When people mention transfer students, it’s usually about their moves from community colleges to four-year universities. But what about students who transfer between four-year colleges?
According to a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a third of college students transfer at least once during their college years and not all of them do so in the way you’d expect. In fact, many students transfer to two-year schools or transfer between four-year colleges.
Defining good reasons to transfer between four-year colleges and understanding how to facilitate a transfer can be a challenge for students.
Reasons students transfer colleges
JoAnn Moseman, academic transfer coordinator at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, thinks that it might be time to consider a transfer if your current college stops being a good fit for you.
“Sometimes the decision doesn’t go as planned or your circumstances change,” Moseman said.
Here are the most common reasons Moseman hears from students for transferring between four-year colleges:
- • Switching to a major that’s unavailable or limited at their current school (According to research by Pennsylvania State University and other institutions, over 50% of students change their major at least once.)
- • Becoming uncomfortable with the size of the school
- • Paying for college becomes too large a financial burden
- • Circumstances, such as family finances or losing a scholarship, change
- • Opportunities at a different school are presented
I transferred three times (all four-year colleges) as I tried to figure out my major and career goals. The reasons students transfer vary.
Transfer or stick it out?
But are any of these reasons good enough to justify the paperwork, application fee and relocation that comes with transferring? Moseman thinks they can be.
“If the new school is a better fit for you and your goals, and if the financial resources are available, it can be a great decision,” Moseman said. “… It may be worth it if the department in your major has more up-to-date facilities, internship opportunities and more of the graduates get hired in the field you love.”
On the other hand, there are reasons to stick it out at your current school. Sometimes credits don’t transfer like you’d want and transferring would put you way behind. Sometimes, say, if you’re switching from a business to a creative writing major, and your school doesn’t offer creative writing, getting an English degree will work just as fine and save you the hassle of transferring.
Trying to make your first-choice school work might better suit you in these situations.
“Nothing is exactly as we expect,” Moseman said. “Try out the resources and try to find a community [at your current school] that will be supportive of your effort. Being a little outside your comfort zone is a growth experience but if you are not successful, consider your options.”
So, you’ve decided to transfer…
I remember sitting in a communication class, as an English major, when I had an “Aha!” moment. As I listened to my classmates say their majors and career plans, I realized I wanted to be a journalist. Yet, I was majoring in English at only an average school. So I decided to transfer to a good journalism school.
Many of us have these moments but don’t know how to go about transferring. These are the kinds of students Moseman helps. Moseman gives these five bits of advice to students who have decided to transfer schools.
1. Start early, often 6-12 months before you’d actually like to make the move.
2. Research the school, admission requirements and how many credits will transfer. Sometimes colleges require 30 or so credits before you can transfer.
“Don’t assume all your credits will apply to your degree even if they are accepted,” Moseman said. “… Some of your courses will count toward electives and some may not count toward the degree.”
3. Find out if your current college requires an exit interview. It’s often true for students receiving financial aid from the school.
4. Fulfill obligations at your current school, such as unpaid bills or overdue library books. Your school might not release your transcripts if you avoid this, and you’ll be at a standstill in the application process.
5. Look for transfer scholarships. The requirements differ from freshman scholarships, but many are out there on sites like Scholarships.com and even possibly from the school you’re transferring to.
If you decide the reasons to transfer from one four-year college to another are compelling, then going about it the right way can save you lots of hassle. Just take time to think it through. There’s no going back — well, maybe.
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