Thursday, May 16, 2024

How Hard Is It To Transfer Colleges

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Are There Any Pitfalls Or Challenges You Consistently See Transfer Students Struggle With How Can They Avoid Or Fix These Issues

Good and Sketchy Reasons to Transfer to a New College

Transfer students come into their second college with fewer connections to other students and the services provided by the college. It can be daunting to start over meeting people and feeling like you belong at the new institution. For example, at Missouri State, we try hard to incorporate transfer students into the mainstream. There are communications and programming that is specific to transfer students so they have opportunities to connect with other transfer students, university resources and ultimately feel that they belong on campus.

College Transfers Are Common

Before we get into the issue of transferring credits successfully and how that affects graduation rates, it may comfort you to know that you wont be alone in your quest. Far from it. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics , more than a third of undergraduates transfer at least once, and 11% transfer twice. And, believe it or not, we do indeed live in a country of movers, as about one in 50 students transfer three times or more.

So you have plenty of company.

These students fall into several different categories. The NCES reports that, of all the students who transfer, the greatest number transfer from two-year to four-year schools. Still, a significant portion transfer between four-year institutions and between two-year institutions , and almost one in five reverse transfer from a four-year to a two-year school.

Regardless of the situation, all these students have the same basic challenge, and that is to find an appropriate school that will credit them for the bulk of their previous coursework. In fact, research has shown that the likelihood of completing ones bachelors degree depends largely on getting this one piece of the transfer puzzle right.

The Courses You’ve Taken May Earn Elective Credit Only

Most colleges will award you credit for the courses you’ve taken. However, for some courses, you may find that you receive elective credit only. In other words, you’ll earn credit hours towards graduation, but the courses you took at your first school may not fulfill specific graduation requirements at your new school. This can lead to a situation in which you have enough credits to graduate, but you have not fulfilled your new school’s general education or major requirements.

Advice: As with the first scenario above, be sure to have a detailed conversation with the school you plan to transfer to about the specific credits you will receive for your completed course work. You may also want to speak to an academic advisor or program chair at the new school so that you fully understand the major requirements for your major.

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How Hard Is It To Transfer Colleges

Admissions forums and college websites overstate how tough transfer admissions are.

For students entering in Fall 2018, the difference between average freshman and transfer admissions rates was only 5 percent, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling . And while some high-ranked schoolssuch as Vassar and Carnegie Mellondo take a significantly smaller number of transfer applicants , the countrys most selective schools accept even fewer.

Stanford, for example, accepted 3.9 percent of transfer applicants compared to 5.2 percent of high schoolers for Fall 2020 admission, while Caltech took in 5.2 percent compared to 6.7 percent. To be clear: thats still a significant gap. But its already difficult to get into top universities, so it makes sense that it would be challenging to transfer in. Dont admit defeat yet.

In fact, The New York Times reported that colleges are making transfer students a larger part of their admissions strategies. Transfers help replace the tuition fees of students whove dropped out after one or two years. They also help boost a colleges yield ratethe percentage of accepted students who actually attend the schoolbecause theyre more likely to accept offers of admission, adding to the universitys prestige.

So dont lose heart. Colleges might need you as much as you need them.

Why Is Accreditation Important When Transferring

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Prior to making the decision to transfer, it’s important to confirm the accreditation of your current and prospective schools. Accreditation ensures a level of academic quality and public accountability for colleges.

Students considering transferring colleges should make sure each of their prospective schools are accredited. There may be serious repercussions for attending an unaccredited school, including the following:

  • Difficulty in transferring academic credits or getting into graduate school
  • Ineligibility for federal financial aid
  • Inability to obtain professional licensure or meet employment requirements

Beyond checking for accreditation, look up the accrediting agency to make sure it’s not part of an accreditation mill . Although the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation do not directly conduct accreditation reviews, they both maintain lists of agencies they recognize as reputable.

The ED maintains a database that lists schools and programs accredited by legitimate agencies the federal government recognizes when awarding financial aid. The CHEA also provides directories students can use to look up accredited programs and institutions. Use these resources before transferring to vet a prospective school or program.

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Congratulations You’re In College Now What

Once you figure out what you might want to study, look into what credits the degree requires. For example, if you’re thinking of studying engineering at a four-year institution, you’re going to need a lot of math credits. But if you’re hoping to major in psychology, you might need fewer math classes.

