Whether you started your higher education at a community college or at a four-year school that you no longer consider a good fit, transferring to another institution is always an option.
Many students begin at a community college with an intent to transfer later to a four-year institution. Several community colleges across the country have articulation agreements with public universities, and sometimes private institutions, to make the transfer process more seamless than in decades past so you don't lose as many, if any, credits when you transfer.
Another scenario is that you started at your chosen four-year institution and you have decided it was not the best college choice for you after all. Maybe the location or campus environment isn't too your liking or you have decided on a major that your current college does not offer so you look into transferring to another college.
Transferring does not have to be overwhelming, but you do need to take time to research the best institutions where you might consider transferring.
“If you made a mistake with your initial choice, this is your chance at a 'do-over,'" explains Laurie Kopp Weingarten, co-founder and director of One-Stop College Counseling in Marlboro, N.J. “It's important that you don't rush to judgement with your first school — students should be certain that it isn't the correct school before considering transferring. Then the applicant needs to complete a thorough search to find colleges they like, and articulate in the application why they are looking to transfer and how the new college will meet their goals."
Some institutions require an admission essay for transfer students. If you are transferring from another four-year institution, you'll want to explain why you want to transfer to that school and why it's a better fit for your education and career goals than your current college.
“Without trashing the current school, discuss why it no longer meets your needs," says Weingarten.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself about your current institution before writing a transfer admission essay:
- Does it not offer your major?
- Are the classes too big?
- Are there too many commuters?
- Did you misunderstand something when you selected your school?
- Has your personal situation changed where you now need to attend a school located somewhere else geographically?
“Admissions should gain a clear understanding of why you believe you need to transfer. Be specific," says Weingarten. “Describe what you hope to gain by transferring: How will this new college help you succeed? What clubs/activities at this new school will help you achieve your other goals? You can list particular classes you would like to enroll in or professors you hope will mentor you."
Jason Miller, adult programs coordinator for College Now Greater Cleveland, advises students to watch the Ted Talk on YouTube entitled “Community College to Harvard." Miller also recommends that students who want to transfer not to forget about scholarship opportunities for transfer students.
“Most schools require 30 college credits and a 3.0 GPA for transfer scholarships; a 3.5 would increase your opportunities -- and keep in mind that remedial courses don't count," says Miller.
If you attend a community college, find out if there a specific articulation agreement between the community college and other four-year institutions to ensure a seamless transfer. Some agreements even have guaranteed admission to certain institutions if certain requirements are met (often involving a minimum GPA requirement). For example, Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia offers articulation agreements to help ensure the classes students take will transfer to a college or university as well as Guaranteed Admission Agreements (GAA) that secure a student's entrance into more than 40 area colleges and universities when they meet the agreement requirements.
This year, transferring has gotten easier for millions of students. In August 2018, The Common Application, a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity and integrity in the college admission process, launched a new transfer application to improve the transfer process. More than 650 colleges and universities are offering the new Common App for transfer to improve the pathways and outcomes for bachelor's degree seekers hoping to transfer from one four-year college to another four-year institution, those who want to transfer from a community college to a four-year institution, as well as active military members and veterans, online learners and adults returning to school to complete their degree.
So, no matter why you want to transfer, do your research about target schools, keep your grades up to improve your chance of admission and apply with the same diligence that you did when you first started the college admission process as a high school student.
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