4 Things All College Transfer Students Should Know


Students transfer for a number of reasons. Perhaps you’re going from a two year college to a four year. Or your current college doesn’t offer the major you’ve decided to pursue. Maybe something in your gut is telling you this school isn’t the right fit, and you have to make a decision. No matter what your motivation might be, it is essential you do your research beforehand.

As if college isn’t stressful enough, transferring means a new set of applications, research, and decisions. You will be adding to your already growing to-do list.

Prepare for transferring by finding out what it will mean for you and your academic plan. Before you decide that you want to apply to transfer, here are 4 things transfer students need to know.

1. Application deadlines vary.

Take a look at the transfer admissions pages on college websites to see which semesters they accept transfer students and what the application deadlines are for each of them. For example, the University of Connecticut has different transfer deadlines for different programs, while the University of North Carolina only has one deadline for all transfer students.  

2. Your credits might not transfer.

Different schools have different minimum and maximum credits allowed for transfer students. The reality is, every institution has its own requirements and own standards for coursework. Even if you took English 101W at your current school to fulfill your freshman year writing requirement, you may have to take your new school’s introductory writing course.

In some cases, your credits may transfer and count as an elective, but no longer fulfill the core requirement for your major. For example, your AP Psychology course from high school might have given you three extra credits towards your major at your current school. Meanwhile, your new school may count those credits as an elective, and have you take Introduction to Psychology because it is one of your major’s core requirements.

Submitting your official transcript is an essential part of your application, as it helps determine how many credits will be accepted in the new school. Read more about how the transfer credit process works here.

3. Your funding/financial aid will be affected.

Most federal aid doesn’t follow you to your next school automatically. Any of the federal aid you received for your current school will become due when you leave. You will need to submit an in-school deferment request so you can avoid having to pay right away. To apply for aid at your new institution, you’ll need to add the school to your FAFSA form. Factors that may impact financial aid include cost of your new school and the time of year you are applying. Some colleges also offer special scholarships for transfer students, so don’t forget to ask about this funding source at your new institution.

If you’ve taken out any private loans, you’ll have to check with your service loan providers about whether the loans can be carried over to the new school.

4. The process is competitive.

Competitive, but not impossible. Remember when you were applying to college the first time around? Your admissions essay is your opportunity to demonstrate who you are and stand out among the competition. Show why you are interested in the particular school, with specific examples, and tell your story as to why the first school isn’t the right fit. If your well-being is impacted by your current school, or it doesn’t offer the right fields of study for you, share these stories in the admissions essay.

Note: if you are at a four year school and you’ve completed more than two years of college already, it may be difficult to transfer.

Transfer Application Requirements

Even with the at times complicated process of transferring to another school, for many, the benefits far outweigh any sort of stress leading up to it. Be sure to check application requirements listed on the college’s website for transfer students. In general, you will be required to submit the following:

  • Minimum GPA

  • Official college transcript

  • Official high school transcript

  • SAT/ACT standardized test scores

  • AP scores

  • At least one admissions essay

Before you Decide

Transferring is not for the faint of heart. Between gathering application materials, researching different colleges, and writing college admissions essays, transferring is not a decision to be taken lightly. Be sure to speak with your academic advisor and discuss your options fully before deciding what you want to do. With research and genuine effort, you will find the school that is the right match for you.