How Difficult is it to Transfer in College?

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Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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Maybe you started at a community college to boost your grades and save money. Or, perhaps you went to your dream college just to discover it wasn’t for you. Regardless, there are any number of valid reasons to transfer from one college to another. You may be wondering though, “How difficult is it to transfer in college?” It may seem overwhelming–even impossible. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. In fact, one study found that more than 33% of undergraduate students transfer schools at least once. If one in three students do it, you certainly can too! So what does it take then?

While many students do transfer in the midst of their college career, there are a number of obstacles to overcome. Let’s take a look at what some of them are and how to overcome them.

Acceptance Standards and Rates

While the standards for acceptance don’t inherently change (you do still need to have excellent grades, essays, and extracurriculars, after all), universities will expect transfer students to have grown even more through their first or second year of college. Universities also have a lower acceptance rate of transfer students on average. This is partly due to the higher standards for these prospective students, but it’s also because there are fewer spaces available for transfer students. Like a waitlist, acceptance of transfer students depends on how many students left a particular university. If you’ve done well in school thus far, or if you’ve shown significant improvement, these are obstacles you should be able to overcome.

Supporting Transfer Students

It’s easier to transfer to some schools than others. Why? Besides acceptance rates, some schools offer better support to transfer students than others. If you’re interested in transferring to a certain school, look to see if they have counselors for transfer students. It’s also important to see if your current university credits will transfer over to your desired school. If not, you may have to repeat some classes, and it may take you longer to graduate.

If You Applied Before

You certainly can transfer to a school you’ve applied to before, but it may be easier or harder depending on the result of your first application. If you were rejected or waitlisted to a school the first time around, know that they will probably ask you if you’ve applied before and will pull up your last application if you have. Remember though, this could be to your advantage! If you’re transferring after sophomore year especially, you’ll have a chance to show significant improvement since your last application, which can impress a university.

There’s more good news: if you previously applied to a college and were accepted then, you may not even need to reapply. Call the school you’re looking to transfer to and see if that may be true for you. Some may make you reapply anyway, but it still helps your chances that they already accepted you once.

Even better?

Additionally, there are a number of benefits that exist for transfer students. Many universities in the United States may offer some sort of merit-based financial aid to transfer students, and are understanding that it can be difficult to find a school that fits you well on your first try. It doesn’t need to be too difficult to transfer in college, and if you take time to consider the few obstacles that could be in your way, you’ll be able to overcome them with ease.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to have an extra expert review your materials and walk you through the process. Our counselors know what needs to be done.

Questions? Let us know!