Monday, March 26, 2018

All About Transferring...

Each year a handful of students contact me about transferring to another school. Each student has a reason for wanting to complete his or her education at an institution other than the one at which he or she started and can include:  

  • Wanting a bigger/smaller student population
  • Seeking a more/less urban/rural/suburban setting
  • Changing area of interest e.g. less pre-professional and more liberal arts oriented or vice-versa
  • Seeking more intellectual engagement
  • Financial reasons- concerned about mounting student debt
  • Finding the workload unmanageable
  • Social reasons: the student is struggling to find his or her people
  • The party scene is too intense or perhaps not intense enough!
  • Hoping to be admitted to the favorite school from which the student received a denial ED
  • Change of area of interest or the original school did not have a certain major or focus
  • Wishing to be closer to or further away from home
There are a couple of considerations to think through when evaluating transfer opportunities. Students should absolutely look up the Common Data Set for each school to which he or she is considering transferring and see the section on transfers. How many apply each year, how many are offered admission and how many attend? That data is readily available and much more useful than marketing materials produced by the college PR squad.

Also, if a student is considering transferring, he or she should have a list including a few to which that student will likely be admitted, not just that elusive dream school. Of course, students do NOT have to attend if admitted as a transfer and can view it as an option. Many students submit transfer applications and end up finding their way at the school at which they began their undergraduate studies. 

The Common Application has made submitting several transfer applications at once a whole lot easier. Most require one essay addressing why the student wants to transfer, and more competitive schools require supplemental essays explaining what future plans might be and may offer a place to upload a resume. Please note that while it isn't wise to advertise that the student is planning on transferring, a transcript and recommendations will be needed so a conversation with the advisor or registrar is required before apps are submitted. Also if a student is planning to apply to transfer for the sophomore year some schools will require high school transcripts and test scores so getting in touch with the counselor or registrar at the high school attended may be necessary too. 

For the main essay, while applicants should be upfront about why they wish to transfer it is not advisable to list all the things wrong with the school at which the student is currently enrolled and rather focus on the opportunities the school to which the student is applying would present. Complaining about lack of adequate partying opportunities, lame Greek life, not receiving a bid for a preferred fraternity or sorority, no school spirit, bad/boring/uninspired faculty, or not making any friends are not good reasons to explain a desire to transfer. It is preferable to express some of these reasons: a desire for more diversity, a preference for a more rural setting or alternatively, a more urban one, a change in major that is not offered at the current school, a smaller/larger student population, or even a more intellectually challenging environment if the student was not a strong student in high school and could not be admitted to said school based on the high school profile. Overall, positivity is a priority. Nobody wants a Debbie (or Danny) Downer on campus! Remember that any institution to which a student is applying as a transfer will not hold it against the student to have changed his or her mind about course of study. It's hard to imagine a 17-year-old being absolutely sure about what it is he or she wants to do career wise so that is an area that can be explored appropriately in an essay. 

Please note that financial aid for transfers varies greatly from school to school so a generous package at your first institution may not be replicated or matched by the school to which you would like to transfer. If you are considering transferring, please feel free to call or email me for some helpful info and tips at 914-282-5701 or