What you need to know about transferring

What you need to know about transferring colleges

Thinking about changing schools? Here are some tips to make the process easier.

Perhaps it’s for social or academic reasons, or maybe you just miss your hometown. Whatever the case may be, if you’re thinking that your college isn’t right for you and want to transfer to a new one, there are a lot of considerations that may need to go into your decision. With some pre-planning and effort, changing schools can be relatively easy. And the good news is once you’re settled in at a school you like, you’re far more likely to succeed.

Start early

If you’ve decided you want to transfer, start doing your homework on where you think you want to go. Explore schools’ websites, review admission requirements, and most importantly, contact the admissions office.

“It’s crucial to plan early and talk to an admissions counselor so they can guide you through the transfer process,” says Claire Kirby, Director of Admissions at University of North Carolina–Charlotte. An admissions counselor will typically review your educational background and check for certain prerequisite courses — especially if you’re already pursuing a specific major. After talking to a counselor, you should have a detailed roadmap of exactly what you need to transfer and improve your chances of being admitted.

To be reviewed for a financial aid package, transfer students just need to add the codes for their new school to their current Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Stay the course

Once you’ve chosen the school you want to transfer to, apply for admission, a process that can take six to eight weeks. “This gives us time to determine how many transfer credits a student has, and where those credits will be applied,” says Kirby. Note that the majority of students transfer so they start their new school in the fall semester.

Just because you’re leaving your current school doesn’t mean you can stop going to class. It’s crucial that you maintain good grades and finish the current semester with a strong GPA, which will make you more attractive to the admissions office. While requirements vary depending on the school, a 2.0 GPA and 24 hours of transferrable credits — about one year of college — are typically the minimum criteria to transfer. Some schools have far more stringent requirements. In certain instances, students transfer schools after just one semester, in which case the new school will also review the student’s high school credentials.

Finalize the details

Once you’ve been admitted to your new school, you can start figuring out details like housing and financial aid. Kirby says that in general to be reviewed for a financial aid package, transfer students just need to add the codes for their new school to their current Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the primary form that the federal government, states, and colleges use to award grants, scholarships, and student loans. Similar to academic records, financial aid transcripts follow students when they change schools. Once you’ve been admitted as a transfer student, your new school will use FAFSA to start the financial aid process and determine what, if any, grants, loans, or scholarships you qualify for.

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