“Nobody wants to take calculus if they don’t have to,” says Serrano. It’s best, she says, not to just take classes for the sake of taking classes. You want to know that the classes you’re taking at community college are going toward your degree.

There’s a distinction between credits that just transfer and credits that apply to your major. To help figure this out, lots of schools offer transfer guides documents that show which credits apply to your program of study, which leads us to our next takeaway.

Are Transfer Admissions Need

If a schools normal admissions process is need blind, then its transfer admissions process will typically be need blind as well. That also goes for schools such as Columbia and Rice, which are need blind for U.S. citizens and permanent residents but not need blind for international applicants, whether applying for transfer or regular admission.

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The Social Cost Of Transferring

Many transfer students feel isolated when they arrive at their new college. Unlike the other students at the college, the transfer student does not have a strong group of friends and has not connected with the college’s faculty, clubs, student organizations and social scene. While these social costs are not financial, they can become financial if this isolation leads to depression, poor academic performance, or difficulty lining up internships and reference letters.

Advice: Most four-year colleges have academic and social support services for transfer students. Take advantage of these services. They will help you get acclimated to your new school, and they will help you meet peers.

The Credits You’ve Earned May Not Transfer

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Some four-year colleges are very particular about what classes they will accept from other schools, even if you attended an accredited four-year college. College curricula are not standardized, so an Introduction to Psychology class at one college may not place you out of Introduction to Psychology at your new college. Transfer credits can be particularly tricky with more specialized classes.

Advice: Don’t assume credits will transfer. Have a detailed conversation with the school you plan to transfer to about the credit you will receive for your completed course work. Find out of your new college has an articulation agreement with your current school that guarantees credits will transfer.

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Should I Transfer Colleges

One of the biggest struggles for transfer students is losing credits when they transfer universities. You can talk to an advisor at your current school as well as your new school to see if you can maximize your transferred credits.

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Cost is another factor. Youll likely pay application fees, admissions fees, and other additional fees. On the other hand, transferring colleges can allow some students to enter a program thats better fit for their major, interests, schedule, or finances. Before deciding if you should transfer colleges, it can help to weigh the benefits against the costs.

Personal Statement And Supplement

These are two of the most crucial parts of your transfer application. As I said before, you need to tell your story of deciding to transfer, and this is your opportunity. If you do not tell it in your personal statement and/or supplement, the admissions officer will not know why you should be invited to attend their school. Be open and honest about why you are deciding to transfer and why you NEED to transfer. Try to explain why their school is truly your perfect fit.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a quote from the Yale University Admissions Office:

How do you explain how their school is your perfect fit? Here is a sample mini-transfer personal statement:

In addition to the personal statement, most schools require a supplementary essay , and in the supplement, you have to address a school specific question. Typically, the supplement asks, “Why Our School?”

You really need to have a great answer for that question. These two essays are very similar, but there is an important distinction between the two. The personal statement needs to show who you are through a story and explain why you, as you are, want to transfer or did not belong at your former school . On the other hand, the supplement needs to explain for what academic reason you want to transfer.

Here is a transfer supplement prompt for the UC Schools such as UC Berkeley and UCLA:

Here is the transfer supplement prompt for Boston College:

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Is It Bad To Transfer Colleges

Whether it is good or bad to transfer colleges can depend on the reason for transferring. There can be both advantages and disadvantages to transferring schools.


  • The new program may be better aligned with your goals.
  • You might like the new schools environment better.
  • The new program may be cheaper.
  • The new school might be a better academic and social fit.


  • You could lose some credits.
  • You could lose money.
  • It might take longer to graduate.

Any reason you have for transferring could be considered an advantage. But its helpful to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages before deciding if it is bad to transfer in your specific situation.

Do I Have To Transfer Credits When Switching Schools

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Youre by no means required to transfer credits, but it is a good idea as transferring gen-ed credits could save you a lot of money. If you have a specific concern about transferring credits, contact the registrars office at the school you plan to transfer to. It should be able to answer your questions and address your concerns.

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Maintain A Gpa At Or Above The Average Transfer Gpa Of Your Target Institution

Your current college GPA is going to largely dictate the colleges you can consider transferring to. You should be focused on elevating this as much as possible.

HACK:Consider taking a few easier classes or professors to give your GPA a boost – future colleges wont know the difficulty of each class or professor, theyll just be looking at the overall picture.

Also, make sure your current GPA aligns with the average transfer GPA at a college.

