How to Transfer Colleges

After a long, challenging application process, you’ve finally arrived on campus. You’ve selected your classes, signed up for some clubs, and even met a few people that you get along with. But for whatever reason, your college still doesn’t feel like the best fit for you. With one quick Google search for “how to transfer colleges,” you’ve stumbled upon this college transfer guide.

So, if you’re wondering how to transfer colleges, you’ve come to the right place. You may be a community college transfer wondering if the school you have in mind is one of many transfer-friendly colleges. Or, maybe you’ve made up your mind and are looking for some transferring colleges advice.

Transferring colleges can be daunting. In this college transfer guide, we’ll break down the ins and outs of the college transfer process. That way, you can feel prepared to take the leap no matter where you’re transferring from.

In this article on how to transfer colleges, we’ll go over:

  • What are good reasons to transfer colleges?
  • Navigating transfer applications
  • GPA requirements for transfer applications
  • Transferring to elite colleges (e.g. Harvard, Cornell, Stanford)
  • What universities look for in a transfer student, and much more!

For answers to all these questions and tips on how to transfer colleges, keep reading our college transfer guide.

Can I transfer from one university to another?

transfer colleges

If you want to know how to transfer colleges, you might have questions. Firstly, you may wonder, can I even transfer from one university to another? Simple answer: yes!

Most students who transfer colleges will do so after one or two years at their initial institution. After this point, it becomes more difficult to transfer colleges. Some credits might not transfer, and you may not be able to complete a degree at a school with different requirements within four years. In fact, many schools do not accept applications from students who have already completed two full years of postsecondary education. 

Understanding the college transfer process

The transfer process will look different at different schools. So, it’s important to do your research on the school’s policy before moving forward with transferring colleges. For instance, some schools might have different guidelines on when during the year you can transfer. Others may have certain GPA or credit requirements.

Additionally, some schools have a less selective process than others. These schools are considered more transfer friendly colleges. Some colleges, like UC Davis, have a more holistic and selective process for first year applicants than they do for transfer students. At these colleges, meeting the minimum academic requirements is the most important step in the transfer process.

Transferring from a community college

If you’re wondering, “how can I transfer to a four-year public university from a community college?” you’re not alone. Many students from community colleges transfer to four-year public universities.

If you’re planning on being a community college transfer, see if your college has a dedicated transfer center. Many community colleges have advisors who can help you through the process to transfer colleges. These advisors can help you find transfer friendly colleges and complete your application for transfer from one college to another. 

Other ways to transfer colleges

Students at community colleges aren’t the only ones who transfer colleges. If you’re thinking of transferring colleges simply because you’re unhappy at your original institution, that’s okay!

Remember, there are many reasons why you might want to transfer colleges. Maybe the courses offered aren’t specialized enough for your intended career path. Or, maybe the campus social life is too quiet or too focused on greek life. Maybe you even won the lottery and now want to attend one of the most expensive colleges in the U.S.! 

There are countless reasons you may be considering transferring. In the next section of our college transfer guide, let’s talk about some good reasons to transfer colleges. 

What are good reasons to transfer colleges?

Maybe your worry isn’t “how to transfer colleges” but “should I transfer colleges,” While looking for transferring colleges advice, remember it’s a personal decision, and ultimately that decision is up to you. If you aren’t sure what to do, keep reading for some insight as to why some students choose to transfer.

There are many reasons why students might want to transfer colleges. Initially attending a community college and wanting to transfer to a four-year public university. Dissatisfaction with the classes offered for your college major. Your extracurriculars for college, the social setting, financial reasons—the list goes on. Even as early as the first semester, you might know that you want to transfer colleges.

Your school doesn’t serve your academic interests

One reason to transfer colleges is that your current college doesn’t have the programs you need for your chosen major. Say your college major is mechanical engineering, and you’ve dreamed of 3D printing your own devices. However, the university you’re attending doesn’t have a 3D printer. 

Or, let’s say you want to study a less common college major such as Russian affairs. Like Derrick Staten, you might consider transferring to Stanford to take advantage of their unique resources. The Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum, the Hoover Archives, and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. You won’t find resources like these at every school!

If you find the department for your chosen college major doesn’t meet your needs, don’t panic. It may just mean it’s time to consider transferring colleges. 

