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Step-by-step Guide to Transferring Schools

OSAU Team

A year later and you may be feeling a little different about the school you initially enrolled in. Perhaps what you thought would be your home for the next 4 years didn’t turn out to be what you expected so you eventually decide that you want to transfer. 

Whether you're moving to a new place or need a new academic setting, transferring high schools can be a tough process. Adapting to a new environment is hard, which is why it's important to establish strong relationships with your new teachers, peers, and counselors.

Once you’ve given yourself enough time and still want to pursue transferring schools, start looking for one that you think is best fit for you -- learn from what you experienced in your current school. 

To further guide you with the whole process, here are some strategies you can take when choosing a new college or university. 

1. Identify why you want to transfer.

Sit down and ask yourself why you want to transfer. Make sure you have a good reason for transferring. If your current school doesn't have a strong program in your area of interest, or your tuition and living expenses are too high, transferring may be a good idea. 

If you feel homesick, or because you miss your romantic partner, you may want to re-think your decision to transfer. If you encounter a quarrel with roommates or difficult professors, it's important to give yourself enough time to adjust before considering to transfer. 

2. Make a list of what you want in a school or college.

Search for schools that fit your criteria and you can check out colleges’ websites and publications. While some schools may offer advice on transferring, others may not. If it doesn’t, the school may not be a transfer-friendly school, which will make it harder to get into. Narrow your list down to one or two schools.

When looking into colleges, investigate their cost, transfer rate, whether they offer a major in your area of interest, and the schools' academic and social environment. Due to the admissions process, you typically need to wait at least a full semester before you can attend your new school.

3. Maintain a good grade in your class.

Just as your academic record in high school was the most important part of your regular college application, your college academic record is going to be the most important part of your transfer application. When transferring, your current GPA typically has more weight than your high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores. Colleges want to admit transfer students who have demonstrated their ability to succeed in college.The admissions folks will be looking to see that you have a proven record of handling college-level work.

Colleges generally won't transfer grades that are lower than a "C." The fewer credits you are able to transfer, the longer it will take you to graduate. If it takes you five or six years to graduate instead of four, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars of additional costs as well as a year or two in which you aren't earning income.

On the other hand, also take classes that will transfer to your target colleges. Work with your adviser to see which credits will transfer to your target colleges. Focus on taking these classes. This way, you can avoid having to re-take classes. 

5. Set a meeting with a transfer admissions counselor. 

Ask the admissions counselor about the application materials and deadlines, acceptance rates for transfer students, merit scholarships, and which of your courses will transfer. Draw up a tentative transfer plan with the counselor. You can set up a phone meeting or a one on one meeting. 

Make sure to also bring your transcript with you, or send it to the college ahead of time before the meeting. If your target colleges don't have a transfer admissions counselor, then set up a meeting with an undergraduate admissions counselor.

6. Check for scholarships.

Ask around for scholarships that you can apply. Chances are, your financial aid package in your current school might not work in your new school. Because financial aid is handled differently for transferring students, speak with the office about how the process works and the school’s deadlines for financial aid. If you find out that the college doesn’t offer transfer students much financial aid, then you may want to consider a different college.

There are a lot of scholarships available for transfer students and applying for these scholarship grants is not that difficult. Usually, scholarships will ask you to submit an essay and school transcripts. Others might ask you to show any kind of financial need, or highlight any achievements in sports, leadership, and public service. Whatever it is, know that you have a lot of options. 

7. Visit the campus if you cannot attend an open house event. 

Before you accept an offer of transfer admission, make sure to visit the campus of your target school at least once. Sit in on classes. Talk with professors in the major you hope to pursue. If you don’t have the funds or the time to visit the colleges in person, see if the schools offer a virtual tour.

Open house events typically take place once or twice a year on campus. This is a great way to meet and talk to current students, as well as faculty. Try to schedule your in person visit to the campus around these dates. 

In short, make sure that your target school truly is a good match for your personal and professional goals. Ultimately, you should feel confident and clear-headed in your decision to transfer.

Chances are that you won’t be spending all of your time on campus. Make sure to also check the local community. Take a drive around the city or town to scope out the area. Stop at a local coffee shop or restaurant to get a feel of the environment.

If you don’t have time to drive around the city, then look up information about the town or city on the Internet.

8. Secure letters of recommendation from your professors.

Most colleges require transfer students to have at least one letter of recommendation from a professor so start communicating the professors of classes that you have done well in. See if they are willing to write a recommendation letter for you. 

But don’t be discouraged if they will not write a letter for you. Some professors just don’t have the time. Instead, move onto the next professor.

9. Gather your transcripts and SAT/ACT scores. 

You will need to submit an official transcript from your current college and, if required, your high school. Have your college and high school send your prospective colleges your official transcripts. Also send your official SAT/ACT scores to your prospective colleges. Use the same SAT/ACT scores that you applied with to your current college.

10. Submit your application before the deadline. 

Be aware of application deadlines so you can submit your application early. Most college applications are submitted electronically online. This requires students to create an online account with the college. Create the account and familiarize yourself with the account’s features. This way, when it comes time to submit your application, you will not have any trouble figuring it out. While submitting your application early may not ensure you a spot, it shows the college that you are committed to the school if you are accepted. It also allows the college enough time to consider you for financial aid and scholarships. 

School deadlines are made with the consideration of possible delays, so hurrying up the process might get you nowhere. But remember, you can’t rely on other people to do the work for you. While it can be challenging, you need to go out and do what’s necessary. Do not worry all effort and hard work you’ve put into this process of transferring schools will be worth it in the end.


Academic Guide


Works as Management Team at Our School and Us