You may be thinking, What is the average transfer GPA for my college? Lucky for you, CampusReel breaks down transfer requirements, GPAs and more by school.

How To Transfer Credit

Students change schools for a variety of reasons, such as needing to relocate, pursuing a different career path, or choosing to graduate from a more prestigious institution. In other cases, students may have dropped out of school before completing their degrees and now want to pick up where they left off.

If youre a first-year student and already know where you plan to transfer to, be sure to research that schools general education program. This can help you choose gen-ed courses that will satisfy the requirements for the school you plan to transfer to.

On the other hand, if you hadnt planned on finishing your degree at a new school, the below tips can help you get started.

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How Hard Is It To Actually Transfer To A Top College

Hearing everyone talk about transferring to schools such as Columbia, Cornell, Northwestern, and etc. and when people say dont worry if your school isnt good you can just transfer got me wondering how hard it actually is to transfer when people make it sound like its an easy or totally feasible option. Do you have to be just as qualified on the transfer application as on the regular college application, or are the standards different? What accounts for some higher acceptance rates for transfer versus regularly admitted students? And just because schools like Northwestern or Vanderbilt have high transfer acceptance rates does that necessarily mean that theyre easy to get into this way?

Edit : Thank you guys for your opinions and thoughts haha it was genuinely informative!

Evaluate If Transferring Is The Best Option

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Before you start researching and applying to schools, take a step back and decide if transferring is absolutely necessary. The transfer process will take up a fair amount of your time, and you will have to essentially start over socially and culturally at a new school. So, if the problem youre having at your current school is fixable, it may be worth it to stick it out.

Do a very clear assessment and a reality check of what it is thats making you want to leave the school. Are you homesick? Are you missing your boyfriend or girlfriend? Do you have a lousy roommate? These are all factors that one can work with versus leaving, said Doe.

Its also important to keep in mind that the admissions for transfer students is even more restrictive than it usually is for incoming freshmen. So, if youre re-applying to a school you didnt get into the first time around, your chances for getting in tend to be lower than they were before.

If the reason you want to transfer is because you didnt get into Harvard and youre at Cornell, but you still want to try one more time to get into Harvard, save your time and save your money and shift your attitude, because Harvard only admits 15 . You were denied and nothings changed since you applied, said Doe.

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Analyze Your Primary Reason For Transferring

Most transfer students change schools due to three types of variables: social, geographic and academic.

Social variables can include disliking your roommates, having trouble making friends, embarrassing yourself at a party, etc. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to think about how the environment at a new school will impact these variables.

This is important to analyze because it will help explain your rationale to a new target school.

Bear in mind that if your primary reason for transferring colleges is a social factor, many of these factors persist on other college campuses…

You cannot escape peer pressure or drugs, for instance – they are elements of virtually every college experience.However, if you are currently at a small school and dont get along with your peers, then moving to a big school may very well help you find a better circle of friends.

Geographic and academic reasons for transferring are much more straightforward.

Key Takeaway: your primary reason for transferring colleges should be for a concrete and purposeful desire that the future university can fulfill.

Follow These 9 Steps For A Smooth Transfer Between Schools

  • First, assess why you want to transfer. There are good reasons to transfer and not-so-good reasons. Explore whats behind your desire to transfer and speak with your advisor, family and friends about whether or not its the best move for you.

    No essay required. Students and parents are eligible to win.

    Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but it doesnt hurt to get a second opinion. After all, transferring colleges can be a long, detail-oriented process. If this is the move you really want to make, it will be worth the extra work and effort.

  • Begin your college searchagain. Now that youve been in college for a few months or a year, make a list of what you do and dont want in a college. For instance, look for colleges that have your major, your desired location and social environment. Using Fastwebs college search can help you narrow down colleges that are a good fit for you based on your needs.If youre unsatisfied with your current institution, make a list of what exactly you dont care for or what its lacking. Use this list to find colleges that contrast your college or university. You dont want to go through the transfer process just to end up at a similar institution unless youre making a move to a better location.
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    What Should I Ask A Transfer Student

    6 Questions Every Transfer Student Should Ask Advisors

  • How long will it take to complete your degree as a transfer?
  • What courses will transfer?
  • What classes at your current school may fill the requirements of the university do you need to take more classes?
  • What priority do transfer students get in terms of acceptance?
  • Is there a separate window of time for applications?
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