There are many factors that you have to consider when transferring to a new school. Here are some ideas that we hope will be helpful.
The earlier that you start the process, the better off you will be. Creating a time line and a list of things that you need to accomplish before you start the transfer process will ensure that you cover all bases and have a smooth transition.
If the school you are attending offers transfer workshops/fairs, attend them. Get as much information ahead of time on the schools that you would like to attend. Check out websites. Request catalogs. Be sure to pay attention to the general education requirements.
Evaluate what you really want and need in a new school. What are your priorities? Location? School size? Student to teacher ratio? Financial aid availability?
Target several schools. Don’t pin all your hopes on one school. Colleges and universities limit the number of transfer students that they accept. Competition for these spaces is fierce, especially if the schools offer popular and competitive programs. Find out what the transfer policies are for your target schools.
Talk to your counselor and find out if they have a transfer agreement with the schools that you have targeted. Find out in advance what academic credits will transfer so that there will be no surprises. Talk to the transfer admissions counselor at the new schools. Get a copy of your credit transfer report. Talk to both your current counselor and the admissions/ transfer counselor at your new school about credits that will be transferred. If you have credits that you think should transfer but they aren’t being accepted, make you case and advocate for them to be transferred.
Find out the admissions procedures for your target schools and follow them. Remember schools have different deadlines. Don’t miss them. Apply as early as possible. With spaces at a premium, many schools operate on a first-come-first-serve basis. Put together an application portfolio and student resumé highlighting your achievements. Make an appointment to meet with the admissions counselor and “sell” yourself. Be sure to have at least an unofficial copy of your transcript with you.
Check out your financial aid options. Don’t assume that because you’re transferring schools your aid will follow you. Most of the financial aid opportunities have earlier deadlines, so do your homework. Be sure to check out scholarships, grants, and loans in advance. Research scholarships too, but be careful of schemes, you should never have to pay to get a legitimate scholarship. Note that some of the scholarships that a school offers will only be available to students who are already enrolled. Enroll early, as the money is allocated quickly. That way you won’t have to worry about finances while adjusting to your new surroundings.
If at all possible, make at least one campus visit, preferably two. Don’t just take a walking tour. Find out where the student resources are and get familiar with the buildings. Go to the places where you will be taking classes. Sit in on several classes. Get a feel for the way they’re presented and what will be expected. Make an appointment with the dean of the school. Make contacts. Talk to students and alumni.
Review the acceptance letter to the school. Make sure that you understand exactly what your admission means. If you have applied to a certain program, make sure that you have been admitted to it also. Double check with your admissions counselor about the courses that you should enroll in. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
Double check your financial aid package. Make sure that you have the correct and completed forms that you have the level of coverage you’re planning on.
Make the most of any programs that your new school offers for transfer students — special orientation, registration, etc. These programs will help you to make the transition into your new environment.
Your new coursework may be much more rigorous than what you have taken before. If you find that you are struggling and falling behind, seek out help ASAP. Do everything you can to succeed in that course.
Don’t overwork yourself. Remember, this is a totally new environment for you. Chances are you will not be able to work full-time, be a full-time student and be successful. Pace yourself. Make sure that you have adequate financial aid so that you are not killing yourself trying to do too much.
The decision to transfer is just the beginning of your work. You can make the transition to a four-year school much easier by being prepared, organized and methodical.