Transfer 101: The ins and outs of switching schools

College Transfer

By Dan Mesure

Filling out college applications the first go-around was probably enough to make you thankful you’d never have to do it again. But if you’re thinking about transferring, get ready for round two.  Whether you are considering transferring for social or academic reasons, before you don a different school’s paraphernalia and donate your first college hoodie to the Salvation Army, make sure you have a battle plan for how to transfer.

First, you have to know that you want to go through with the transfer.  The last thing you want to do is end up at your new college only to realize you miss your old school.  If you aren’t happy with the social atmosphere at your school, look into all the extracurricular activities offered at your college.  Chances are, there are plenty of student clubs that fit your interests; by exploring various organizations on campus, you could find your niche with people you never knew existed.   

If you are skeptical of the quality of your college’s academic programs for your major, be sure to get all the facts.  Your best option is to talk to your advisor about your concerns.  Don’t just leave on a whim without knowing what you’re leaving behind.  Most students don’t take full advantage of all the academic programs at their school. Maybe a certain class, study program, or internship opportunity could make your original college choice worthwhile. 

If you still want to go searching for greener collegiate pastures, make sure you will be content with your second go-around.  Research the transfer schools you’re considering, and make sure they not only have the social atmosphere you feel comfortable in, but also an equivalent or better program you wish to study.

Liz Foster, a recent graduate from University of Delaware, has plenty of experience transferring schools.  She transferred from Delaware to University of Virginia after her freshman year.  Foster, who is from Virginia, said a big reason she transferred was because the in-state tuition was more reasonable.  After finding herself unsatisfied with her decision to attend UVA, Foster transferred back to Delaware and received her degree in criminal justice.  She said she ultimately discovered she was happier at Delaware. 

“I fell in love with the community and the people.  I was really involved in the Honors program, and Delaware offered me more academic possibilities,” Foster said. 

Transferring credits from your old school to your new school can be a burden, especially if you don’t do your research beforehand.  Although Foster said transferring her credits from Delaware to UVA was not so bad, transferring her UVA credits back to Delaware was nothing short of a hassle. 

“I had to individually go to every department I had credits in to see if the professors would give me credit for the classes I took at UVA,” Foster said. 

Investigate which credits will successfully transfer to your new school, as well as how far the non-transferrable credits will set you back. 

Jason Morgenroth, a senior at Temple University who transferred from Middlesex County College, was not able to get all his credits transferred to his new school.

“Temple would not transfer in some of my credits because they could not be applied to anything so pretty much that delayed my eventual graduation and I was forced to take summer classes so that I would graduate in 2008,” Morgenroth stated in an e-mail.  

Make sure you talk to a representative at your transfer school about how many semesters you should be expecting.  There’s nothing worse than forking over money for an unanticipated extra year of school.

Finally, to avoid another unsatisfying college experience, visit the schools you are considering to make sure they live up to your expectations.  Your best bet would be to spend a day or two in the area, and even sit in on a couple of classes within your major.  By immersing yourself in the colleges you visit, you will get a good idea of how you’d fit in.