Graceful Transitions for Transfer Students - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Campus Life College Admissions
July 12, 2017

Graceful Transitions for Transfer Students

If you’re feeling that the four-year college you chose really isn’t the best fit for you, you might be considering a transfer to another institution. Thousands of students transfer from one four-year institution to another every year. It’s what the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) calls a “lateral transfer.”

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center estimates that on average, about 342,860 students change schools each year, and approximately 67 percent of students with bachelor's degrees from four-year institutions have changed colleges at least once.

The 2015 edition of NACAC's annual State of College Admission report showed that the number of applications most four-year colleges and universities in the United States receive from transfer students is continuing to rise. There was a 4.3 percent increase in applications between fall 2014 and fall 2015.

Whether you’re considering a move due to a change in major, a change in finances, or a change of heart, there are a few things to be aware of as you start searching for an academic institution that better suits your path and your passions.

 1) Some schools are more transfer-friendly than others.

Many four-year colleges actively recruit transfer students to help boost enrollment numbers and revenue. U.S. News & World Report offers this list of schools that had the most transfer students enrolling in fall 2015. Even if the school you’re interested in is not on this list, admissions counselors suggest that you reach out to academic advisors or professors at your targeted school. You can also search online to see if there is a designated transfer department to assist you in the application process.

2) Transferring is only slightly more challenging than applying as a first-year student.

The acceptance rate for transfer students in 2015 was 61 percent, according to NACAC’s 2015 Admission Trends Survey. This is slightly lower than the acceptance rate of first-year students: 65 percent.

3) Your grades are a key factor in your acceptance.

The best way to boost your chances of acceptance at a new college is to have good grades at your current school. More than 83 percent of colleges that participated in the 2015 NACAC survey said that overall GPA was “considerably important” when evaluating transfer applicants, and 71 percent rated average grades in transferable courses “considerably important.”

Grades matter so much for transfer students because they give admissions counselors evidence of your proven ability to succeed in college-level coursework. Unlike first-time or international students, your high school performance and admission test scores (SAT, ACT) are only moderately, if at all, important in transfer admission decisions.

4) Make sure your credits transfer.

One of the most important things to do before you make your decisions is to ensure your credits transfer. Many students lose time and money due to a nationwide transfer system that is “intractable and cumbersome.” US News & World Report cites the U.S. Department of Education’s claim that, on average, “a transfer student loses 13 credits already earned and paid for.”

Policies vary from state to state, so educate yourself fully to ensure you know what to expect. Talk to your prospective college's transfer credit evaluator early on to know where you stand.

5) Seek out financial aid opportunities.

Contact the financial aid office at your target school and inquire about merit aid. Seventy-seven percent of colleges reported that they provide merit scholarships to transfer students, reports NACAC. Ask about any additional grants or other kinds of financial support that might be available to you.

6) Set yourself up for a smooth integration.

Former transfer students say living on campus is a great way to integrate more quickly into the student community. Getting involved in extracurricular activities and clubs at your new school also enhances your ability to connect with new friends who share your interests. Additionally, be sure to attend the orientation that most schools offer specifically for transfer students.

For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your career goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email