For any college student thinking about transferring, follow these tips to organize your process. It takes patience to make sure you submit each required part of a transfer application. You need to be organized and task-oriented, so make a requirement checklist (deadlines, transcripts, test scores, recommendations, essays, advisor forms, etc).
Also remember, colleges want happy transfer students. So even if you’re not happy at your current college, you need to focus on the positives–your growing academic passions, your activities, and your positive reasons for wanting to transfer. You still need to be active on- and/or off-campus.
- Send out transcripts. Fall semester is over, and you need to send your official college and high school transcripts to most of your colleges. Remember, most colleges may even want your secondary school reports as well. Contract your high school counselor and get his or her help. Only send official copies of all transcripts. If you take intercession classes, you need to send those grades also. Students who did not complete formal high school will also need to submit high school proficiency records.
- College investigations and contacts. If you can, visit the colleges on your list. Attend transfer sessions and meet with transfer reps. Visit with your friends, and get to know much more about your intended major and transfer requirements. Spend lots of time online researching what programs college offers for you. You will need to write about this in many college supplements.
- Complete applications. Many colleges have spring deadlines beginning in January and going through May. Check with each college’s website and make sure you submit completed applications on time. Spend time perfecting each application. The Common Application is moving in the right direction and allowing many forms to be completed online. So try to do whatever you can online.
- Recommendations/Evaluations. Many colleges want to hear from your professors and/or advisors. So check each school’s requirements. You need to connect with people on campus who can write letters for you. This year the Common Application allows you to submit these letters online. Make sure you invite the professor and/or advisor and then assign them to each college on your list. If your college doesn’t formally assign you a freshman or sophomore advisors, an advisor can be anyone who knows you well academically.
- College Reports. Some colleges want a separate college report. This form requires an advisor to state that you are in good standing at your current college. The Common Application has this form online. But you can’t do it digitally. You must print it out and have an advisor fill it out. Then you must mail it—yes snail mail, it to your colleges.
- Submit test scores. Also remember, some colleges want your SAT, ACT, and AP test scores. Check with each school as some waive scores after 30 units. Most top colleges still require then. Again only official score reports count, so go track down your usernames and passwords.
- Write great essays. The colleges often have required essays for undergraduate, EOP, and scholarship applications. Write powerful essays about what your accomplishments since high school and your growing academic passions. Tell powerful stories. Make sure you find ways to use essays more than once. Do not tell write boring stories. Also remember, the Common Application has supplemental essays in multiple locations—Member Questions, Writing Supplements, etc. Make sure to put different information in each essay. And please no whining or complaining.
- Apply for financial aid and scholarships. You need to fill out financial aid applications and submit them as early as possible to the colleges on your transfer list. Remember, many private colleges also use the CSS profile. Also go to the new potential colleges’ transfer offices and see if there are any scholarships they have for students like you. Research the Jack Kent Cooke transfer scholarship if you are a top, top student at a community college.
- Keep your spring grades high/follow transfer requirements. Some colleges will want to wait to see your spring grades as you often are taking major pre-requisites or completing core transfer classes. They may even ask for a mid-semester or quarter updates from your instructors. These forms are available online. Make sure you know the requirements to transfer to each college. For sophomore transfers, you don’t have to complete all requirements. Everyone needs to keep all syllabii from college courses so you can negotiate when you transfer.
- Be patient. Transferring is a challenging process. So be patient. And check and double-check that everything you need is submitted.
Remember, if you are currently at a four-year institution, that you may find your happiness spring semester. So, if you decide to leave, consider taking a leave of absence from your current institution. I have had students decide to return. Have no regrets during this challenging process.