What is a Transfer Student?

A transfer student is someone who switches colleges after attending one college and earning credits from that school. If you find yourself so unhappy that you hate getting up in the morning and going to class, you might look at other colleges that offer a similar program. Going to a new college isn’t as easy as just filling out an application and signing up for classes though. Schools that accept new students look at factors like grade point average, classes taken and even standardized test scores.

When to Transfer Colleges

Before you transfer to a new school, make sure that you want to transfer for the right reason. Some students switch schools because they want to be closer to their high school friends or the significant others they left behind. If you feel homesick and have a hard time making new friends, you might have better success at a college close to your home. It’s also smart to transfer when you find that the program you enrolled it does not mean your needs. That program might focus more on general knowledge than specific knowledge or require more math classes than you expected.

How to Apply

As a transfer student, you cannot use the general application required of all incoming freshmen. You usually need to use a transfer application. This application will ask about the college you attended, the number of credits you earned, your standardized test score and even your grade point average. Once you complete the application, you must obtain an official transcript from your college and submit that too. Some schools may ask for an essay that explains your reason(s) for changing colleges. Many will base their decisions on the strength of your application and your college grades.

Will All Your Credits Transfer?

Students often think that college classes are standard across all campuses and that all classes they take will transfer. Colleges actually look at the description and name of each course to see if it corresponds with a class offered. A course on college algebra taken on one campus may transfer to another school, but a course on a specific era of history may not transfer. Colleges usually will not accept classes you took and received a poor grade in either. Most require that you earn a grade of “C” or higher to transfer a class, and some may only accept credits from classes where you earned a “B” grade or higher.

Possible Downside

Switching colleges is not the solution to all your problems. Lynn O’Shaughnessy of U.S. News & World Report points out that not all colleges will transfer all your credits and that some campuses do not have amenities in place for transfer students. If you transfer in the middle of the year, the college may not have a place for you to live. Some colleges also have an extensive waiting list that will leave you waiting months to find out if it has a spot available for you.

Transferring college campuses in the middle of the year is extremely difficult because colleges can only accept a certain number of students every year. You may find that you lose some of your credits during the transfer process too. If you are unhappy with your current school and want to make a change, find out if other campuses will accept you as a transfer student.

See also: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit