Ideally, students are happy and settled at the college they’ve chosen to attend. However, there are many reasons students choose to transfer. Sometimes, the school they chose just isn’t what they expected, or maybe they’ve discovered a passion for a subject not offered at their current school. No matter the reasons, if you’re planning to transfer, it’s important to be prepared.
Timing is Crucial. Most colleges prefer, and some require, that students spend at least two years at the school they transfer to. With that in mind, the best time to transfer is at the end of your freshman or sophomore year. Once you get to junior year, it may be harder to transfer because colleges will want you to enroll for at least two years, even if you’ll technically be able to graduate after one year. It’s also important to consider how long you’ve been out of high school, since the more college work you have under your belt, the more the admissions review will focus on your college performance. This means that your high school record, while still important, may have less importance than it did when you applied right out of high school.
Know your Reasons. When you apply to transfer, colleges want to know why you’re leaving your current school, and why you want to go to their school. In order to be successful in the transfer process, it’s important to do some self-reflection so you can clearly articulate your reasons for wanting to transfer. You also need to thoroughly research the college(s) you’re applying to so you can explain why you want to go to there with specificity and enthusiasm.
Get to Know your Professors. Most colleges require at least one, sometimes two, recommendation letters from a college professor or instructor. Whether you go to a small school or a large school, you should be able to get to know a couple of your instructors. If possible, participate in class discussions and go to office hours and study sessions. At large research universities, you may have graduate students and/or adjunct professors teaching you. Know that colleges will accept recommendation letters from any instructor, as long as they’ve taught you in a college course and can speak to your academic ability and performance.
Dates and Deadlines. Transfer deadlines are usually in March or April for fall admission, and November for spring admission. Whether you’re planning to transfer for the spring or fall, or even thinking ahead to the following year, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Remember – each school has its own timeline, so it’s important to confirm all deadlines with the college(s) you’re applying to.
And finally – just as you did in high school, you need to keep your grades up so you can show that you can be a successful college student.