The Complete Guide to Transferring Colleges

Classrooms Team

Nov 12, 2020
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Pursuing higher education isn’t always straightforward. Some college students finish their degree in four years without a hiccup, but others face unique challenges. You might find that your school becomes too expensive after tuition increases or you don’t fit in with the campus environment.

You don’t have to stay with the first school you attend. Check out the complete guide to transferring colleges to see how you could switch to a better university. Once you know what you’re looking for, take these steps to make your transfer happen.

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1. Think Things Through

Consider why you’re wondering about potentially transferring colleges. Is it to save money, pursue a different degree, or move closer to your family? Once you have your answers, you’ll have criteria to guide you as you decide which colleges are better or worse than the one you currently attend.

2. Research Other Schools

Now that you know your motivation for transferring, it’s time to research other schools. Check out specific details about different colleges, like:

  • What degrees they offer
  • What their tuition costs
  • Where their academic reputation stands

Someone wanting to become a doctor would look for a school with a stellar reputation in the life sciences community. A prospective teacher would want a university with a dedicated teaching program. It all depends on what you want for your future that you’re not getting right now.

3. Contact Financial Aid Offices

After you have a list of places that interest you, reach out to their financial aid offices. Inquire about student fees you’ll have to pay in addition to tuition and a meal plan.

You can also look into scholarship options and ask if your preferred colleges offer in-house funding. Transfer students have less of these opportunities, but some universities set aside funds for people requesting a transfer. Guidance from official office staff will make the process much easier to navigate and clearly define your remaining options.

4. Check With Your Advisor

Your financial situation will likely narrow down your list of colleges. When you have a handful to choose from, meet with your advisor. Talk with them about the courses you’ve already completed to see if they’ll transfer.

Depending on their availability, your advisor could also contact your colleges to talk with their registrar offices for more specific information. If not, you can always do this yourself with a few quick phone calls.

5. Review Application Requirements

Every college has a slightly different application process, so review every requirement. Make strict notes, so you don’t confuse them. They’ll require application fees, essays, and other specifics you’ll likely need to submit through the university’s application portal.

Before you get started, see if you can apply with the Common Application, which is the only way to apply to multiple colleges at once. It speeds up the process and reduces the fees you need to pay. It won’t work for every university, but it could help with a few you have in mind.

6. Write Down Deadlines

Deadlines will make or break your application process. Write them all down in your calendar and create reminder notifications in the days or weeks ahead. Use whatever normally helps you keep track of due dates, so there’s no learning curve to deal with too.

7. Get Letters of Recommendation

Students transferring colleges need to ask their professors for recommendation letters and submit them with each application. They’ll testify to your dedication and intelligence, possibly swaying the admissions office after they review your transcripts.

8. Compare Housing Options

You won’t be able to attend another college if you can’t afford housing there. Before reaching your deadlines, compare on-campus and off-campus housing for each university. It’s another way to reduce your list of colleges and get one step closer to transferring.

9. Discover Local Opportunities

Most universities exist next to or within a city. It gives students more opportunities for local jobs and internships. Finding these things close to your college helps you build experience for your eventual career field.

Look up the businesses around the colleges you prefer. Getting good grades is essential to graduate, but getting relevant field experience matters most to recruiters after college.

10. Make a Game Plan

As you submit your final applications, make a game plan for all the other factors that need to fall into place. Think about how you’ll move your belongings when that should happen and what supplies you might need. Budget for new books and look for upcoming campus events to meet new friends.

Keep an Open Mind

According to recent research, 45% of students transfer more than once during their college career. If your next university isn’t as great as you thought it’d be, that’s okay. Do your research, talk with people who can help, and transferring colleges will be a positive experience no matter the outcome.

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