Going to college is like entering a relationship; even with the best intentions, the fit may not be right. Just because you are accepted and attend one school, that fact doesn’t prevent you from transferring to another institution if it’s not the right school for you.
If you ever consider transferring between schools, bear in mind our 10 college transfer tips on how to approach this change efficiently and successfully.
It’s Okay To Transfer
Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to transfer.
We get it; you worked hard to get into college in the first place. Feeling like you need to move over to another one can make you feel guilty. That guilt can force you to stick it out at a school that maybe isn’t the right fit.
Transferring is okay; it’s not accepting failure. It’s acknowledging that you need to realize your full potential. If that potential is better actualized somewhere else, then give yourself permission emotionally to go there.
Write Down Your Reasons For Leaving
When students decide to transfer, they often are unable to clearly verbalize their reasons why.
It can be difficult to pinpoint what isn’t working exactly for you. Is the school a wrong fit? Do you feel like you’re sticking out? Are you not liking the course options? Or are you jumping the gun and not giving it a fair chance? You definitely don’t want to commit at least four years to a school that isn’t the right fit.
However, you need to be clear whether it’s actually a bad fit, or if you’re bailing out too soon for another school. The first concrete step to take is to write down exactly what your issues are then. This exercise forces you to nail down anxieties and feelings into concrete thoughts and reasons.
If you can clarify what you feel is going wrong and right, then you can make an easier decision. Write down everything you can and then set it aside for at least a day. Afterward, look it over with fresh eyes and reassess how you feel based on what you wrote.
Research New Schools
Let’s say you’ve made the decision to move, now you need to research new schools to attend.
Because you’re making the move to another school, your research should be more thorough than what you did before. Make sure to study their website thoroughly. Schedule an in-person visit as soon as you can.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to current professors and alumni for their thoughts. Contact as many people as possible for information and perspectives. You need to collect as much information as possible, to leave any doubts about transferring to a new school behind.
Review The School’s Transfer Policy
The next major step to perform is thoroughly reviewing the transfer policy.
Moving between schools, unfortunately, isn’t as easy as “I want to go here now, bye.” Every institution has its own specific transfer policy. The good part is that it’ll be on their website. The bad part is you need to thoroughly review it for many reasons before initiating a transfer.
First, you need to know how they handle credit transfers. If you want to move over credits from one institution to another, you have to see what is and is not allowed. Sometimes you will have to already earn a certain number of credits at one school before it will allow transfer to another.
Other times you may not be able to move credits over if you’re looking to change majors too. Also, if you have credits from courses where you passed but with a lower grade, some schools won’t accept them. There are a lot of factors that can come up between schools’ transfer policies and you need to be aware of them.
How Will You Impact The Community
Another factor to consider when transferring is how you will directly impact the new campus.
Transfer rates for many schools are low, and admissions officials are usually pretty picky regarding transfer students. One metric they’re looking to hit is enhancing the overall campus community by the new students brought in. Think about how you can contribute to their campus.
Do your interests and passions align with any programs already on campus? Does your life story and experience provide an opportunity for other students on campus to learn and enrich each other? These are questions you should think about hard, so, when asked, you can present answers that let those officials check that box.
Just like getting into college initially, you’re going to need recommendations for a transfer.
Thankfully, you’re already used to soliciting recommendations from people who know you academically and personally. While it may seem awkward to ask your professors, student advisors, or department deans for recommendations, don’t sweat it. Make the time to speak with them, explain your intentions, and then respectfully ask for recommendations.
You’re going to be asked why you’re transferring. Think through your answer beforehand; as long as you provide a thoughtful explanation that doesn’t reflect on them negatively, you’ll more than likely receive their help. They’re ultimately interested in helping their students grow.
Make Sure Credits Transfer
To reiterate, make sure to check on what credits you can and cannot transfer between institutions.
Each school has its own criteria on what they allow to transfer over and how. To get that information, you can either check each school’s website for its policies or call the registrar offices. It’s important to get this information, especially if you’re deciding between a variety of transfer choices.
If you have three schools in mind, and two of them won’t take a number of accrued credits but the third will, then that’s important to know. Don’t force yourself to start from scratch if you don’t have to do so.
Plan Financially For Transfer
Moving between schools won’t only affect you academically; it will affect you financially too.
When looking at new schools, take into account their costs. How much will the new classes cost? How much will it take to move between schools physically? Will you have to retake classes?
How much will they cost? Will you be saving money? Will you need to secure more financial aid? All of these questions need answers before initiating a transfer. If you do so though beforehand, you can confidently pursue where to go with greater mental ease.
Embrace Your Second Chance
Look at transferring as a new opportunity.
Let’s say that you got into your first school because it accepted your less than stellar high school transcript and test scores. If you’ve done well in college, then that upgrade in scholastic improvement can definitely help convince a new school to accept your transfer request.
They will see that you are motivated to succeed and have the results to prove it. If you’re not happy at your current school and feel unmotivated to continue, then look at a transfer as a second chance to move forward how you wish.
That dream will only spur your motivation to reignite and become the kind of student another school is willing to take a chance on. Embrace the opportunity and use it as positive motivation, not as an escape hatch.
Don’t Overwork Yourself After Transfer
After completing a transfer, you may feel the urge to hit the ground running in order to adjust fast.
Don’t give in to that urge. You’ve just completed a lengthy process and have to readjust to surroundings. Don’t overwhelm your course plate. Take a solid number of classes and put in the work. Don’t try to rush through adjusting to the new social scene, new major, or campus environment.
Take your time to acclimate so that you don’t lose perspective and let classes fall by the wayside. If you’ve made the right decision, then you have more than enough time to adjust to where you should be now.
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