. Answer that portion of the prompt in a line or two and finish the remaining essay by discussing other topics.
The admissions department wants to understand you as a candidate, but there’s no need to get in-depth in the particulars regarding your departure. It could be as general as “unexpected changes in personal circumstances” or “reprioritization of values,” the key is to keep it simple.
2. Use Positive Language
Utilizing positive language transforms transfer essays. It’s easy to come across as cynical and bitter if you focus on what went wrong. Instead, apply positive language in your writing and demonstrate your ability to see things with optimism.
Try talking about the things you can do rather than the things you can’t do. You should highlight why you are excited about the opportunity — not why you’re upset about leaving the previous school. Using positive language simplifies your writing and makes it easier for the reader to comprehend. You should aim to write an essay that flows naturally. The reader should be able to grasp the main idea and tone without rereading the piece multiple times.
3. Highlight What You’ve Gained
Take the knowledge you’ve gained from your previous school experience and highlight it within the transfer essay. Focus on your growth personally and educationally — leave out any relationship or social ventures that could shine a negative light on your character.
Remember to put a positive twist on any challenges you’d experienced. For instance, if you struggled with time management at your first school, then you’ve learned what behaviors to avoid. Therefore, you can express the time management strategies you’ve gained while attending college and how you intend to use them at the new university.
4. Mention Your Goals
The admissions staff wants to know that you’ll be a good student and fit for their school. Mention your goals for attending their university. Make the transfer essay feel personalized. For example, you intend to graduate and want to take a picture with the school mascot.
Be honest, but remember, it benefits you to mention your intentions to support their school after graduation. It can be as simple as recognizing their standout alumni association that you’d love to take part in.
5. Explain Why Their School Stood Out
Everyone enjoys hearing compliments, praise, and respect when it’s genuine. Explain what stood out about their school and why you want to be a part of it. Try to offer a well-rounded explanation. If you chose to go there because of the low tuition, then mention the affordability — but also highlight other parts of the school.
Spend some time researching the university so your comments sound sincere rather than generic.
Examples of factors you could include:
- Selection of degree programs
- On-campus facilities and amenities
- Career Services
6. Express Your Interest
Expressing interest in being a part of the community demonstrates your intended level of engagement. Transfer essays provide the first impression of your attitude and character. The admissions committee should feel your excitement and attraction to their school. Convey your interest in specific clubs, sports or societies that fascinate you.
If the school has a noteworthy professor you’d like to learn from, it’s worth mentioning.
7. Leave the Insults at Home
Transfer essays are not the place to sling insults about your previous university. You’ll come across as bitter and resentful, which are not shining attributes. Admission counselors want to hear that you are looking forward to building a future at their school — not stuck in the past.
Leave the insults and trash talk at home in your diary where it can’t come out to haunt your tomorrow.
Start Packing Your Bags
These seven tips will guide you to write a knockout transfer essay. This is an opportunity for you to start fresh at a new school, so begin by crushing the admissions process. Before you know it, that acceptance letter will have arrived, and it will be time to start packing your bags.