Written by Timothy Fields
As March begins, high school seniors anxiously await college admission decisions throughout the country. At the same time, thousands of students in that same situation one or two years ago are looking to transfer to another college or university. In a recent article, Princeton University highlighted how they plan to increase the number of transfer students they will accept in the upcoming years. However, transfer applicants have historically been a part of both public and private enrollment models.
There are many academic, social, or personal problems that students decide to transfer, but regardless of the reason, transferring is a significant part of the college admission process that does not get much attention. While we feel very strongly about finding a good college fit that will allow us to thrive and grow as you transition from high school to college, the reality is things change, and transferring may be a part of your college experience. One reason that some students transfer has nothing to do with their personal experience at their current institution, but rather the desire to attend what they perceive to be a “better” institution or “trading up”. This idea of “trading up” is one that many students and families explore to access what they believe to be better known or prestigious schools than the one they were admitted to coming out of high school. While we don’t recommend this, the reality is it happens more than most think.
If you are a student or family that is thinking about transferring, there are some things that we want to make sure you know before you begin the process:
1) You more than likely will lose credits. As you think about transferring, it’s essential to review the college site of the schools(s) you are considering to determine how many of your current credits they will accept. You may often have taken courses at your current school specific to that school that will not transfer to your new college or university.
2) There is little to no merit money for transfer students. While need-based aid will be available at the schools you are looking to explore, if you are currently receiving any scholarship or merit money, that will more than likely not transfer to the new institution. So you have to look at the financial ramifications of transferring.
3) Depending on when you plan on transferring, there may or may not be guaranteed housing at your new institution. Staying on campus is a significant part of some of the college experience. However, if you transfer, there may be limited on-campus options available to you.
4) Your orientation and indoctrination to your new campus. Transfer orientation programs vary from school to school, and few are as detailed or welcoming as first-year orientations. If your community and non-academic is an integral part of your changing schools, you may want to look into how your potential schools support transfer students and their translation.
Transferring should not be taken lightly, as there are a lot of nuances to the process and change that may affect your overall college experience. While we don’t recommend it and want students and families to do all they can to find the “right” school coming out of high school, we know things happen, and sometimes change is needed. There are a lot of great opportunities that can come from transferring, but we want to make sure it’s something that is thought through and not simply done for what’s perceived to be a better school as there is no school that guarantees success.