Maybe you’re a community college student looking to further your education. Maybe your current school isn’t meeting your education goals. Or maybe you’d be happier at another school. Whatever your reasons, you’re not alone! Over one-third of four-year college graduates transferred schools. Let’s explore how to decide and how to transfer successfully.
Deciding Whether to Transfer
Transferring can be emotionally, financially, and physically draining. So it’s not a decision to take lightly. Take time to figure out what you need and want from another school. Consider each of these questions as you weigh your decision.
- Have your career goals changed since you decided on your current college?
- What major/minors are you looking for?
- Are you looking for internships, research opportunities, or other hands-on experience?
- Have your finances changed since you started school?
- How much are you willing to pay or borrow each year?
- Are you considering an in-state school?
- Is living in this area different than what you expected? What isn’t working for you?
- Do you want to be closer to home? Or farther away?
- Is the social environment at your current school different from what you expected?
- Do you feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe?
Think about – even write down – your reasons for transferring. Are these things that can easily be fixed with just a few tweaks? Or can your situation only be improved with a change in environment? If a change is required, it’s time to start searching for schools that offer what you need.
Choosing the Right School
Start by making a list of what you want from a new school. Think about academics, finances, and social life. Using this list, start searching using a search engine like Big Future to pinpoint schools that meet your needs. Next, cover your bases by working your way through this list.
Meet with your advisor
Your academic advisor can help you get the transfer process started. They can also provide guidance about how your completed coursework may transfer.
Figure out transfer credits
Your new school can decide whether they’ll accept your completed coursework for credit or not.
- Check the new school’s website to see if they offer an online tool to help.
- Ask for help from the registrar’s office at both your current school and new school.
- Transferring from a Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) school? Use the NH Transfer Credit Database to figure out how your courses will transfer to any of the NH Transfer partner institutions. You may also be able to set up a meeting with the transfer counselor to talk about your options.
After a credit evaluation, you’ll find out how many of your credits will transfer to your potential new schools. Use this information to help make your final decision. Remember, you’ll need to make up any credits that don’t transfer, which can mean more time in school – and more money.
Talk to professors in your major
A professor from your major program can help you find the best programs for you. Ask your professors about which schools have programs that match your professional goals. Find out if they have any contacts at these schools who can help.
This time around, you know more about what you’re looking for and what you don’t want. Take the time to explore and research potential schools:
- Explore websites and virtual opportunities to learn about schools without traveling
- Visit different campuses
- Talk with an admissions counselor
- Meet with a financial aid official
- Sit in on classes
Take advantage of the New England Transfer Guarantee
Will you be transferring after completing your associates degree at a community college? If so, be sure to check out the New England Transfer Guarantee, which is expanding into New Hampshire. New Hampshire community college graduates will be able to transfer directly to participating four-year, in-state independent colleges and universities. If you have an associates degree and an eligible GPA, your admission will be guaranteed!
Applying to Schools
When you’re ready to apply, you’ll notice that the process is different this time around. You’ll need many of the same things for your application. But you may have different deadlines, essay prompts, and requirements to think about.
Applications and Deadlines
Many colleges have separate applications and deadlines for transfer students. If you’re using the Common Application, you have the option to create a first-year or transfer account. If you created a first-year account in the past, you can update your account to transfer status.
- Common App: The Common App lets you apply to more than one school at once. Check to see if the school you’re applying to will accept the Common App for a transfer application.
- School-specific applications: Many schools will have their own transfer application. Make sure you follow the directions carefully.
Apply to your major
Check your intended college’s policy for applying directly to a major. Some colleges require you to apply to your major in addition to applying for general admission. Keep an eye on deadlines, since application deadlines for specific majors can fall before the transfer application deadline.
Explain your reason for transferring
Your goal is to show that you’ve made a thoughtful decision about transferring. Your new school should get a clear sense of why they’ll be a better fit for you. As you reflect on your experiences, avoid making negative comments about your current school. Focus instead on what you’ve learned and your goals for the future.
You’ll be asked for the following materials as part of your transfer application:
You may need to write a different personal statement or essay than first-year applicants. Here are some tips:
- Don’t reuse a personal statement or essay that you wrote in high school. It probably won’t fit the requirements. And you’ll miss the opportunity to share lessons you’ve learned in college.
- Share your reasons for transferring. Think of your essay as your statement of purpose. Explain why you’ve chosen to transfer, or express who you are to the admissions office.
You’ll need to have transcripts sent from each college you’ve attended, even if you didn’t graduate. You may also need to have your high school transcript sent. If you don’t feel that your transcripts accurately reflect your abilities as a student, you can address that in a few places. Use the personal statement, the “additional information” section of the Common Application, or an optional essay response.
Letters of Recommendation
Some schools will simply require that a form to be completed by a current professor or advisor. Other schools will ask for at least one letter of recommendation. Here’s how to handle letter requests:
- Choose wisely: Ask a faculty member who knows you well. Choose a professor who can speak to your academic abilities, and even your involvement outside the classroom.
- Ask formally: Ask your professor if they’d be willing to write a letter or complete a form on your behalf. Asking in person is best, but email works, too. Explain the purpose of the recommendation, and why you’ve chosen to ask this person.
- Book an appointment: Make an appointment to discuss the recommendation at least three weeks before the deadline.
- Provide material: Give your professor information about yourself, like graded papers, a resume, and a list of work and extracurricular experience.
- Don’t forget a thank-you: Send your recommender a thank-you note, and let them know the outcome of your application!
Standardized Test Scores
College academic performance is usually more important than standardized test scores for transfer applicants. Some schools make test scores optional if you’ve earned a minimum number of college credits.
If you have the option to submit test scores, check the admissions statistics on the college website or Big Future. If your scores are above the average test scores of admitted students, it’s a good idea to send yours in.
While You Wait…
Once you’ve submitted your applications, shift your focus to maintaining your grades and exploring financial aid.
It’s important to keep your grades up throughout the transfer process. Sometimes students don’t put in as much effort when they know they’ll be transferring. Keep in mind that you’ll want to transfer as many credits as possible. Colleges have GPA and grade requirements for transfer credits. So maintaining good grades ensures you’ll be able to transfer as many credits as possible.
It’s FAFSA time again! You’ll need to add your prospective colleges to your FAFSA. If you’re transferring between your fall and spring semesters, talk to your current financial aid office to cancel any financial aid you have for the spring semester. This allows the new schools to work on financial aid offers for you.
Making a Decision
Once you’ve been accepted, use all your resources and information to help you make the best decision for you:
- Compare transfer credit evaluations.
- Compare your financial aid offers.
- Speak with Residential Life and Housing to make sure each school has housing for transfer students, if you’ll need it.
- Once you’ve decided, send in your deposit. Check with the admission office to make sure there isn’t a different deposit cost for transfer students.