Transfer 101: The ins and outs of switching schools
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.
Making the transfer transition:
How to have the best college experience after
A few years ago, Jason Greenwood made the decision to transfer from his community college to the University of California – Irvine because the school had a good engineering program and he liked the idea of living in Orange County. Greenwood is now a fourth-year mechanical engineering major who loves UC-Irvine so much, he became a campus tour guide and tells future students why UC-Irvine may be the right choice for them on a weekly basis. Yet, his transfer experience was not exactly perfect.
“The only thing I wish I knew more about before transferring was my major because I’m not a big fan,” Greenwood said. “When you transfer, you’re stuck in the major. Basically, you’re locked in the major and you can’t be here for more than three years. If I would have known this, I would have decided to major in something different, like mathematics.”
Students like Greenwood make the decision to transfer because their career goals or ambitions have changed, they wanted to save money by spending their first two years at a community college, or because they were simply unhappy being where they were. Whatever the case, transitioning to a new school is not a seamless process. Transfer students can sometimes feel lost after arriving on a new campus and feel frustrated with classes they’re not used to. Like most new experiences, getting used to a new place with unfamiliar faces will take time, but there are things transfer students can do to ensure that their transition goes as smoothly as possible.
The first thing that will make your transfer process easier is keeping an organized binder of all your important documents: transcripts, letters from your professors, housing documents, and any other documents your new school sends you. This way, you can keep on top of everything you need to do before the big move and have extra copies of documents readily available if your new college accidentally loses anything.
Secondly, if you’re transferring to a school based solely on a program’s reputation, make sure that program is actually right for you. Greenwood thought UC-Irvine’s highly-ranked engineering program would be right up his alley, but once he was actually taking the classes, he realized his academic focus was elsewhere.
Fortunately, Greenwood explored other options at UC-Irvine that would allow him to pursue his love of math. He’s tutoring other students struggling with their math classes and is looking into gaining teaching credits. He’s hoping to turn his degree and technical knowledge into a career as a math teacher.
Try asking an advisor from your school if it would be okay to sit in on a lecture in the major you are planning to pursue before you decide to transfer into it. After experiencing a few classes, you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether or not the program is right for you. Attending at least one class will also help you get a sense of the course’s pacing, which can make a huge difference. If you’re not able to go to a class, advisors may be able to give you contact info for students already in the program that wouldn’t mind answering any questions you have.
College advisors are always available via e-mail and will return urgent calls if need be. They can answer questions about how to transfer old credits and what classes are necessary to take to keep on track for graduation.
Adjusting to student life, on the other hand, is entirely up to you. Katherine Burke, a third-year psychology major at Hamilton College had a shaky start, but now believes transferring was the best decision she’s ever made.
Burke wanted to attend a college with an academic setting that she could thrive in and get individual attention from her professors. By fall 2006, Burke had settled on St. Lawrence University but grew unhappy when she discovered that the school had accepted a larger class than expected, which resulted in makeshift living arrangements and courses that were filled to capacity. When she realized things weren’t going to change, Burke decided to transfer to Hamilton, a small liberal arts school her brother had attended.
According to Burke, Hamilton did a phenomenal job of helping her transfer her credits from St. Lawrence and advising her on the appropriate classes to take within her field. The school also guaranteed living accommodations for her first year and she moved into a shared suite with another girl and three boys in January of 2008.
“I never had to share a bathroom with guys before and it was different at first,” Burke said, adding that having two brothers at home made the transition a little easier. “The three of them were rugby players and they and the two of us girls also shared a living area and a kitchen. We all e-mailed each other before I moved in and everyone was very helpful and friendly.”
At first, Burke said it was hard being the new person at school, especially since she had transferred mid-year. But after realizing that being shy would get her nowhere, she made it a point to talk to students on campus when she was unsure about something and ask her professors questions when she needed help keeping academically on-track. She also made friends by immediately getting involved in student groups, and in particular, rushing a sorority – something she would have never done at her previous school.
“Until I went to Hamilton, I was anti-sorority,” Burke said. “But the sorority I’m involved in now is community service-based and I like to get involved in community service. This is how I met some of my closest girlfriends. I met a lot of my other friends just by keeping my door open and hanging out with people who would come and visit my suite.”
