Guide for Transferring College: Things You Should Know



Most of the attention during admission season is given to high school applicants, which means the transfer students get left behind. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about a third of the students end up transferring to other universities.

Here are 7 things about transferring that you might not know but should.

1. Competition can be slightly tougher.

The acceptance rate for transfer applicants can sometimes be higher than the normal first-year acceptance rate. For example, at Stanford University, the acceptance rate for transfer students is between 1% and 4%, while for freshman applicants it is 5.1%. However, there are some prestigious colleges where the transfer acceptance rate is lower than freshmen rates.

Many times, students planning on transferring don’t know that the amount of transfer students admitted in a college is based on the number of undergrad students leaving. Keep in mind that smaller schools, which have only a few undergrads leaving, will have just a couple spots for transfer students. Some universities don’t have room for transfers, so do your research before applying!

2. The transfer applications are not exactly the same as the freshman application process.

One of the main differences between the first-year application and transfer application is that colleges look more closely at the evaluation criteria and weigh the GPA more heavily for the transfers. College coursework is supposed to be more rigorous than high school curricula; therefore as a transfer student, you should be most concerned about raising your GPA as much as possible.

3. Standardized tests are weighted less.

Standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT are less important for transfer students than high school applicants. In fact, the more time you’ve spent in college, the less universities care about your ACT or SAT scores. If you are transferring a semester after college, then schools may require you to submit your standardized test scores. 

4. Make sure your credits transfer.

You want the credits you gained from your classes in the university you are currently in to count for something. During the transfer process, talk to a college transfer specialist and make sure you don’t lose credits by moving to another school. Not all credits are guaranteed to be transferable. There is some mediation that goes on once you enter another college, which is why it is imperative to plan ahead and be assured that your credits will transfer.

5. Transfer students are eligible for merit aid.

Although merit aid is more limited for transfer students compared to freshman applicants, transfers still quality for financial aid in several colleges. It is reported that over 70% of colleges award merit scholarships to transfer students. Some colleges even set aside specialized financial aid for transfer students. When you are transferring to a new college, make sure to ask the new school’s admission office about scholarships and financial aid. Some schools might even have an office dedicated to transfers.

6. Look for schools that are interested in transfer students.

There are several transfer-friendly schools that especially seek out for transfer students. An easy way to figure out whether a college is transfer-friendly is to ask if the college has a transfer coordinator or a transfer orientation. If schools have special programs devoted to transfer students, then they are more likely to accept more of them. Another way to access this knowledge is by asking others about their experience at the school as a transfer. 

7. Concentrate on the positives when explaining why you want to transfer.

College applications usually ask students why they want to transfer. Instead of talking about what you don’t like about your current school, focus on what excites you about transferring and what you expect to gain out of this specific college experience. Discuss how the school you are transferring to will help you achieve what you have not been able to accomplish in the past.

Last minute tips for once you get into your desired transfer school:

Go to orientation – if your new university holds a transfer orientation, be sure to attend! Orientation is not just for the incoming freshmen.

Stay on campus & be involved – take advantage of the opportunities to get engaged on your campus. Living on campus will make it easier for you to feel connected and make new friends.

Plan ahead – meet with an advisor or transfer specialist.

Ask for help – don’t hesitate to utilize faculty and resources.

⟹ Finally, enjoy your fresh start!

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