Transferring:Know before you go

By Taylor Burke on August 21, 2013
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p>If you’ve ever been the new kid in school, the thought of the first day of classes at one college can be intimidating, let alone the idea of multiple first days. However, more and more students are transferring in college— working the flexibility of the university systems to their advantage. Here’s why.


1✒ Save money
Many students attend a local community college before transferring to a university. This provides students with a lower-tuition option to take their general education classes before transferring to another school to focus on their major.

Students hoping to go to school out of state may attend community college while they establish residency in the new area, allowing them discounted in-state tuition when they transfer.

“The program I wanted to go into was at a university in California, but I lived in Missouri,” says recent graduate Derek Burke. “By going to a California community college for a year, I became a California resident, and the tuition wasn’t so high when I transferred to my university program.”

2✒ More decision time

Choosing a future career and therefore a college major is a big decision many recent high school graduates aren’t prepared to make. When students are unsure, they may choose to attend a more general or community college first—taking advantage of the lower cost. Then, when a decision is made, the student may transfer to a school that has a focus on his or her desired major.

Some students may change majors midway through school. Transferring is an option to find a school that better supports their new dreams.

3✒ Find the right fit

Colleges come in all shapes and sizes. Students may find that their current school’s large class size isn’t supporting them enough, or maybe the classes feel too empty. Some may be distracted by their current school’s social scene, while others may be looking for more. A few months or years in, students often figure out what the right college fit is for them. When their current university isn’t making the mark, transferring to a school that does is a good option.

If transferring schools sounds like it may work for your situation, here are some tips to make the journey smooth:
  • Keep your grades up: Acceptance rates for transfer students are frequently lower than those for first-year students. Also, you are still eligible for merit-based scholarships when you transfer, so the better your academics, the better off you’ll be financially.
  • Get a credit check: Talk to an admissions counselor to make sure your credits from your previous school will transfer over.
  • Find out whether the program that you want to transfer into or major in can be completed with credits from another school. Not all programs accept transfers.
  • Find the friendly: Check if the school you are interested in has a transfer counselor. Schools with personnel dedicated to transfer students will be easier to transition into.
  • Be positive: In your admissions essays, focus on the positives of why you want to transfer, rather than listing all the reasons you want to leave your current school. 



The ‘what ifs’ of transferring, from a student who is glad she did

— by Student contributor Sydney Nolan, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota

There are so many “what ifs” that go along with college. What if I’d studied harder for that test? What if I’d taken this class instead of that class?  What if I’d gone to that party instead of staying in? For me, a huge “what if” I’ve thought about since the summer after freshman year puts all other “what ifs” to shame: What if I hadn’t transferred schools?
Making the decision to switch schools was not an easy one – academically or  personally. In terms of academics, the fact that I made the switch from a public university to a private college made things trickier in terms of how credits transferred and what classes were accepted.

The credit crunch
 I had to figure out how credit earned at my previous university through IB classes in high school would be applied at the new college. Going from a school where most courses were three credits to one where classes were now four credits also made things more complicated. Figuring out where I stood academically required a lot of petitioning various departments and working closely with my new school’s registrar’s office.
It was frustrating at times, especially when I had to fill out paperwork that seemed tedious and unnecessary. (Statistics is statistics, after all, no matter where you learn it, right?) But I didn’t lose any standing or too much credit in the end. I’m even on track to graduate a semester early.

Social life held sway
What pushed me to transfer were primarily social reasons. I found that I had a hard time fitting in at a school with an overwhelming Greek social scene that also had a lot of kids who came into the school with at least a dozen friends from high school. The discovery of a crowd I felt much more comfortable in at my new college made me realize I definitely made the right decision in the end. All of us who transferred in that year are also still super close, making my decision that much better and truly satisfying!

About the Author

Taylor Burke

Taylor Burke

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