Helpful Tips For Transfer Students

According to a study released last year by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center one-third of all college students change colleges at least once before earning a degree.  The traditional road to graduating from the same institution is becoming less and less likely.

Why do some many students transfer?

Often times,  a student is just not happy at their current institution and they can’t see spending another four years at the same college.  Also, there are times when a student realizes, once they choose their major, that the college they are currently attending does not have a strong enough program .  Finally, some students have no intention of completing their degree at the school they initially choose because that school was not their first choice.

What kind of research should a student do once they decide to transfer?

The first thing for any student to do is research any colleges they are thinking of transferring to.  Visit the college website and find out what the transfer policies are for the college.  Usually there is a minimum and a maximum number of credits a student must have earned before they can transfer.   Find out how many credits a college requires transferring students to have earned before they can transfer.  Also, many schools will not allow a student to transfer if they have completed more than two years at their current college.  Finally, a transfer students need to be aware that many schools won't accept credit from a class if you earned below a C.

Once a student has narrowed their search to a couple of schools they should visit the campus.    Most colleges allow students to sit in on a class so transfer students should take advantage of this option.  It is especially important to sit in on a faculty member who might be teaching a class that is intriguing or interesting.  

Students need to do their research because the last thing a student wants to have to do is transfer again in another year because they made a poor decision.

What type of documents does a transfer student need?

The first thing that a student will need to acquire is their current college transcripts.  Students will also have to get another copy of their high school transcripts and usually another copy of their SAT or ACT scores.  However, the high school transcripts and standardized test scores are not as important for a transfer student.  The current grades will be the most important factor in getting accepted to a new school.

Next, a transfer student should get recommendations from current college professors. High school recommendations are good, but it is important that a faculty member, who knows a student’s current academic abilities, vouch for that person.  When asking for a recommendation letter, a student should not be afraid to ask a professor for a good reference letter.  If a professor indicates they are not willing to write a glowing reference it is perfectly fine to say no thank you and ask someone else. 

Finally, a transfer student needs to write a personal statement explaining why they want to transfer.  This is an area that I often recommend a student get help with.  This document needs to be compelling and state in clear terms the rationale behind the transfer decision.  The admissions staff at colleges get hundreds of letters and if a student can write a letter that helps them stand out it can mean the difference between getting accepted or not. 

Can transfer students get financial aid and scholarships?

Student financial aid does not directly transfer between colleges.  What happens, is that the new college will look at the information on the students FAFSA and then do another calculation.  Most types of state and federal government aid will be transferrable but individual school based aid is usually different.  Transfer students are usually eligible for less scholarship money than first-time and continuing students.  Also, if a transfer student has a current scholarship, that money is not transferable. 

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