3 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Your Transfer Admissions Essay [+ Suggested Outline]


No matter what year you’re in, for all college students, this time of the semester is stressful to say the least. If you’re considering transferring to another undergraduate institution, take a look at everything you need to know before deciding to transfer. 

Then, once you’ve decided you want to start the process, it’s time to start thinking about your transfer admissions essay. Just like when you’re applying to undergraduate programs your first time around, your essay is an essential piece of the application. Since many colleges approach admissions from a holistic perspective, it’s important to demonstrate who you are, what you’re interested in, and what makes you unique. 

Take a look at our list of dos and don'ts for the Transfer admissions essay. 

# Dos and Don’ts for Writing Your Transfer Essay 


1. Writing about your experience at your current college: 


Focus on how your current school has benefited you. What have you learned about yourself or what you want to do in your future as a result of this university? The key to an effective essay is focusing on your growth. 


Bad mouth your current school. Think of this as the same as a job interview - you wouldn’t say you left your last job because you didn’t like the manager. Just like you shouldn’t provide a list of everything you hate about your current school in your admissions essay. Your essay is not place for complaining. Admissions wants to know how you’ve grown, not how much you disliked your current school. “Don’t trash-talk your old university, or sound bitter about your experiences there,” encourages Carnegie Mellon. 


Explain what your current college taught you about your study habits, your motivation for going to college, why you want to continue at another school.  


Use your essay as an opportunity to complain about your professor’s pop quizzes or your inconsiderate roommate. Carnegie Mellon urges students not to make excuses about their poor grades -- “Focus instead on the future.”  


2. Writing about your prospective college:


Choose specific parts about the college you’re interested in. Are you drawn to their psychology research department? Mention that. Do you want to participate in their Big Brothers Big Sisters collaboration? Explain why. The more specific you get, the better. Think about your personal experiences and how they relate to what you’re interested in. Admissions wants to know how you’re the right fit. 


List a whole bunch of organizations, courses, and opportunities just to prove you’ve done some research. Make sure you’re telling a story throughout your application that makes sense and aligns with your interests and goals. 

3. Remembering your first college admissions essay: 


Make sure you’re following the standard essay format, including an introduction and a conclusion. Recall the process of including stories, anecdotes, and examples to draw your readers in. 


Copy from your first admissions essay. Plagiarism is a no go, even when it’s from your own words. 


Basic Outline 

Take a look at the College Essay Guy’s examples of strong transfer essays. They’ll help you get a feel for the level of reflection you’ll want to aim for. 

Introduction - Who are you? 

The introduction is your chance to hook the reader. Don’t start with “Psychology is an area of study that interests me.” Hook your reader to keep reading by telling a story. Write about the time you built an unlikely connection with a patient at the local senior center. Explain how you taught a kindergartner how to play tennis.  Better yet, once you write out the story, start in the middle. Can you start with a quote, something difficult that your friend shared with you? Can you start in the middle of the action, or set the scene to build anticipation?  

What piece of your story can you share that shows who you are and why you’re ready for your next challenge? 

Body Paragraph(s)

  • Body Paragraph 1 - What brought you here? 

Start to tell the story of how you ended up here. What did you like most about your school when you were applying? Then, expand on how you came to your decision to leave your current school. 

  • Body Paragraph 2-3 - What did you learn from this situation? 

Whatever your reason for leaving your current school, use this paragraph to describe what you’ve learned about yourself or the world around you. What perspective have you gained? 

  • Body Paragraph 4-5 - What about this new college makes you want to apply? 

This is your chance to demonstrate your genuine interest. Spend some time researching your transfer college and get to know its programs, student life, and professional development opportunities. Mention exactly what you’re hoping to get involved in and why the opportunities will pave the path to your future. 


Try to tie everything together in your conclusion. If you can, bring it back to the first paragraph by referencing your initial story. 

Start Brainstorming Now 

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start outlining and brainstorming your transfer essay. We know you’re busy with classes, so we’ve put together a basic guide to getting started

Karonica DavidsonComment