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Transfer Student FAQs: Things to Find Out When Transferring Colleges

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The reasons that cause students to transfer from one school to another are just as varied as you’d imagine. Some are simply unhappy with their current college, while others have completed a two-year associate’s degree and need to move on to a four-year university to earn their bachelor’s degree. Regardless of the reasons that warrant a student’s decision, transferring from one college to another can be a lengthy procedure.

If you’re currently enrolled at a college that just doesn’t “feel right” to you for some reason, you’re not alone. I have a few different friends that were accepted by their dream colleges while we were seniors in high school – or so they thought. I ran into a couple of them a year or two later, only to find out that they hated everything from the start and switched schools. Thanks to Facebook and my class reunion, I found out several years later that a lot of other people I knew back in high school did the same exact thing.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with transferring colleges if you’re unhappy, but be sure that the school is the problem. Do you have one particular professor that you don’t like? Is your roommate driving you insane? In those situations, specific people might be causing you grief … not your choice of college.

Some people even attend an alternate school for a year or two and reapply to their dream school in hopes of being accepted as a transfer student. In some cases, this works, because your college grades may have improved significantly over your high school grades and you may have started participating in various organizations that have a strong impact on your application the second time around. Some schools even accept anyone that has earned an associate’s degree.

If you’ve thought things through and determined that you really are unhappy with your choice of school, then you’d probably benefit more from switching to a school that can offer you the college experience you’re expecting than “toughing it out” and suffering until the end. Otherwise, if you stay where you are, you might wind up deciding that you’re through suffering and drop out completely. There’s no need to be embarrassed— President Barack Obama was a transfer student that left Occidental College in Los Angeles for Columbia University in New York after his freshman year.

No one likes making the same mistake twice, so if you want to switch to a new school because you’re unhappy in your current situation, be sure to ask a lot of questions when you speak to the college representatives. If you’re moving on to a four-year university after getting your start at a community college or hoping to transfer due to problems at your current school, you you’ll need to learn as much as possible regarding the transfer of your credits. The College Board recommends visiting the schools that you’re considering and so you can tour the campus and see it for yourself.

Who is Considered a Transfer Student?

Depending on the school you wish to attend, there may be certain necessary requirements in order to be considered a transfer student as opposed to a regular freshman applicant. It depends on the school, like so many other things.

For example, the University of Maryland’s website states that applicants are considered transfer students only if they have completed at least 12 credit hours at a two or four year college, while Vassar College allows any student who has already earned a high school diploma or GED and has enrolled at a college or university is considered a transfer applicant.

If you’re wondering why it even matters, it would be a benefit to be considered a transfer student as opposed to a regular freshman applicant because the possibility of transferring course credit that you’ve already earned would save you both tuition money and time because you wouldn’t have to pay to retake similar courses at your new school.

Questions to Ask When Planning to Transfer Colleges

Be sure to find out the answers to the following questions before you withdraw from your current school, and ask any other questions that you may have.

1. What are the minimum requirements to be considered a transfer student? Do I meet those requirements?

2. Is there a minimum GPA required to be admitted as a transfer student?

3. Is there a special application required for transfer students? Do you accept the transfer student version of the Common Application?

4. What are the transfer student application deadlines?

5. What are the decision notification dates?

6. Are there any standardized testing requirements for transfer students?

7. Who will decide which of my previously earned credits will transfer to your school?

8. How long will it take to find out if my credits have transferred?

9. How competitive is the transfer student application process? What are my odds of being accepted if I apply as a transfer student?

10. Is on-campus housing available for transfer students?

11. What activities and services are available to help transfer students adjust once they begin classes?

12. How large are most classes? What is your current student-to-faculty ratio?

13. Are there any required “orientation” type classes for transfer students?

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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