How to Transfer Colleges

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Even if you’ve decided to make this big change, you may feel a little lost on how to transfer colleges. Maybe you’re at a two-year school and you want to transition to a four-year college. Maybe you decided on a major and there’s another school that has a better, more extensive program for it. No matter why you’ve made the decision, we’ll give you some information on how to transfer schools.

transfer college requirementsCollege Transfer Requirements

Every school’s college transfer requirements will be different. That being said, here is a typical process for how to transfer schools:

  1. Meet with your academic advisor at your current school to discuss your transfer goals and how to transfer schools. Transferring, especially if it requires relocating, can be a drastic transition for you. Make sure it makes academic and financial sense.
  2. Fill out a transfer application from the school you want to attend. It may not be the same kind of application that incoming first-year students use. If you have trouble finding the right application, email or call the school’s admissions office. That’s what they’re there for.
  3. Get good grades if you are planning on transferring. College credit transfers will vary depending on the school you’re applying to, but most schools expect you to have earned a minimum amount of credits in order to transfer. Some schools may also have a minimum GPA (grade point average) requirement, so be sure you are performing well at your current school, even if you have your sights set on leaving.
  4. Contact the appropriate department—for example, the science department if you’re looking to major in Biology—to find out if you are able to send your transcript(s) for review to determine how many and which credits will transfer to your new program.
  5. Obtain letters of recommendation from your college professors. Ask your professors about this early so they have enough time to complete and submit them on your behalf. You may be able to submit high school letters of recommendation, but the school you’re applying to will want to hear from professors you’ve most recently studied in at the college level.
  6. Get things done on time. Be sure to request and organize all of your materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, financial aid statement, etc.) well before the deadline to apply for transfer. There’s nothing like a late application to make a school think twice about your academic capabilities.

The process of how to transfer colleges will be different for every student, but whether or not and how credits transfer is mandated by different agreements. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), these are called articulation agreements.

Articulation Agreements: These are formal arrangements between two or more colleges and universities that indicate how courses, major requirements, and/or a general education plan transfer from one institution to another. Types include:

  • Statewide articulation agreements (apply to all public 2-year and 4-year institutions within a particular state)

  • General education core curriculum, or known as Core-to-Core; Lower-Division Core (assurances among colleges and/or within a state that general education courses will widely transfer across institutions)

  • Program articulation agreements for credits earned toward a specific degree

  • Individual articulation agreements between two colleges.

  • Guaranteed admission agreements

Common Course Numbering System: This college credit transfer system ensures that equivalent courses at different institutions have the same title, prefix, and number, and that all such equivalent courses will be accepted in a student’s transfer as though the courses had been taken at the new school.

Transfer Advisors (Faculty, Agents): These advisors instruct student on a one-on-one level on transfers, preparing application forms, finding out about financial resources available for transfer, make recommendations on academic programs, arrange tours, or seek out academic mentors for students in the transfer process. Ask your academic advisor if s/he can act as your transfer advisor or whether there are transfer advisors available at your school.

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