What do students need to know about transferring?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What do students need to know about transferring?

Regan Davis

Transfer success depends on several factors

Many universities have agreements with community colleges that make transferring a great option for students (California's www.ASSIST.org is an example of excellent transfer options). In the absence of such an agreement, transferring can mean that courses you took at one college will not satisfy requirements at another, leading to additional time to complete your degree. Transferring from one university to another university is usually messy. Find out about transferring by searching for details on college web sites and talking to counselors at both your current and prospective colleges. Transferring can mean different things depending on the circumstances. At best, it is: 1) an excellent means of preparing for university academic demands by attending a community college; 2) a economical means of obtaining a bachelor's degree; 3) a convenient means of satifying non-major requirements; 4) a way to attend college part-time while occupied with work or other responsibilities; 5) a way to explore major and career options before investing in a four year university. At its worst, transferring is: 1) a means of correcting a poor decision; 2) a misguided attempt to do better in college by changing schools; 3) necessary in order to major in a particular academic program not offered at your current college; 4) a choice that adds time and money to the completion of your degree. Keep in mind that transferring is stressful. You will spend time researching options, meeting with counselors, completing applications, adapting to a new college; time that you would otherwise be using to focus on current college demands. As a community college transfer student you will find a lot of assistance in you college's transfer center. Visit the transfer center before your first semester be sure you are immediately on track!

Michelle Green
Admissions Consultant My College Admissions Coach

Transferring can be a money saver...

for those students not ready to attend a 4 year college. It can also help a student who has decided that their college wasn't the right fit, after they got there. Perhaps a student has changed majors or decided that there is a school that better offers the academic program they want to study. It's important before transferring to know what the rules are and follow them. It's also a good idea to get an academic transfer advisor to sign off on your preliminary transcript before making a change. Nothing worse than transferring and losing a bunch of units or having to retake classes, or make up classes. Make sure you have all the pre-requisites so that you can hit the ground running when you get on your new campus! Also, for transfers, it's going to be harder to connect on campus with new students. Many of them will have been there for 1 or 2 years. You may have to work a little harder to make friends and connections on campus, go out of your way to get to know professors and instructors and to learn the ins and outs of the campus. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It will be an adjustment, just as it was for a new freshman on campus!

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Trading places in college admissions... higher education is not exactly basketball

Many students today are presented with the trade-off of seeking admission at a first rate (expensive school) or instead opting (out of choice or coercion) attending a community college. Dreams of transferring from a second choice school to a first choice school begin to fester as soon as reality sets in. Students tell themselves, “If I buckle down in community college then I can prove that I worthy of XYZ college.” But let’s think about this: if a higher number of students seek entry into a college with fewer spots, then what logical explanation explains how more spots for transfers would be available for (many) of the same students who applied the year prior? Added to that, elite colleges tend to have the highest retention rate, so where how could the open spots materialize? This bring us back to basketball – or any other elite sport for which many candidate compete – with one exception: at least in sports one can hope (in a kind way) that a player could get injured. Even then, how many people would vie for that spot? So it goes with the elite colleges in the country. Harvard and Princeton announced that transfers are virtually not accepted. Stanford and Amherst decreased their transfer rate by 50%. The University of Pennsylvania has about a 1% transfer rate, Yale about 4%, and Dartmouth about 7%. Let’s face it, after working so diligently to gain entrance into one of these schools, why would one leave? Hope does loom on the horizon. Some schools believe that transfer students add diversity to the student body, but the essay cannot and should not be the same as a student’s first year essay – otherwise the student sends a message that he or she has not grown or learned from the year off. On a positive note, last year, Cornell, MIT, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Northeastern admitted more transfer students than expected.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

It’s Not Easy, but Can Be Worth It (I Did it!)

Transferring is like applying to college all over again, and it can be more competitive! Transfer students face challenges: making new friends, learning about campus, and losing academic credits or adding semesters. However, if you are 100% sure you are transferring for valid reasons and know the new school is the right fit, transferring can be worth it. George Washington was a good school and I had made friends there, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. I applied to transfer to Rice University after my sophomore year—it was a much better fit for me, I only lost three credit hours, and I graduated on time.

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Deadlines are key!

The deadlines for transferring are different, then for freshman applications, and may vary from college to college. Be aware that not all of your credit will be accepted. No grades below a C- will transfer. And often the requirements of the new schools might be very different then your original schools, so do not be too disappointed if you lose some credit. No college will accept more then 60 credits- the typical equivalent of two years work, since if they will be granting you the diploma- they require that, at the very least, 50% of your class work was completed at their campus. Usually if you do apply after two years of college, they will be only considering your college transcripts and not your high school grades or your SAT scores for admissions. So, if you did not do well in HS, but was very successful at your first college, you would now be in a better position to apply to a more selective school.

Wendy Andreen, PhD
College & Career Planning

Keep Track of Your Hours

Transferring from a community college or a four-year college to another four-year institution can be exciting. Hopefully, you are transferring because the degree you want is at the new college. Keeping track of your hours and how they will transfer is, to me, one of the most important factors to consider. When students transfer to a new college the hours may 1. transfer toward the degree you are seeking or 2. transfer as elective hours or 3. won't transfer. Your goal is #1. If you know in advance that you will start at a one college and then transfer later, be sure to talk with a college advisor at the final destination college to be sure that the classes you are taking will transfer as hours toward your degree. For example, a physics course may be offered as Physics for non science majors, Physics for Natural Science majors, and Physics for Engineers. Depending on your choice of major, you want to be sure you take the physics class that will ultimately transfer toward your degree.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

You are wiser and will still need to cover all the bases.

This time around make sure that you are considering all of the elements of a good fit. Each school that you apply to will need to be a good academic, social and financial fit. The biggest challenge that students face when transferring is having their hard earned credits transfer. Be certain that your credits will transfer and cross check your plan with the Dean and registrar. If you are currently receiving institutional aid you will leave that behind. Contact the financial aid office of the school that you are transferring to to review your current aid package and get a solid estimate to learn how the packages will compare.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services


First of all, this is a big decision and it is not one to take lightly. Let's start with why someone might think about transferring. A student might find it financially smart to spend the first two years of post-secondary education at a community college and then transfer to another four-year institution. This requires shrewd choices, hard work and guidance from advisors, but the combination can save you a bundle on the tuition bill. A student might simply be unhappy at their first university. A student's desired major might not be available at his first school. In all cases, you should research the new target school's website carefully--there should be a page outlining the requirements for a transfer application. Also, do not be shy to contact the admission officer responsible for transfers in order to ask specific questions. Be aware that all of your classes might not be accepted by the transfer school, that financial aid might be limited and that there may be limited orientation opportunities for transfer students.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting


When it comes to switching schools, each one is different. Some may require a certain number of credits already earned, others may be concerned about minimum gpa. Some colleges will admit you directly, while others will only offer you conditional acceptance based on your academic performance after your first year there. Some colleges have a separate office for transfer students, others include them under the admissions umbrella. It is important to check with each school and learn their transfer policy.

MacKenzie LeFort
Polk State College


Go to the transfer college website and find program requirements for the school that you plan on transferring to. Then use that school requirements to take classes at the school you currently want to go to. If you have any other question feel free to email mlefort@me.com I just recently transferred to a college from an online and community college and I lost no credites because I picked really wisely.