Freshman year at college can be a stressful time for many students. Living away from home, making new friends, and stepping up to academic challenges can be trying. For most college students it is just a matter of time before they successfully adapt to their new surroundings and increased academic expectations. However, a small minority of college students will ultimately decide that their current college is not the right fit for them and they will want to explore transferring colleges.
The first step in considering whether transferring colleges is the right next move for a student is to self-reflect on what they like and do not like about their present college. Talking this over with a parent or even a former high school college counselor can offer a great sounding board and emotional support. Do they not like their classes or roommates? Do they dislike their current geographical location? Are they not involved in student life? Are they attending a school that was a safety choice for them because they were not offered admission to their top choice colleges?
After self-reflecting, if a student is determined to proceed with the transfer application process, here are some tips to help increase your chances of admission:
- Start the transfer application process early and plan ahead.
- Some schools will accept sophomore transfers, but other schools will require a minimum of 60 credits or junior status. Also, some schools may require General Education requirements or completion of major preparation courses. Students should check with individual schools as requirements may differ greatly. Applicants to programs such as theater or engineering may have additional requirements. Sometimes it can be easier to gain admission as a transfer student than as a freshman applicant.
- Application deadlines for transfer students can be different from that of freshman students, although the UC and CSU deadline for the fall term is November 30th for both. In many cases, all supporting documents including transcripts and test score reports will also need to be received by that deadline. Remember too, that not all colleges offer winter or spring admission. For instance, UCLA only offers fall admission.
- The primary focus in evaluating transfer students will be evidence of their strong academic preparation and solid scholastic performance. Many colleges require a minimum GPA for transfer students. In addition, many competitive colleges have a minimum transfer GPA of a 3.0, although the average GPA of admitted students may be well above that. Students should check with individual colleges for their requirements.
- Schools will be looking for evidence that the student has explored their academic passions.
- They are also seeking students that have demonstrated involvement in activities, both on and off campus.
- Sophomore transfer students are usually required to submit official score reports from their SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT plus Writing. Students will need access to both their username and password to request these be sent. SAT Subject Test scores, even if not required, can be submitted if the student feels they will support their application. Junior transfers are not usually required to submit test scores.
- Most college will also require an official high school transcript from sophomore transfers. Again, high school transcripts are usually not required from junior transfers.
- Make sure the application contains accurate information, such as grades or test scores if you are self-reporting.
- Allow enough time to reflect, write, revise, and edit a thoughtful personal statement that you are proud of. Check each school and see if they require additional supplemental essays. Colleges want to know the reason for your desire to transfer.
Be positive in your essay about your current college. Your reasons for transferring should be about your desired major and personal objectives.
- Some colleges will require teacher recommendation letters. Try to get to know some of your freshman professors as you may need to ask them for a recommendation letter.
- Many letters can be submitted online.
- Keep in mind, that even if a student is admitted to a new college as a transfer student, most, if not all, colleges will request a transcript of spring semester grades. If a student’s grades significantly drop off, a college may rescind their offer of admission.
- Submit financial aid and scholarship applications on time. For FAFSA, the deadline is March 2nd and check with individual colleges on their CSS deadline.
- Many colleges have spring transfer deadlines starting in January and going into May and sometimes beyond. Make sure to check the Common Application and website for deadlines.
- Schools take into account demonstrated interest. Try to visit colleges and remember to sign in with the admissions office. If that is not possible, emailing the admissions office or professors for information is another way of showing interest.
- It is not a bad idea to leave the door open to return to your present college. Try to take a leave of absence rather than withdrawing from your present college in case you change your mind.
- Lastly, keep in mind that all your credits may not transfer to your new school, possibly adding on another semester or longer to graduate. There is usually an appeal process if transfer credits are denied.
Hopefully, every transfer applicant will be offered admission choices that they are excited about. For those students that are disappointed with their choices, perhaps taking a leave of absence from their current school is appropriate. Taking classes at the local community college may offer a way to boost GPA. Perhaps volunteering, interning, or working can enhance their application. It may even be possible to be a visiting student at a college, offering a better perspective of what it is like to be a student there. Maybe giving the current college another chance is really the best option, with a commitment to work hard and be involved in activities. If you would like personal transfer advice, essay help and tips, or assistance with the transfer process, please contact Pam Ohriner at Helping Hand College Guidance for one-on-one personal expert guidance and outstanding results.