Your interests have shifted

Maybe the reason you’re thinking “should I transfer colleges?” is because your interests have changed or developed. If you applied undecided, you may realize you want to pursue a degree not offered by your college.

Another reason can be the type of degree you want to pursue. Many community colleges are only two years, and you will graduate with an Associate’s Degree rather than a Bachelor’s. If you want a Bachelor’s Degree, you may need to become a community college transfer.

Your school isn’t the right fit

Many students consider transferring colleges simply because they feel the college they selected isn’t the best fit for them. Maybe you only applied to schools in the northeast because you had a great summer experience there. Then, you learn that the constant deluge of rain, sleet, snow, and cloudy days seriously dampens your mood. Or, maybe you and all your friends got into the same liberal arts college. Then, once you got to campus, you drifted apart and realized you only attended that school because of peer pressure.

If you feel a bit out of place, just remember to give your first college a fair chance. Many students feel homesick during the first semester and don’t make friends immediately. Those feelings alone are normal and may not be reason enough to embark on the difficult process of transferring colleges. 

Your financial situation has changed

Students also may be wondering how to transfer colleges for financial reasons. Your financial situation could have changed at home, or the college could have made changes to your financial aid package. If so, you might consider transferring to a less expensive college. That way, you can still get a stellar education while paying a lower tuition cost.

If you’re transferring colleges for financial reasons, always make sure to read the financial aid policies of the institution you’re looking to transfer to. (If you’re generally stressed about how to pay for college, we have resources to help you navigate the funding process).

Is it a good idea to transfer colleges?

how to transfer colleges

We’ve covered the basics of how to transfer colleges. However, you might still be wondering whether it’s a good idea for you.

For some students, transferring colleges can ensure you graduate from a college that serves your needs. If the reasons to transfer colleges listed above resonate with you, that might mean that you should transfer.

Don’t focus on prestige

However, some students just want to transfer colleges to attend a more prestigious school, like Harvard or another Ivy. If you are applying to Harvard or Yale as a transfer, make sure to think hard about whether you are transferring colleges for reasons of prestige alone.

Transferring colleges is a lot of work: completing transfer applications is essentially like completing college applications again. Don’t let prestige or rankings influence you into transferring. The most important factor in deciding whether to transfer colleges is whether your college is the best fit for you!

Even if transferring ends up being the best choice for you, there are still challenges within the college transfer process. Read the next section of our college transfer guide to learn more about whether it’s hard to transfer universities. 

Is it hard to transfer universities?

You’ve learned a bit more about how to transfer colleges. But, you might still be wondering: how hard is it to transfer colleges? 

Transfer processes differ a lot from institution to institution. So, the process might be more difficult depending on where you decide to transfer to. However, you’ve navigated college applications once, so this is a challenge you can definitely handle!

Understanding transfer acceptance rates

Overall, there is a slightly lower average acceptance rate for transfer students than there is for first-time freshmen. Most Ivies also have significantly lower acceptance rates for transfer students than they do for first-time students. Notable exceptions to this include Cornell, Dartmouth, and Columbia.

While some prestigious schools like Cornell and Columbia might be considered transfer friendly colleges, others will be more selective. For a school like Harvard, the transfer acceptance rate is even lower than their already low first-year acceptance rate. If you’re trying to be a Harvard transfer, you’re up against a 0.8% acceptance rate. If you dream of being a Stanford transfer, like Derrick Staten, know the Stanford transfer acceptance rate is 0.02%.

Do your research

Make sure you do your research on how to transfer colleges. To navigate the process to transfer colleges, you must stay organized and get started as soon as you can. This means being aware of the deadlines, requirements, and policies of your school and the school you wish to transfer to. Remember that you’ll be applying to transfer colleges while continuing to take classes. Keeping up with your workload can be a challenge, so be sure to manage your time wisely.

Lastly, transferring colleges can potentially be socially stressful. Not everyone will necessarily be supportive of your decision to transfer colleges. You might have to deal with criticism from your family and peers as you choose the right path for you. People might offer you unsolicited transferring colleges advice, but don’t let others’ opinions discourage you. So, be sure you fully understand how to transfer colleges and have considered all your options. Then, if you’re sure you want to transfer colleges, you can be confident as you start the transfer process. 

