Friday, July 19College Admissions News

What Does It Mean to Be a Transfer Student [+ FAQ]

Transfer student stands in line outside her college counselor's office

It can be difficult to choose where to go to college, and it sometimes happens that a student realizes their current school isn’t working for them. Or perhaps a student starts out at a community college before continuing on to a four-year school to finish their degree. Whatever the reason, transferring to another school is always an option. If you’re considering a transfer to another school, you are not alone.  

What Is a Transfer Student?

A transfer student has completed at least 12 credit hours at one college or university but has since dropped enrollment at that institution and enrolled at a different school to continue their education. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as seeking a better academic, social, or environmental fit.   

Before transferring, it’s important to understand the policies and requirements of both the current and prospective schools to ensure a smooth transition. Taking advantage of transfer admissions services can help you with this. 

What Factors Should I Consider When Deciding Whether to Transfer to a Different College?

Before starting the transfer process, you should consider several important factors. 

  • Do your prospective schools offer the academic programs you’re looking for? Whether you’re continuing the same area of study or changing your major, you’ll want to ensure the programs at your prospective schools align with your academic goals and interests. 
  • How many of your completed college credits will transfer? Online tools are available to help you estimate how many transfer credits will be accepted at your chosen transfer schools.   
  • Are the campus environment and student life a good fit for you? After all, your college experience is about more than just academics. Schedule a college visit to get a true sense of what campus life is like, and check out the school’s support programs for transfer students.  
  • Can you still finish your degree in four years? Many transfer students are still able to graduate in four years, but it depends on factors including how many credits will transfer, if you plan to change majors, if you need to fulfill additional general education requirements, and more. 

4 Reasons for Transferring Schools

Moving From a Community College to a Four-Year Institution

To save on tuition costs, many students opt to attend a community college for two years and transfer to a four-year school to complete their degree. Some community colleges have articulation agreements with public and private four-year universities, offering guaranteed admission or course equivalencies for the easy transfer of credits. 

Not sure which school to attend after community college? Creating a transfer college list can help you with your decision. 

Save Money

College tuition and fees are expensive, particularly at highly selective, private institutions. A change in the student’s or family’s finances may make it more difficult to cover the out-of-pocket costs regardless of how much financial aid the student might receive. It is for this reason that many students transfer to a more affordable institution to complete their education.      

Change Locations

Sometimes, location is the primary reason for transferring — if a student needs to move closer to family or the area surrounding the current college has nothing to offer. Moving from a rural to an urban campus, for example, may open up more opportunities for internships and externships, since employers typically recruit local students. However, there are various reasons a student may transfer due to location.   

Learn Remotely

Many students want to start their experience on campus and attend in-person classes, but for whatever reason they decide they would rather learn remotely. Despite the pandemic, many colleges have reverted from online learning back to traditional on-campus programs, leaving students who wish to learn remotely looking at transfer options.  

Transferring to another school is not something to be taken lightly, so it’s important to understand all the reasons why it’s necessary. IvyWise Master College Admissions Counselor Juaquin advises students to “leave no stone unturned at your current school so you can truly understand why it’s not a good fit and you can then articulate to another college why that institution is better for you.” 

What Are the Initial Steps Required for a Transfer?

If you are committed to transferring, the first step is to start researching other schools so you can craft your transfer college list. Create a spreadsheet with each school’s requirements and deadlines for transfer applications. Consult with your academic advisor, who can answer your questions and help you request school transcripts, complete a degree audit, and organize any other materials you need for your transfer.  

Once you’ve taken the preliminary steps, you can begin the application process. This process will look a bit different for a transfer applicant than it does for a first-time college student. Check with each school on your list to verify their transfer application requirements and deadlines — in many cases, you will need to submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation.   

Learn how to transfer to an Ivy League college.

3 Tips for Transfer Students

It’s important to get as much out of your current institution as you can during the transfer process. Our IvyWise counselors offer these tips: 

Get Involved on Campus

Make the most of your current school by getting involved in student clubs and organizations, attending events, or volunteering on campus. By getting involved in extracurriculars at your current campus, you demonstrate how you can contribute to your new campus community once you transfer.   

Connect with Professors

Take advantage of opportunities to build connections with your professors by regularly attending office hours, participating in class, and communicating with them via email. You will need letters of recommendation for your transfer application, so it’s important for your professors to get to know you.

Remain Positive

Once you decide to transfer, it can be difficult to stay engaged  at your current institution. This is often because even though you have to give your fullest, you are mentally ready to check out. However, putting in the effort and making the most of your current school’s resources will only help you when it comes to transferring.  

According to Juaquin, IvyWise Master College Admissions Counselor, “Any evidence you have, whether it’s building a relationship with a professor or being involved in student activities, is going to really go a long way in the transfer admission office to prove that you still gave it your all and you know why you want to transfer.”  

Read more tips from Mike, IvyWise Master College Admissions Counselor, such as when are transfer applications due.

Frequently Asked Questions About Transferring Colleges

What Is the Process for Determining if All My Credits Will Transfer?

Most college admissions websites list their transfer policies. Just keep in mind that most schools place a cap on how many credits can transfer, and the amount may vary by school. Many schools recommend a college credit transfer database like Transferology to help prospective transfer students determine which courses will transfer — others may have a similar tool available on their website. 

Is It Possible to Apply to Colleges That Have Previously Rejected You?

You can apply to transfer to a college that previously rejected you, though you should confirmwith the admissions office before spending time on the application. The good news is, transfer admissions are more focused on how you perform at the college level than how you did in high school. However, this does mean you need to show improved academic performance and extracurricular involvement since high school. 

How to Better My Chances of Getting Into NYU as a Transfer Student?

If you want to transfer to New York University, be prepared for some tough competition. NYU evaluates prospective transfer students based on both their college and high school grades. You should complete at least 32 college credits, demonstrate that you can succeed at the college level — both in academics and extracurriculars, and have a GPA of at least 3.7 to be among the most competitive applicants. 

At most colleges and universities, the transfer admissions rates are much lower than first-year admission rates. However, NYU bucks this trend, with an average transfer admission rate of 25%, higher than the first-year admission rate but still highly competitive. 

Can Transfer Students Qualify for Financial Aid?

Transfer students can apply for financial aid using the FAFSA, as well as scholarships and other forms of privately-funded financial aid. Just keep in mind that the financial aid you were awarded at your current school will likely not transfer with you, including federal student aid. Your new school will determine how much financial aid to award you.  

Transferring to another school can be a challenging and tedious process. It’s important to know how transfer applications are evaluated in order to have the best chance of admission. At IvyWise, our counselors are experts in guiding transfer students through the transition process. We can help you determine whether a transfer is the best way to help you reach your goals and work with you on a compelling application and essay that will give you the best chance of admission. Get started today by booking an Initial Consultation