After only one month, Burke said she no longer considered herself “the new girl,” but a regular Hamilton student. Greenwood said getting accustomed to classes and meeting new people felt slow, but once he got involved with campus tours, things turned around.
“Know what you want to do and once you’re there, get involved and become a part of the community,” Greenwood said.
“My advice is to know who your advisor is and let them know who you are and what you’re interested in,” she said. “I feel so rejuvenated here and before I left for the summer, I called my mom and told her I didn’t want to come home because I loved it so much. I credit this to all the people I met.”
College, take 3
Have you ever been heckled to play a game where the host wants you to find an object inside one of three cups to win a prize? You play the game, but feel unsure of your guess after he rapidly mixes the cups around. Your friend convinces you to choose the middle one. But what if it’s the wrong choice?
That’s how my college experience began. I was uncertain about what I wanted to study and where. I just went along with my friend’s choice.
I found myself in a university where I was too small. I was one of 300 students to one professor in multiple classes. The material wasn’t challenging or stimulating enough, and the expenses were burning a hole through my pocket.
At the end of that semester, I transferred from a four-year university to a community college. Although the transfer process stressed me out, and I found out that one of my classes wouldn’t count, I ended up discovering a university I had been previously unaware of. I finished a semester at the community college and found the ball under the cup.
I found out from my two transfers that the process can be difficult if you don’t approach it right.
To do it correctly, ask an admissions officer to help guide you through the process and check your transfer equivalencies. Talk with advisers to help you step in the right direction toward your intended major. Check with the financial aid office regarding scholarships available, and note the deadlines! Also, when visiting a university, talk to professors and students. Ask them what to expect and how to prepare; this can help determine if the school is right for you. Remember that everyone will have different views, so talk with many different people. Using these resources is a great way to make a decision and find friends.
The school’s Web site is also a great resource for valuable information. Usually, you can find information such as transfer equivalencies, credit by exam, vocational and technical courses and other programs you might find useful.
Once you’re set on the college or university you’ll be transferring to, get involved. It’s the fastest way to meet people and have fun.
Transferring can be stressful, but if you talk to the school, use the information at hand and get involved, your transition from one school to another will run smoothly.
Transferring Without the Trauma
This article is provided by McLaughlin Education Consulting
As the fall semester is hitting the midterm, you may be one of the many students who are beginning to reevaluate their college choice. If you are considering transferring to another college or university, preparation is key to transferring without trauma. The transfer process is similar to the application process for incoming freshmen; however there are extra steps and concerns for transfer students.
First determine for which semesters the college accepts transfer students. Although many colleges and universities accept transfer students for fall and spring semesters, many limit transfers to fall semesters only. Your intended major may determine whether you may transfer in the spring term. This is often the situation with programs such as nursing and other healthcare majors, due the cycle of course offerings. Alternatively, you may be accepted to the college for spring, but your acceptance to your program/major might be for the fall.
You will also need to know what the application deadlines are for transfer students. These may be different than those for incoming freshmen students. If you received financial aid at your current college, you may need to update your FAFSA and CSS Profile information to allow the college to which you are transferring to receive your FAFSA and Profile data, to ensure prompt processing of your financial aid at that institution. Any spring disbursements of financial aid, including loans that you received at your original college, will be cancelled. You will need to re-apply for loans for the new college. Some financial aid, such as Pell Grants and state scholarships, may be portable. This means that if you received the aid at one college and transfer within the same academic year, funds follow the student.
Letters of recommendation will need to be updated. You will want to include at least one letter from a college professor or advisor to provide insight in to your prior college experience and success.
You will need to submit an official copy of your college transcript and potentially a copy of your SAT or ACT test scores. Generally, your college transcript alone is required. However, if you are transferring less than an academic year’s worth of credit, your SAT or ACT scores may be required as well.
Before you accept an admissions offer as a transfer student, be sure to get an official transfer credit review. The Registrar’s Office will perform the review. Typically, if you receive a grade of C or better and the content of the courses you have taken parallel that of the accepting college, the credits will be accepted for transfer. But beware, as that is not always the case. If you are thinking of taking any courses prior to transferring, have those courses evaluated as well, before you spend the money and time on courses that are not transferable.
Lastly, determine when the transfer admissions decisions are announced. Fall transfer decisions are typically sent out between February and May, while Spring transfer decisions are sent out October through mid-December.
Follow these steps when transferring and your transfer experience will be trauma-free.