There is a large number of transfer students in the US each year — more than 1.2 million in 2020 (the last year for which official data is available.) So if you’re thinking about transferring, you’re not alone.
Deciding to transfer is one thing, however; choosing which college or university to transfer to is another. How should you go about it?
To help you in your decision, here are five important transfer student questions to ask. Answering them will help you identify the best options for colleges where you can complete your degree.
1. Do They Have the Right Program for Me?
You may already know which degree you want to earn. Perhaps you have begun your undergraduate studies in history, for instance, and plan to stay on that course to earn a BA in that subject.
On the other hand, transferring can be a great opportunity to consider other options. While it makes sense to study something you’re passionate about, it is also smart to think through your career prospects after you graduate. Ideally, you want a degree that will help you find a job that is satisfying and pays your bills.
Need some ideas? Indeed has a list of 25 college majors that lead to in-demand, interesting careers. You may also discover interesting options as you explore the program offerings of the schools you are considering.
Whether you’re continuing on the same path or taking a new turn, make sure the colleges and universities you are investigating offer the program you want. Don’t forget that the name of a program alone can be misleading; look at the details to make sure you’ll be getting what you expect.
2. Will They Provide the Flexibility I Need?
How do you hope to complete your studies after you transfer? Are you looking for a traditional residential experience or would you rather complete classes online while you work? In either case, you’ll want to make sure you get clear about the details.
If you desire a residential experience, for instance, find out about how campus housing works specifically for transfer students. Don’t assume housing will be available only to find out later that you’ll have to find a place off-campus.
If you are planning to study online, double-check that the specific degree program you’re interested in is available in this format. Many schools offer some of their programs online and others only on campus.
When it comes to online classes, the way these are done varies widely. Here are some things you’ll want to find out:
Will I take one class at a time or several?
How long do classes last?
Are classes asynchronous (meaning you can complete the work at your pace whenever it is convenient) or synchronous (meaning there are scheduled virtual class meeting times you’ll need to attend)?
These details can be important, depending on your plans. If you are intending to finish your degree while working full time, for instance, synchronous classes might not be possible for you.
3. Are My College Credits Transferable?
You’ve already invested a lot of time and money into the courses you’ve completed. Don’t let that go to waste. Most programs will work with you to transfer credits you’ve earned at another institution, but you shouldn’t assume all your prior credits will transfer without issues.
For one thing, courses are structured differently and have different requirements at each school, even when they have the same name. For this reason, colleges typically need to evaluate your coursework before they can tell you for sure which credits will transfer.
You should also know that some colleges are more transfer-friendly than others. One program might accept all of your existing credits while another might only accept some. If you’re a student transferring within Alabama, we’ve put together a guide to transfer credits in the state with more information.
4. What Are the Total Program Costs?
When you’re considering a program, the costs are obviously important. Notice that we wrote total program costs, though, to emphasize this point: you want to make sure you understand the total amount you’ll need to pay to earn your degree in a particular program.
Tuition is probably the most obvious and visible cost and many schools will list this per credit hour. To turn this into a meaningful number, figure out how many credit hours you’ll need to earn your degree and multiply it by the amount per credit hour.
You’ll also want to see if there are additional application or program fees. On top of that, don’t forget about textbooks. Some schools will provide you with an estimate; for others, you may have to do some digging on your own or rely upon average figures.
Adding everything together to get a total cost will make it easier for you to compare programs.
5. Are There Scholarships for Transfer Students?
Figuring out your total program costs is a good starting place. This number may differ quite a bit, however, from what your actual cost of attendance would be. That’s because you may be eligible for different kinds of aid that can lower your bill.
Find out which scholarships the schools you are considering make available for transfer students. You’ll also want to ask about other types of aid including grants (which you don’t have to repay) and loans (which you do).
Since you’ve already been enrolled in college, you should be familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which colleges use to determine aid eligibility. Note, however, that institutions do not all determine aid the same way. Get in touch with someone in the financial aid department to discuss your situation. They should be able to give you a good idea of what you can expect as well as the scholarships for which you can apply.
Weighing Your Options
These five questions aren’t the only ones relevant to your decision, but they are certainly some of the most significant. If you take the time needed to answer them you’re much more likely to end up in a program that will be a great fit for you.
At Athens State, our focus is exclusively on transfer students and we’ve worked to make the process as easy as possible. We have over 50-degree completion programs and generous scholarships available.
If you want to make the most of your existing college credits in a flexible and supportive environment, come see what we have to offer.