Now let’s look at more specific transferring colleges advice—how to complete your transfer application.

What is a transfer application?

A key part of how to transfer colleges is understanding the transfer application. The transfer application is an application you’ll complete in order to transfer colleges. 

Just like with regular college applications, many transfer applications are done through the Common App. However, not all colleges use the Common App. Rather, some colleges will ask that you complete your transfer application on a separate portal.

Different transfer applications will have different requirements. Generally, your application for transfer from one college to another will request some or all of the following materials listed below.

General Transfer Application Requirements

  1. Common or Coalition Application
  2. Writing supplement 
  3. SAT/ACT scores
  4. College/Registrar/Dean’s Report
  5. Two recommendations from college instructors
  6. Official college transcript
  7. Official high school transcript
  8. Application fee

Make sure to double-check the requirements for each college on your list. The UCLA transfer application might have different requirements than a Stanford transfer application. A Harvard transfer might embark on a different process than a Rice University transfer.

Beyond the application, different universities require different college transfer credits. That means some credits might not carry over from your first school to your transfer school. This varies from school to school, so be thorough in your research on your school’s particular requirements.

The transfer essay

A key difference from your first set of college applications will be your essay. Your college transfer essay will likely touch on topics and experiences not covered in your previous essays.

For example, in your college transfer essay, you might be asked to write about your experience in college so far. Additionally, you will almost certainly need to state your reasons for transferring colleges. Remember, your college transfer essay is a chance to express yourself and let the admissions committee get to know you. So, make sure that you spend enough time brainstorming and writing your essay.

Highlight your accomplishments in college

When completing your college transfer application, think of it as your previous college applications plus your college experience so far. For example, you should balance your college resume with your high school accolades.

Your college resume should include your college GPA, college major, and any awards or leadership positions you’ve had at college. In addition to your college resume, you’ll likely need letters of recommendation from college professors instead of high school teachers. 

How do college transfers work?

how to transfer colleges

In this section, we’ll outline in detail how to transfer colleges in five steps:

  1. Researching colleges.
  2. Building your college list
  3. Confirming your credit transfers
  4. Completing your application
  5. Investigating financial aid

1. Researching colleges

The first step in the process to transfer colleges is research. Without doing research on schools, you will not adequately know how to transfer colleges.

Look up each college and its transfer application requirements. Keep in mind all of the deadlines, as these will often be different for transfer students than first-year applicants. Additionally, investigate the resources available for transfer students: does the school offer orientation programs for transfer students? Do transfer students receive housing like first-years? What does the financial aid process look like? (Keep in mind that your financial aid package will not automatically apply at your new school). Some universities might even require a college application letter.

Research is one of the most important steps in understanding how to transfer colleges. So, make sure you spend time learning about different transfer friendly colleges.

2. Building a college list

The next step in understanding how to transfer colleges is to build a transfer college list.

In your senior year of high school, you likely applied to 10+ colleges. However, as a transfer student, you should aim for a more limited list. Not only should you feel confident you would like to attend every school on your list; you should also feel confident you’d like to attend it more than your current college.

3. Double-check your credit transfers

To know how to transfer colleges, you need to know how many credits you have earned at your first institution. Then, you need to check whether the school you wish to transfer to will accept your credits.

Look at which college transfer credits will apply to your target institutions. Different schools have different policies around college transfer credits, so be discerning as you research. College transfer credits might also influence the admissions requirements at different schools. 

4. Complete your college transfer application

Now, here’s the biggest step in how to transfer colleges: completing your application. To understand how to transfer colleges and how to fill out your transfer application, visit each school’s admissions website.

In many cases, the transfer application will be available through the Common App. However, this is not always true. A notable exception to this standard is the UCs. If you’re filling out a UC transfer application, you go through the UC’s specific transfer application process. This applies whether it’s a UCLA transfer application or a UC Berkeley transfer application. Just like for first-year students, the UC transfer application does not take place on the Common App, but through UC Apply.

Remember the application requirements for your transfer application will be different from those of your college applications. Your college transfer essay will likely be different from your initial college essay. To write a strong college transfer essay, share your experience and the reasons you want to transfer colleges. Your college GPA will be important, as will a college resume that explains your college major and extracurriculars for college. You will also likely need a recommendation from a university professor. 

5. Understand financial aid

Lastly, to fully answer “should I transfer colleges,” you will need to investigate financial aid.

You’ve learned how to transfer colleges and have done your research. Then, you’ve figured out your college transfer credits. You’ve also written your college transfer essay. Finally, you’ve completed and submitted your transfer application. Now, you might just get an acceptance! When you receive your admissions letter, be sure to compare your financial aid package to your current one. In some cases, you could potentially negotiate your aid package to better meet your needs.

How to transfer colleges mid year

When trying to decide “should I transfer colleges,” a deciding factor might be when you can transfer colleges. In this section, we’ll help you learn how to transfer colleges mid-year. 

Not all colleges will permit you to transfer mid-year, though processes vary by school. For example, the Harvard transfer requirements state that you must have completed at least one full year of college and not more than two years. This is a pretty small window, so start doing your research on how to transfer colleges as soon as possible!

Transfer applicants to Harvard are only eligible to begin school in the fall semester. So, if your dream school is Harvard, double-check that your transfer schedule aligns with their requirements. However, if you’re set on transferring mid-year, look into an institution like Rice. Rice University transfer students are eligible to start in the spring.

The mid year transfer process

In general, transferring colleges mid-year will follow the same process as transferring for a fall start. The deadlines will likely differ (as the start times do). Another risk you take with attempting to transfer mid-year is your college transfer credits. If you transfer mid-year, your college transfer credits from the first half of the year might not transfer over. Additionally, you might not be able to get a partial refund on your full year’s tuition at your initial university.

If you are still asking yourself “should I transfer colleges mid-year,” make sure to consider all of these logistics. College transfer credits, school requirements, and funding are a significant part of the college transfer process. Understanding how to transfer colleges mid-year will be crucial to ensuring that your transfer process goes as smoothly as possible. 

What is a good GPA for transferring?

how to transfer colleges

If you’re asking yourself, “should I transfer colleges?,” you might also be wondering “what’s a good GPA for transferring colleges?” There’s no universally good GPA to have as a transfer applicant. However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a part of your how to transfer college strategy. Generally, students should aim for a GPA that meets or exceeds the average at the school they’re applying to. 

For example, the average GPA of admitted students who completed a 2022 UCLA transfer application was above 3.5. In fact, the academic requirements for students who want to submit a UCLA transfer application are quite high. Transfer applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.2 or higher in their transferable courses. 

The Rice University transfer requirements are similar. Applicants must have at least a 3.2 GPA to be considered for admission. In the majority of cases, students had a GPA well above Rice’s minimum requirement. Most students who were admitted into the Rice University transfer program had a GPA of 3.5 or higher. 

Transferring with a lower GPA

If your GPA is lower than 3.5, don’t give up yet! Other schools have less rigorous GPA requirements. The UC transfer application states that you must have at least a 2.4 GPA in UC-transferable courses. However, some majors might require a higher GPA in order to be considered for admission. 

When you transfer colleges, your college GPA matters far more than your high school grades. If you have already decided to transfer colleges, it’s important to keep your grades up. You’ll need to do well academically and earn as high a GPA as possible to make your application stand out.

Keeping your grades high

In other words, don’t let the transfer application process keep you from getting high grades in your current classes. You should focus on performing well academically within your college major as well as in your other college courses. Doing so is a key step of your overall “how to transfer colleges” strategy. 

In addition to your GPA, there are other factors to consider as you figure out how to transfer colleges. No matter your reason for transferring colleges or what school you want to transfer to, remember that your grades are important. You’ll need to do well academically to give yourself the best shot at receiving an acceptance as a transfer student.

Transferring to Elite Colleges

As you are researching how to transfer colleges, you might question what kind of schools you could transfer to. Specifically, you may be wondering if you are able to transfer to elite colleges, like Ivy League universities. The short answer is: it is possible to transfer colleges to an elite college. However, it is often a difficult process to submit an application for transfer from one college to another.

Lower acceptance rates

Transfer acceptance rates tend to be even lower at top colleges than they are for first-year students. This means that successfully navigating the transfer application process to an elite college is incredibly difficult. To give you a sense of the odds—transfer acceptance rates are usually less than 5%. 

Overall, there are very few spots available at elite colleges for transfer students. If you are going to submit an application for transfer from one college to another, you’ll want to do all you can to stand out.

Eligibility limitations

Additionally, not all institutions will give you the best transfer odds. At many elite colleges, students don’t generally transfer from a community college or professional school. In other words, elite schools tend to accept transfer students from liberal arts institutions with a similar curriculum. Unfortunately, this means they are not likely to accept a community college transfer student. 

However, this is not the case at all top colleges and elite institutions. For example, 92% of students admitted through their UC transfer application come from a California community college. 

If you answered yes to the question “should I transfer colleges?”, make sure you are ready to face some hurdles. This is especially true if your goal is to transfer to an elite college. Apart from elite institutions, there are other transfer friendly colleges out there that can still help you reach your goals.

What do universities look for in a transfer student?

As you prepare your “how to transfer colleges” plan, you’ll want to know what universities look for in transfer applications. Additionally, you’ll want to consider how your transfer applications will differ from regular college applications.

In many ways, schools look for the same core characteristics in transfer students that they look for in incoming freshmen. However, there’s one key difference. When you’re starting the transfer application process and applying as a transfer student, the focus isn’t on your high school achievements. Your grades and involvement in college will matter far more. 

Stay engaged on campus

This means that you should make an effort to engage in extracurriculars during your first year of college. This is important no matter when you decide you want to transfer. In other words, your extracurriculars for college will play an important role as you prepare to transfer colleges. 

Furthermore, you should also invest in your relationships with your instructors. This way, they can write you personalized recommendations that will strengthen your transfer application. 

Overall, colleges want to see that you would be a strong contributor to campus life. They also want to know that you would succeed academically if admitted. This is especially true if you are considering transferring colleges to an elite institution or switching your college major. 

Keep your GPA up

Aside from your extracurriculars for college, your college GPA is key. Make sure your freshman-year courses reflect your academic strengths. Even if you had high grades in high school, your college GPA will still matter more in your transfer application. 

However, some students who want to transfer haven’t performed well academically or have not actively participated in extracurriculars at their current college. If this sounds like you, you might need to re-evaluate your answer to the “should I transfer colleges?” question. And that’s okay! Use this college transfer guide to determine if your profile matches what universities are looking for in a transfer student. 

If you are set on transferring, be sure to do your research on whatever school you want to apply to. Then, you’ll want to strengthen your “how to transfer colleges” strategy early in the process. That way, your personal college transfer guide is set up to maximize your chances of admission. 

Is it easier to get into college as a transfer?

The process of transferring colleges may seem fairly similar to the process of first-year college applications. Now, let’s examine if it is easier to get into college as a transfer student.

In a word, no. It is not easier to get into college as a transfer. According to NACAC, the average transfer student acceptance rate is lower than the average first-year acceptance rate. The average is about 5% lower among U.S. universities. This means that your chances of being admitted are lower than if you had applied as a first-year applicant. 

Additionally, top schools tend to have high retention rates. This means that most students admitted as freshmen continue on to their sophomore year. With limited places available, this leaves little room for transfer students in the transferring colleges process. 

However, don’t let these statistics discourage you from following your “how to transfer colleges” plan. If you’ve answered yes to the “should I transfer colleges” question, there are ways to successfully navigate the transfer process. We’ll elaborate on how to transfer colleges successfully later in this college transfer guide. 

Does Harvard accept transfer students?

transfer college

So, you answered yes to the “should I transfer colleges” question. Now, you are ready to learn more about how to transfer colleges to elite institutions, like Harvard. 

Your first question might be, does Harvard accept transfer students? The answer is yes, Harvard does accept transfer students. 

The Harvard transfer program accepts an average of 12 students each fall. As we mentioned above, the Harvard transfer program is looking for students that will integrate easily into the college. At such a rigorous institution, they’re especially looking for students who will perform well academically.

What Harvard looks for

When evaluating transfer students for admission, the Harvard transfer program is looking at the following characteristics

  • A clear and defined academic reason for transferring colleges
  • A demonstrated record of achievement at your current college 
  • Strong recommendations from faculty members

There are other eligibility requirements you must meet in order to submit a transfer application to Harvard. First, you must have completed at least one continuous academic year in a full-time degree program. However, you cannot have completed more than two years. If you have completed more than two continuous academic years at your current school, you are not eligible to transfer. 

