Transferring Colleges: Frequently Asked Questions

The importance of planning for all aspects of college cannot be overstated.

Families must ready themselves for standardized testing, applications, admissions and rejections, financial aid, personal finances, and so much more.

You must even prepare for the unexpected, such as your “diamond-in-the-ruff” college choice turning out to be a lump of coal.

Transferring colleges is far more common than you probably realize. For many community college students, transferring after a couple years is all part of the master plan.

Whether you have planned from the start to transfer schools, or the desire for change is a new development, these frequently asked questions should give you a better understanding of how to approach the process.

– Scott

Transfer Admission FAQs: Part I

Numerous students, all with varying motivations, will decide at some point in their college careers that they need a change of scenery.

Some are unhappy, some change their minds, and some community college students that were unable to gain entry to a traditional school (due to academics or finances) plan on it from the start.

Whatever the impetus, you must approach transferring in the same manner in which you originally applied to schools: with comprehensive planning and knowledge.

Q: How do I begin the process of transferring?

A: To start, sit down and think about your decision to transfer. You should be entirely certain that you are not making a choice that you will regret later. College can be emotionally and physically challenging, but you must be able to distinguish between character-building difficulties that you will face anywhere, or insurmountable troubles that are specific to your school.

Next, narrow down your options. Just like when you first applied for college, weigh the pros and cons of each new school and find one that will fulfill your needs (new major, more suitable location, more affordable, etc).

Every school will have their own unique process for transfer students, so it is imperative that you research each individual school’s transfer policy and procedure. You will have to fill out and submit an application similar to those used in the original application process. Plan ahead for application deadlines and give yourself plenty of time.

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You should also sit down with an advisor at your current school and let them know you are looking at transferring. They will help you to fully understand your transcript and make the most beneficial decisions about your courses for transferring.

Community college students should check to see if the college has a special transfer relationship with a nearby four year institution that will maximize the credits transferred, and possibly make it easier to gain admittance.

Q: Do I have to include my transcript in a transfer application if I have bad grades?

A: The general rule of thumb is that you should do your best to be honest and provide whatever the new school requests. If you withhold a transcript that the college discovers later, you may have admission or financial aid revoked.

However, if there are extenuating circumstances feel free to include them in your transfer application. Colleges have seen every reason in the book for students wanting to change schools.

Also, your advisor can help you decide if withdrawing from certain courses is right for you. Most schools set a specific deadline, and if you withdraw before that date then the grade will not go on your official transcript.

Whatever you do, your best bet is to always be open and honest about your motivation for transfer as well as your transcripts.

Q: Do I have to alert my old school that I am transferring?

A: Yes. Once you have been accepted and make the final decision to transfer, you need to follow your current school’s transfer procedures. Check with your registrar’s office to find out what paperwork and exactly what steps you have to take in order to complete the transfer of schools.

Q: What, if any, credits will transfer with me?

A: This is a sticky question, and truthfully, there is no perfect answer. Ultimately, every college will make its own decision about which courses on your transcript will count towards your degree at their school.

Communication with your own school, and especially the school you hope to transfer to, is key to finding out how much credit will go with you. Find out early as it can greatly affect your decision to transfer, and you may want to withdraw from a class that does not afford you transferable credit.

In particular, community college students who plan from the start to switch schools need to find out early which credits will transfer. You don’t want to waste two years only to find out that none of the classes you took will have any impact on your four-year degree.

To your college admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.