College Students, Should You Transfer?

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Empowerly Team
Empowerly Team

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Many students approach Empowerly and ask if they can get assistance transferring colleges. Transferring is a unique process that varies tremendously based on college, region, and student major. In this article, we will address a framework to help students decide a few key questions. Let’s learn how to tell if college students should transfer, how to transfer, and what to expect in the process.

Should I transfer?

First, ask yourself why.

Transferring to a 4 year college is an intense process. It can involve essays, interviews, and a lot of time. The first question students should ask themselves is, why they are considering transferring? Is it for a better brand name, a new work environment, or some other reason?

Most students who are successful with the transfer process have a unique and specific reason why they feel they need a new learning environment. That may be because they have changed as a person since first applying to college, they need a new environment, or for financial reasons.

Second, ask yourself where (to)?

Also consider the rank of school that you want to transfer to. At the top 20 schools and Ivy League schools, transferring is an incredibly unique and difficult feat. At many schools like Harvard and Stanford, no students are admitted off the transfer list or very few are.

There are other programs like the University of California system that have established transfer programs and routinely take students off of the waitlist or from certain 2 year colleges. Determine internally what rank of school you are trying to transfer to and then look at the average acceptance rates for transferring to those schools.

How Admissions Offices View Transfer Students

Unlike undergraduate admissions or graduate admissions, transfer rates vary significantly among schools that are similarly ranked and also by major and interest. Transfer students are viewed as fillers often in the school for majors or types of students they would like or are missing. Established programs view transfer students as students that have matured intellectually or socially after high school and are now ready for the college experience. Other schools, especially top 20 schools, view transfer students as compliments to the school culture instead of focusing on their discipline of study specifically.

To understand more about how your particular college list views transfer applicants, you can call the admissions office. They are often very open to telling you how to apply and what they are looking for.

How to Transfer

Many colleges accept the Common Application for undergraduate and transfer admissions. Many also have specific essays for transfer students about why they want to join a particular university as a transfer.

Some schools do not have any essays for the transfer admissions process and rely on the student’s performance in their current undergraduate school to gauge ability at the next school.

Regardless of what materials schools request, it is very important for students to maintain a high unweighted college GPA. Colleges want to see that transfer students have grown over time since the time they graduated high school. If you had a high unweighted GPA as a high school student, then you also want to maintain that. The key is to demonstrate academic rigor in your course load and academic excellence. Although you will often need to submit your high school grades, college grades are much more important.

The essays must demonstrate a very specific interest in transferring in general, and also for that particular school. Why do you want to change campuses, why will your experience be different here, and what can you contribute to our campus? These are three key questions specifically that transfer students must address in their applications.

What to Expect

Deadlines vary from school to school but often are in the Q1 time frame (January through April). College students planning to transfer should focus on starting to get their materials ready in Q3 and Q4 of the year.

Depending on the process you select, the ranking of the school you are applying to, and the number of transfer processes you initiate, your experience transferring can vary dramatically. For most students, transferring is like the undergraduate admissions process, especially if you are aiming for top 20 schools. If you get lost, don’t forget that Empowerly can help you through this.

Questions? Let us know!