Transferring Colleges: an Ultimate Guide (Part One)

By Karen Palmer on May 2021
Category: College Life

a girl and a boy are sitting in fron of their campus

Transferring is not an easy thing to do nor an easy decision to make. You might have multiple various reasons why you want to transfer. This article will help you to learn more about the pros and cons of transferring and how to make a decision without too much stress. Let’s get started!

Pros and Cons of Transferring

In order to make the important decision of whether you should transfer colleges or not, you need to be as objective as possible. Many first-year students want to drop or transfer immediately because their first semester didn’t meet their expectations. However, you should always remember that everyone is different, and maybe you are the person who requires more time to adapt to a new routine and environment. It’s much harder to do if you haven’t made new friends right from the start. But let’s be honest – not everyone can do that.

That’s why a wish to transfer is an absolutely understandable feeling when you are a freshman. You might change your mind later in the year when you get used to your new life and all the pressure you are under. Don’t worry. The majority of college students adjust during their first year, so don’t rush with the decision like dropping your college.

However, if you know for sure that the college that you are in now is not the one that you wished to be in or doesn’t provide you with the proper level of education and support, you might think of transferring and searching for a college that would be a better fit for you. So, here is a list of pros and cons of transferring that you should consider before starting the transferring.


  • Entering the college that fits your needs and expectations. This is the main reason students transfer – they are looking for a college that would give them an opportunity to receive a great education and fulfill their dreams. Not all of us are so lucky to understand what we want to do early in our lives. Many people go through few years of education before realizing that it’s not what they want to study and later build their career on. It’s absolutely okay if you find out that you want to change your major. Maybe there is an opportunity to transfer faculties, not the college itself. Make sure you check the opportunities that your college provides you with.
  • Entering the college that was number one on your list. Each of us has a list of colleges we choose from, and many of us have the number one college of our dreams. However, it often happens that we just can’t go there straight away. Transferring college to get into the one you always dreamed of is always worth the struggle.
  • Finding new friends. The situations where you suddenly get into the surrounding that doesn’t resonate with you and your personality happen more than once in our lives. However, if it’s the college that you don’t fit in, it might be a real problem. Eventually, you might feel stuck in there for four years without any hope of finding a good friend or company. That’s why transferring to a college that you know for sure educates people that you would enjoy being with is the best option.
  • More accessible programs and professors. The quality of education that you receive is one of the most important factors that affect the decision to transfer colleges. And it’s not surprising considering the price you pay for that. You surely want to get the best possible. If you are not satisfied with the professors’ approach towards education or the details and terms of your program, you should find the one that you will be happy to pay for.


  • You might not find what you were looking for. There is always a chance that studying in college is not your thing at all or the college that you transfer to is just like the one that was before. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, you know.
  • You might lose your credits. Not all of the credits can be transferred. Some classes might count but would require more hours; some might not transfer at all. That’s why it would be your waste of time and money.
  • Transferring might be tough. Transfer admissions are often pickier than first-year ones. 
  • It will not save you from a low GPA. If you want to get a fresh new start because of your low grades, transferring colleges should not be viewed as a magical eraser that will solve all of your problems.
  • You might save money by transferring, or vice versa pay a lot more. It all depends on your choice of college.

Should You Transfer Colleges?

The question of should you do it or not is a big one. Of course, it’s not a decision that you can make in one evening – you should put a lot of thought into it. Talk to your parents or college advisor as they might give you some great piece of advice.

However, if you feel unhappy in your current college and have one in mind that you aim for in your dreams, you should start researching how you can transfer and what you should do to get into it. We all have different situations, and we all have different dreams. If your dream can come true, why not at least try to achieve your goals?

Do You Qualify to Transfer?

Another thing that you should keep in mind is that the majority of colleges have requirements for the transfer students, such as the number of courses or the time of the year (usually the spring or fall). For example, some colleges might require you to be a sophomore or junior in order to qualify as a transfer student; otherwise, you will have to apply as a freshman. This means that you basically lose a year of your studies and have to start everything from scratch with the application.

Freshman Application vs. Transfer Application

The difference between applying as a freshman and applying as a transfer student might not be that obvious at first glance. However, there are some specifics that you should know about:

  • Different deadlines. Not only the form of application for the first-year and transfer students is different, but the admission deadlines are also different. The good thing about it is that you don’t have to refill all of the forms and can even apply the Common Application using your existing online account. However, you should check the requirements of the college that you are applying for because the terms may vary.
  • Explaining the reason. When applying as a transfer student, you need to send a college transfer request letter where you should explain why you are transferring. The main difference between a transfer letter and a regular application letter is the motivation behind your choice. However, you should not focus on a negative experience regarding your current learning institution as it’s not polite.
  • The emphasis on the scores. When you are transferring, the admission committee pays more attention to your performance in college rather than to your SAT/ACT scores. Some colleges even make the latest an optional part of the application documents set. However, if you have high test scores, it would be better to send them as well.
  • Transcripts. In order to make a decision, the college that you are applying for will require you to send transcripts from each of the learning institutions you previously attended. It means that all of your scores, credits, and general performance will be gathered to help them evaluate you as a candidate. Not all of the colleges require high school transcripts, as they focus on college performance more, but it doesn’t apply to each and every college. Make sure you conduct research on which transcripts you should provide.

As you can see, there is a slight difference between applying as a freshman and applying as a transfer student. Overall, colleges are pretty loyal towards transfer students as it helps them balance the number of students because some leave after the first year.

Is It That Hard to Transfer?

The question of whether it is hard to transfer at all is one of the most frequent among students who consider transferring. The answer is – it all depends. It’s hard to tell if it will be hard for you because each college is different when it comes to transferring.

Some colleges are much more willing to accept transfer students and even hold some spots for them. Others are pretty strict and picky, accepting only transfer students who made a choice to drop out or take time off. In any case, you should check the policy of a particular learning institution before making a decision.

Wrapping Up

Making a choice whether you should transfer or not takes some time and great research. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s not completely impossible, so make sure you have some patience and time. You should also check part two of this article as it contains some great pieces of advice on how to structure your transfer application and mid-year report. Good luck!


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