The Eight Question Transfer Admissions Checklist
If you’re a college freshman, about a year ago this time you might have been excited to be heading to the college where you deposited, and moving on from high school. You never thought that you might have to navigate a transfer admissions process, and that you found the school that was the best fit. But if you’re reading this, it’s quite possible that the college you chose turned out to be the wrong choice.
However, the college transfer admissions process is quite different from the process you went through in high school. Here’s an eight question college transfer admissions checklist to help you decide. There’s also “skip” points at the ends of questions 1, 3, 5 and 6 to help you along.
- Why are you unhappy at your chosen school? Write down every reason why. Then go though the list and consider which of these problems you could resolve you decided to stay. Some, like costs, lack of a desired major, or distances too close/too far from home, might not be resolved if you stay. Others, such as housing and roommate conflicts, having too few friends, or low (but not failing) grades might be resolvable. If you have too many unresolvable issues, then move on to the next question.
- If you were to choose another college, where would you go? Sometimes the answer is clear: you would choose the school that was your second choice the year before. Other times it might be a school that was less expensive, smaller or larger, in a different place, or had a different way of teaching the major and other classes. It’s important to choose a set of schools where the issues that have made you unhappy with your current college could be resolved, or even better, nonexistent. if you have no idea, you have some research to do, so move on the next question.
- Are there schools where you are sure that you can get more of what you want? Depending on where you want to transfer, the search could be quite easy, or quite difficult. If costs are the concern, and your target school is the state college close to home, then you need to learn about grades, test scores, and other information that school will request. If those requirements are clearly written, you will need to meet or exceed them. If you have a longer list of target schools, you must compare requirements, and decide which you are most likely to meet. If you are looking to work the college transfer admissions process, and are extremely unhappy at your current college, chances are that you are more likely to choose schools where you are less likely to be denied. If the answer to this question is “yes,” and you have schools in mind, then continue to the next question.
- Do you see this as an opportunity to transfer into a ‘better school?’ The more selective colleges tend to have fairly high freshman and sophomore retention rates, which limit the number of transfer students who could enroll for the sophomore or junior year. If you have a less than excellent (below 3.5) college GPA, admission to the more selective schools is quite unlikely. On the other hand, the better school for many people is not necessarily going to be a more selective college. It will be the one where they are more likely to succeed academically, and feel more at home outside the classroom.
- How did you do academically in high school? If you want to transfer with fewer than 60 credits, typical for community college students who have an Associates degree, then the high school transcript and test scores are considered in a transfer application. If your high school transcript was weak, a transfer could be difficult, unless your college grades were quite good. If you have 60 credits, and the grades expected by the colleges that interest you, the college record is considered more thoroughly. If you had a weak high school transcript, and have a weak college transcript, too, skip down to Question 8.
- What are the credit policies for the schools that interest you? Depending on the major you want, the college’s desires to add students in that major, and your academic record, the college will have a point person who will evaluate your college transcript and tell you which courses can be transferrable, and which will not. If costs are not a concern, then skip down to Question 8.
- What are the merit scholarship policies, if costs are a concern, and you do not qualify for need-based aid? Different schools have different rules when it comes to merit based aid for transfer students. Most likely the college will place a priority on continuing aid for their own students who have maintained the grades required to renew a scholarship. Other schools have awards targeted to transfer students, but might prioritize students who have an Associates degree over those who would arrive with fewer credits.
- Would the local community college be the best place to begin the college transfer process, at least temporarily? If you have to improve your college grades, have cost concerns, or are quite unsure on a possible major, the local community college might be the best option. The community college may offer smaller classes, and better assistance, in the introductory courses than a larger four-year school. The academic advising program could help you to fulfill general education requirements expected of most four-year colleges less expensively, and enable you to delve into your major as a sophomore or junior. It’s also quite common for the community college to be a temporary stop for one or two semesters, but you might not benefit as much from the transfer advising. The advisors who work for the community college are more likely to give the graduating students a higher priority.
The last decision you need to make, before you begin to prepare any transfer applications, is to decide when you want to begin your education at the next college. There are colleges that are still taking applications for this fall, though their numbers will dwindle as their registrars become more certain of the headcount for the start of that semester. Some schools will consider applicants for January entry, too. But no matter when you would like to make your move, make sure that you give yourself enough time to give the transfer admissions team time to make an informed decision.
Hopefully, it will be in your favor.
Need a personal guide to help you work the transfer admission process? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 609-406-0062.