Get the College Upgrade: 8 Tips for Prospective Transfer Students

Dr. Paul Lowe

As the college application season begins to draw to a close (decisions for competitive schools are being released in late March), one would believe that everything is slowing down.

But actually, it’s the beginning of college transfer season!

College freshmen will soon complete a full year and many have already decided that they need to transfer to another college. Throughout the years, I have encountered several students who wish to transfer. It is now becoming a growing trend. In our practice, we are increasingly even seeing students who are making the decision to transfer while in their first semester, freshman year. Here are some of the main reasons I see why students decide to transfer:

1. They are unhappy: Why remain in an environment for four years where you will be unhappy and miserable – and pay tuition, room and board that will cost you (or your parents) $200,000 – $250,000.

2. Institutional prestige. You may be attending your safety school and you want a second shot or you were discouraged from applying to your dream school. In any case, you desire what we call an UPGRADE.

3. Pre-graduate school preparation. Your current college may not have a strong pre-law, pre-med or pre-business program needed for graduate school admissions preparation or employment.

Whatever reason you may have for transferring, the bottom line is that you need to develop an effective action plan to transfer.

Eight Tips for Prospective College Transfer Students

1. Obtain your high school transcript. As a transfer applicant, colleges like to see your high school grades.

2. Obtain college letters of recommendations. What professors have known you and can write you a meaningful letter of recommendation?

3. Common App Transfer Application. Colleges use the Common App. Take it seriously and be mindful of deadlines and required supporting documents. Colleges have different policies for transfer students.

4. Transfer Essays. College transfer applicants must write meaningful and convincing essays to transfer into their top-choice school. The main essay: What are your reasons for transferring? Watch out for the school-specific supplementals!

5. Provide a current college transcript. Grades matter! What are your current academic courses?

6. Extracurricular activities. In what school organizations are you involved? Are you involved in activities outside of school?

7. Research and visit your target schools.

8. Consider seeking professional, expert advice. Why? In my professional experience, I find that prospective transfer students need to develop individualized, effective transfer plans and implement them. As a transfer student, you no longer have the assistance from your public high school guidance or private high school college counselor. You’re basically on your own in a process that is even more competitive than when you applied to college the first time!

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Greenwich Admissions Advisors. Tel. (203) 542-7288.

Dr. Lowe is an active member of several professional organizations including: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the New York Association for College Admission Counseling (NYACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC), the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), and the Admissions Leadership Consortium (ALC).