Your Transfer Questions Answered

The college you enter as a freshman may not be the college you graduate from when you are a senior. Not everyone gets into their top choice school, but if you have a plan to transfer, you can find another school that works for you. If you’re thinking about transferring, you may have a few questions.

Why do students transfer?

Some students transfer because a school isn’t as great of a fit as they may have hoped. Other reasons include: 

  • Class size — Classes can be too large to get one-on-one time with professors, or classes can be too small to network with peers.
  • Curriculum — Coursework can feel too easy or too complex. Most students want to find a happy medium of being challenged but not overwhelmed by stress.
  • Campus — A student may have thought that living in a city was going to be exciting, but once they’re in the city, they find that a secluded location is more attractive. Alternatively, some students choose a school that is far from home and have difficulty dealing with homesickness. 
  • Degree offering — Some students are ready to make the jump from a two-year school to a four-year school. Instead of working towards an associate’s degree, they want to transfer to get their bachelor’s degree.

You may also want to change your school because of unforeseen circumstances. A life event could happen and instead of studying in the northeast, you may find yourself having to relocate to the west. Or you may have had to take a break from studies for several years and while coming back, you realize that you want to go into a different field at a different school. 

Who transfers?

If you are considering transferring schools, you aren’t alone. Students at all stages in their journey make the decision to transfer. According to research from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, of the 3.6 million students who entered college in fall 2008, 37.2 percent transferred to a different institution at least once within six years. Of that 37.2 percent, about 45 percent of those students transferred multiple times.

How do you transfer schools?

Depending on the school, this could be an easy or frustrating task. You will have to work with your current school’s registrar in order to declare that you no longer wish to attend and that you want your transcript sent to the new school (read more on transcripts here).

It’s up to your new program to decide if any courses you completed at the old school can be used towards your new degree. In some instances, they’ll find an equivalent. This may be because you stay in the same college system or the state you’re in has some sort of agreement with its state schools. In other instances, you may have to take certain courses again or have to take brand new introductory courses that were not offered at your old institution. Before you apply, check with your program to see what classes will carry over and which ones will not.

Next steps

If you are planning to transfer, make sure you have a to-do list ready. Check to see what the application process is to transfer to the new school and if there are different deadlines than those for incoming freshmen. Keep track of which documentation you need to make sure that you have no hold ups and, as mentioned above, see if your classes will carry over. Once you have all the necessary pieces, you’ll be ready to start the next chapter of your academic career.

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