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5 Tips to Help Take the Sting Out of College Transfers

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Maybe you weren’t quite ready to leave your hometown right after high school, or perhaps money concerns compelled you to attend a nearby university or community college. Whatever the reason, you’re not exactly where you want to be in your college career – and now you’re looking to make a change.

If this situation sounds familiar, you’re not alone. According to a statistical study that was recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, as many as 60% of all American college students switch schools at least once in the course of pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

Rightly or wrongly, college transfers have gained a reputation for being nervous breakdown-inducing logistical nightmares. While it’s true that the process of moving to a new school can be a bit of hassle, you can ease the process considerably with a bit of strategic planning and advance legwork. If you’re thinking of making the switch, use these handy hints to help pave your way.

*Begin planning your transfer as early as possible. For students who start out at a two-year college with the intent of transferring to a four-year institution later on, the planning process should begin as soon as they set foot on campus. If your decision to transfer arises later on, you should begin to lay the groundwork for your switch as soon as you’ve made a firm decision to branch out. The earlier you can begin the planning process, the less likely you’ll be to fall prey to problems down the road.

*Connect with counselors who have the logistics down pat. There’s nothing that can tank your transfer quicker than a college rep who doesn’t really know what he or she is doing. At both your current school and your transfer school, try to form a partnership with seasoned pros who know the process and the requirements on both ends like the backs of their hands. If you feel like you’ve been saddled with a rookie who is out of his or her depth, politely but firmly request that your case be transferred to someone else.

*Keep all of your paperwork in one place. For college students who have lots on their minds and even more on their proverbial plates, the prospect of keeping transfer paperwork organized can be daunting. At the outset of the process, buy a dedicated file folder to keep all of your records together. Throughout the transfer, document everything that goes down and add your notes to the file. Just a little bit of obsessive record-keeping can do wonders to facilitate the transfer process.

*Try to anticipate problems before they pop up. As soon as you begin to plan your transfer, identify the junctures in the process that are most likely to result in snafus. Talk to students who have already transferred successfully, as well as to college reps who frequently oversee the transfer process, in order to find out which problems you’re most likely to face. Is there a deficit in your credits that could prove to be a snag? Do both of the schools use similar semester schedules, credit systems, and grade point averages? Put on your thinking cap and troubleshoot the process, and then proactively address any potential problems that you think might rear their ugly heads later on.

*Give yourself some time to get used to the new school. So you’ve gone through all of the trouble of transferring, only to find out that your new school isn’t all that you hoped it would be. Experts say that a sense of letdown is all too common among new transfer students. Before you make a final judgment, allow yourself some time and space to get accustomed to your new surroundings. Chances are, you’ll start to feel at home in no time at all.

Do you plan on transferring during your college career? Have any of your friends encountered problems during the transfer process? Talk back in the comments.


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