Transfer Student Advice

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You know you want to transfer, but what do you do in the meantime? What’s the best way to go about it? We’ve compiled some transfer student advice and tips from some experts in the field for you to keep in mind during the short or long wait until your new journey begins.

Transfer Student Advice from Experts

Dr. Matthew Lynch, Dean of the Syphax School of Education, Psychology, and Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Union University

dr matthew lynch"The best transfer student advice I have is after transferring, meet with an academic adviser right away, and often, to be sure new classes align with your graduation and degree plan."

"Add extracurricular activities slowly, in order to establish a strong academic routine first."

"Walk the campus, even the parts where no classes take place, to get a feel for it and the campus culture."


Elizabeth Venturini, college and career strategist at

elizabeth venturri "If the college allows submission of additional information in the application, actual proof of one’s accomplishments can be of interest to an admissions team. Being able to see the talents and accomplishments of the transfer student makes them seem more like a real person and not just a piece of paper. Applicants should deliver this added material in an easily accessible format, such as a digital portfolio or CD that can be included in the application."


James Merse, college graduate who transferred to multiple colleges. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in three years, lost no credits in the transfers, and switched his major.

james merse"Organization is key: knowing deadlines, application processes, and staying on top of housekeeping can be the difference between transferring and having to take a semester off."

"Fight for your credits: most college courses are reciprocal. Journalism 101 at school A is the same as Journalism 100 at school B. Bring the syllabus, textbook and any relevant coursework to prove the course is similar or of equal value and the department chair will honor the credits and adjust your curriculum."


Donna Ledbetter, author of Graduate School for Working Adults.

donna ledbetter“A student doesn’t always know that he or she will transfer during his or her academic career. Often, the transfer is the result of events like financial issues, academic difficulty, or the influence of family matters on where you receive your education. Students cannot always plan ahead for issues like these, even with advanced preparation. That is why I recommend that all students, and especially transfer students, maintain copies of their academic records and coursework. It sounds simple, but the number of students who actually keep syllabus copies and course packs from previous academic semesters is actually very low. Keeping records beginning in freshman year can give students a leg up in the event of an unexpected transfer and aid with the issuing of academic credit for courses taken upon transfer.”


Jeff Knox, educational counselor.

jeff knox"Always check for the straight forward minimums or recommendations for the objective data (e.g., GPA). If you don’t have it, a successful transfer is highly unlikely."

"Establish relationships within the department of your academic interest at the institution where you want to transfer."

"Make sure you have a solid back-up plan. The question I ask students when they want to transfer: “Is leaving your current school the ultimate goal?” Sometimes students are just checking other options but would still be content staying where they are. Back-up plans can also include internships, co-ops, and study abroad, which allow a student to take a break from the current institution and then return or have a stronger application for transferring later."


Tips for Transfer Students

There are some key points to think about when preparing to transferring schools or once you have gotten there. Keep these tips for transfer students in mind before and after making your final decision, and go to your transfer advisor with any questions or concerns you have.

  • Consider schools you’ve already been accepted to. If you’re still interested in it, contact the school and find out if you need to reapply. In some cases, you will have to reapply, and some schools won't ask you to. But your chances of being accepted as a transfer may be increased because you already know that, at one time, you met that school's standards.

  • Get involved on and off campus. Just like when you applied during senior year in high school, schools want to see that you’re an active participant in organizations both at and around school. Join clubs, sports teams (even intermural), and volunteer for whatever you have the time for.

  • Avoid living off campus at your new school. Because you’re entering your new school behind the social curve of others who already know each other, consider living on-campus. You may make friends and become acclimated to the social culture of the school more quickly if you’re placed right in the middle of where the action is.

  • Once accepted, take a leave of absence from your current school. If you decide you want to go back to your original school, it may be easier to come back from a leave of absence than if you un-enrolled and would then maybe need to re-apply.

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