Second, your current institution must offer a liberal arts curriculum similar to that of Harvard. Students who are trying to transfer colleges from certain programs will not qualify to submit a  Harvard transfer application. These types of programs may include vocational, professional, online, technical, or performance programs.

Now, let’s say you meet the criteria for transferring colleges to Harvard. Next, you’ll want to understand what the admissions office is looking for in a successful transfer application. 

Building a strong Harvard transfer application

The Harvard admissions committee looks for evidence of achievement in your chosen program of study or college major. This means you need to have strong grades, test scores (if applicable), and recommendation letters included with your transfer application. Harvard will also consider other, non-academic factors. These include extracurricular involvements and talents as well as a candidate’s leadership abilities, intellectual curiosity, and creativity. 

Harvard accepts transfer students for the fall semester only. So, students cannot apply to begin taking courses in the spring. The transfer application opens in the fall and the deadline to submit all application materials is March 1. Candidates are then notified of their admission decision in June.  

In order to be considered for admission, transfer students must provide the following materials to the Harvard admissions committee.

Harvard Transfer Requirements 

Students that are successful at transferring colleges to Harvard receive special perks. These offerings are Harvard-specific, and you may not find them at all transfer friendly colleges. 

For example, Harvard provides a dedicated transfer advisor to all incoming transfer students. They also participate in an orientation program targeted toward transfer students. These are important benefits to consider as you conduct your “how to transfer colleges” research. 

According to the 2021-2022 Common Data Set, the Harvard acceptance rate for transfer students was just .8%. If you are hoping to transfer colleges to an elite institution like Harvard, you’ll need a game plan. We recommend crafting a strong transfer application, college transfer essay, and college resume to stand out from the crowd. 

Does Cornell accept transfer students?

how to transfer colleges

Now that we know more about how to transfer colleges, you might be curious about other elite institutions. Like Harvard, the Cornell transfer program does accept transfer students. In fact, unlike some other Ivies, the Cornell transfer program is fairly large. So, they make a particular point to welcome transfer students, making them one of the more transfer friendly colleges. 

Cornell Transfer Application Requirements

  • The Transfer Common Application
  • Academic evaluation
  • College report 
  • Mid-term report
  • Cornell University college transfer essay and writing supplement
  • Official high school and college transcripts 
  • $80 application fee
  • Other items as required per undergraduate college or school

The Cornell transfer program accepts between 500-600 transfer students each fall and spring semester. Their acceptance rate for transfer students is 15.7% – higher than their acceptance rate for freshman applicants. 

Although they have a high transfer acceptance rate, the Cornell transfer process is still challenging. To be considered for admission, students must provide the application materials listed above.

Next, let’s take a look at another school you may be considering if you’re thinking about how to transfer colleges.

Is Stanford hard to transfer into?

transfer colleges

In short, yes. Like many elite schools, Stanford is difficult to transfer into. The Stanford transfer application process itself is fairly straightforward, but the competition is fierce. 

There are two main requirements to apply for transfer admission to Stanford. Applications are open to students who earned a high school diploma and have completed coursework at an accredited degree-granting institution. 

Credit transfers at Stanford

Unlike Harvard, the Stanford transfer program does consider students who have completed college credits in an associate’s program. In other words, you can be a community college transfer and apply for admission to the Stanford transfer program. 

College transfer credits are reviewed by the Office of the Registrar. The Stanford transfer program does not have a specific transfer pathway with any other college or institution. However, it is not guaranteed that all your college transfer credits will be accepted. 

In order to receive your college transfer credits, you must meet the following conditions

  • Course(s) must be completed at an accredited institution
  • Course(s) must be considerably similar to courses offered at Stanford 
  • A grade of C- or better is earned for each course
  • Previous coursework is not duplicated or overlapped

If you meet the Stanford transfer eligibility requirements, you can submit a Stanford transfer application to the admissions committee. You’ll need to include the following components in your Stanford transfer application: 

Stanford transfer requirements

  • Common Application 
  • $90 fee
  • ACT or SAT scores
  • Official high school transcript 
  • Official college transcript
  • College report
  • Two letters of recommendation from academic instructors

The deadline to submit a Stanford transfer application is March 15. Candidates will be notified of their admission decision by mid-May. 

