So you've attended a community college for a few years and are ready to transfer to a larger university or college. Or you're simply not too happy where you're currently at. No matter where you are in the process there's a lot to do and remember.
Here's how you can help yourself stand out from the pack and get all your materials in, from someone who currently works in college admissions.
1. Give complete and accurate information.
It's vital that your transfer information is comprehensive. If you've used a different last name in the past make sure to list that on the application. You don't want your application to be delayed, which will happen if the admissions processors can't find your name in the system.
Be sure you've listed every college you've ever attended, even if you withdrew. Admissions teams use a national database to verify what colleges you've attended. Failing to send in all the necessary documents will only delay your application.
2. Don't throw your old school under the bus, even if it really did suck.
This kind of stuff usually leads to a denial. Even if you had a bad experience, you don't want to blame your past college for all your mistakes or struggles. Instead, focus on speaking how on the environment at the college you're applying to is a better fit for you. Or talk about what you learned from your mistakes during a rough semester and how you can apply those lessons to excel at the next school.
If you only talk about how your last school sucked and that's why you weren't successful there, that doesn't really reflect well on you.
3. Get your official transcripts sent in.
The specific requirements will vary by college, but most will need your official transcripts from EVERY college you've attended in order to evaluate what credits you will have when you transfer. This generally determines whether you will be classified as a freshman, sophomore, or junior. Additionally, colleges want to see what classes you've taken and your grades because this helps them understand your potential for academic success.
Research Tool: Check out www.collegetransfer.net to simplify this research process. It's an amazing website which helps students easily navigate their options in transferring based on your exact situation, goals and experience.
4. Be organized and keep track of deadlines.
Many universities will have specific deadlines for application submission and financial aid/scholarships. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to be eligible for scholarships and honors programs, if applicable. Additionally, while smaller or private colleges generally can be a little more flexible, large universities won't wait for you.
5. Find out what requirements exist for high school records and ACT/SAT scores.
Every college has different requirements when it comes to your high school grades and scores. Some always require these documents, so if that's the case, go ahead and order your official reports and transcript. If your records are old, it could be a more complicated or expensive process to obtain them, so order them as soon as possible.
Other colleges may only need these records if you don't have enough college credit to fully show what you are like as a student. If that's the case, make sure to follow up and find out when you would need to submit them.
6. If you have an admissions counselor, be responsive and stay in touch.
Many schools provide you with an admissions counselor you can help answer your questions. Use this resource, that's their job!!
However, don't pester them for decisions. Most colleges have to keep this information secret until a specific "release" date and constantly calling and badgering them about the status of your application isn't going to make you look good.
7. Visit campus.
When you can, tour campus or attend events designed for transfer students and applicants. You'll get to know staff and can leave a good impression. Additionally, it shows you're invested and interested to the school. You'll be able to see if you truly like the environment on campus.
8. Make a plan.
Transferring can be stressful as you're trying to leave one college and enter another. Once you're admitted, make sure to follow the necessary steps to withdraw successfully from your current school.
There may be a price difference between your current college and the one you plan on transferring to, but this is only one piece of the equation. Other expenses to plan for are moving expenses, differences in cost of living between locations, enrollment fees, and application and transfer credit fees. In addition to this, students may face having to retake certain credits if they are not able to transfer them.
Know what you're getting into – that way you won't be surprised and your transfer experience will be much smoother.
9. Be competitive.
If you attend a school knowing upfront that you will transfer, there are certain things you can do to get ahead. Make sure that you maintain a good GPA in your first two years so that institutions will welcome you with open arms.
Don't wait until you transfer to pursue opportunities afforded in college. You can study abroad, join a club or work on campus. Getting involved early on can make you more competitive for admission when it comes time to apply to a new school.
10. Keep your options open.
Make a list of all the colleges you want to apply to and keep track of what each one requires. If you've got your heart set on one school, make sure to develop a back-up plan if your application ends up deferred or denied.