3 Key Application Tips for Transfer Students

Transferring to a new college or university has many potential advantages. You could, for instance, find a better program fit, a more desirable location, greater flexibility in study options, more affordable tuition, or some combination of these things.

Before enrolling in a new program, however, you need to navigate the application process. For many transfer students, it can be a bit intimidating.

But it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we’ll share three tips to help make your student transfer application process a success. 

How to Apply as a Transfer Student

Let’s start with an overview of the application process. Since you’re considering transferring, you’ve obviously already been through a college application process once before. Students often wonder, though, whether the transfer application process is different.

Though some programs may have unique requirements, the application process for transfer students at most schools will be very similar to that for standard applicants. You can expect schools to require at least two things:

  1. Transcripts for all the college-level coursework you have completed so far
  2. An application form

Beyond these requirements, it is also common to submit letters of recommendation and a personal essay. Some schools may also request your scores on standardized tests

3 Tips for Student Transfer Application Success

So how can you maximize your chances of submitting a successful application? Here are our top three recommendations:

1. Master the details.

Make sure to follow all the instructions carefully. That might sound obvious, but many applicants fail to pay attention to the details. This can leave a bad impression that may hurt your chances of admission.

Getting the details right includes things like: 

  • Submitting all required parts of your application
  • Getting your application and required pieces in by the requested deadlines
  • Following all the guidelines concerning formatting and related matters

Many students apply to several schools, and keeping all the details straight can be a challenge. Consider creating a spreadsheet or other document that lists all the important requirements and dates for each program.

Pay extra attention to any parts of your application where you are dependent upon others to complete it. For instance, when you request transcripts, you don’t have control over how long it will take your school to supply them. Request things like transcripts and letters of recommendation early to avoid the risk of missing deadlines. 

2. Choose wisely.

Applying to a school is an investment of time and, usually, money as well. You don’t want to waste either by applying to schools that aren’t a good fit.

So what should you pay attention to? Narrow down your choices by considering the following criteria:

  • Program Fit: One of the benefits of being a transfer student is that you probably have a pretty clear idea of what you want. So be picky. Make sure the schools you are considering have a program that allows you to gain the knowledge and skills you need for your career.
  • Entrance Requirements: Look carefully at what a school requires for admission to your program of interest, including things like your cumulative GPA and any prerequisites (courses you need to have already taken to gain admission).
  • Competitiveness: Consider whether you have a realistic chance of being admitted. It’s perfectly okay to apply to a school that feels like a bit of a reach, but make sure you also have schools on your list where you feel confident about gaining admission. 
  • Finances: Find out how your target schools handle financial aid for transfer students. Look for programs that provide the best value by combining quality with affordability.

3. Be specific.

As we noted above, it is common for schools to request a personal essay of some kind that gives them a chance to gain a better understanding of who you are. This can be a significant part of your application.

A common mistake students make is submitting the same essay to every school to which they apply. When you do that, you miss the opportunity to communicate to the admissions committee why the program in particular is of interest to you. 

On the other hand, talking about how the specifics of the program fit with your background and goals demonstrates that you are approaching the process with thoughtfulness and seriousness. 

This doesn’t mean necessarily writing an entirely unique essay for each institution to which you apply. But it does mean customizing it to communicate your particular reasons for excitement about each school.