If you are hoping to transfer colleges to Stanford, you’ll also need to consider the Stanford transfer acceptance rate in your “how to transfer colleges” strategy. In general, the Stanford transfer acceptance rate is far lower than the first-year acceptance rate.  Given the low Stanford transfer acceptance rate, you’ll want to do all you can to make your transfer application stand out. 

How to Transfer Colleges – 5 Takeaways

We hope our guide on how to transfer colleges helped illuminate the transfer process. As you continue your how to transfer colleges research, keep these five key takeaways for transferring colleges in mind: 

1. Do your research

Understanding the process of how to transfer colleges is not easy. Each school will have their own policies and procedures on how to transfer colleges. So, it’s important to do your research on the transfer process if you are hoping to transfer colleges. You’ll need to know about the transfer application requirements as well as all deadlines. (Remember, these will be different for transfer students than for other first-year applicants). 

There are some more transfer friendly colleges than others. As with any first-time college list, you should compare these as you build your transfer college list. Pay attention to things like transfer acceptance rates and how a school handles college transfer credits. Additionally, take note of policies regarding your current institution.

Choose a few colleges that fit your goals. As you research how to transfer colleges, make sure your potential new college offers your ideal college major. You’ll also want to make sure they have support procedures in place to help you successfully transfer colleges. 

Remember, the more you know about how to transfer colleges, the easier the process will be!

2. Set realistic goals

Transferring colleges takes a lot of work since you are essentially beginning the entire college application process over again. Additionally, many of the transfer application deadlines are during the academic year. So, you’ll need to balance your full-time coursework with transfer college applications. 

To make your transfer process as simple as possible, build a timeline. Breaking down your tasks into realistic goals will help you stay organized throughout the transferring colleges process. 

This should be one of the first things you tackle in your “how to transfer colleges” strategy. Start your transfer college applications early and use our transferring colleges advice to inform your goals. 

3. Keep your college grades up

As we mentioned above, admissions committees will evaluate you on the grades you earn in college. If you know you want to transfer colleges, be sure to keep your college grades up.

This might be the most important piece of transferring colleges advice in this college transfer guide. Earning high college grades can help you stand out in the transfer application process. Additionally, they prove to your future institution that you are able to handle the rigor of their academic program. 

4. Stay engaged on campus

Another important step in your “how to transfer colleges” strategy is to stay engaged on campus. In other words, you need to build up your college resume for your transfer application. This means that you should find and participate in student activities, organizations, or internships that interest you. These activities may be considered even more valuable if they relate to your college major. 

Just like your first-year college applications, your transfer application will ask you to list the extracurriculars you participated in. Staying engaged on campus will ensure that you have plenty of experience to reference on your college resume—even if your current college isn’t your dream school. 

5. Consider financial aid

The last key takeaway in your “how to transfer colleges” plan is to consider financial aid. This is an important step to take before you transfer colleges. Keep in mind, your current financial aid package will not automatically apply to your new institution. So, it’s important to review all financial aid policies early in the transfer process. 

Once you receive your admission decision (but before you finally transfer colleges) you should compare your financial aid packages. How does the cost of attending your potential new college compare to your current tuition costs? Will you be paying more per year if you transfer colleges? Can you afford to transfer colleges at this time?

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate your financial aid package. However, if you are unable to negotiate, you should be ready and able to pay additional tuition costs if necessary. If you are not financially prepared to transfer colleges right now, don’t worry. You may just need to do some more research on which colleges you can afford. 

How to Transfer Colleges- Final thoughts

As you navigate how to transfer colleges, keep this advice in mind. Although the process to transfer colleges is difficult, it is not impossible! You can maximize your chances of transfer admission by following the transferring colleges advice listed in this college transfer guide. 

We hope our college transfer guide provided you with some actionable steps to incorporate into your “how to transfer colleges” strategy.  If you have more questions about how to transfer colleges, is here to help. We can provide you with one-on-one assistance as you navigate the transfer application and admissions process, as well as give you personalized transferring colleges advice to get you to your dream school.

transfer colleges

This guide to how to transfer colleges was written by advisor Rachel Kahn and senior advisor Claire Babbs. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.