Are you a college transfer student? If so, you’re in good company. Every year, thousands of students make the switch from one school to another. Transferring can be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity to start fresh and forge your own path. Here are eight tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

1.  Get Organized

The first step to successfully transferring colleges is to get organized. This means creating a list of the colleges you’re interested in and their deadlines for applications and transcripts. You should also reach out to your current college’s registrar to request a copy of your transcript.

Staying organized is one of the most essential tips for college transfer students because, typically, college transfer students will have to navigate different articulation agreements, transcript requests, and academic admission requirements.

one tips for college transfer students is to stay organized. Picture is the word "organization" spelled out in wood blocks on a table in front of a wood wall background
Stay Organized During the College Transfer Process Because it Can Damage You In the Long Run

Related: Non-Degree Seeking Students: Challenging the Status Quo

2.  Research the Requirements

Each college has different requirements for transfer students, so you must research the requirements of each school you’re interested in.

For example, some colleges may require that you have a certain GPA, while others may require that you complete specific courses.

College transfer students often find themselves in a unique situation as they apply for college. Submitting college applications can feel challenging and overwhelming, but it’s imperative to submit your college application early if you’re a college transfer student.

Related: Transfer Requirements for UC Davis Biological Sciences

Doing so will help ensure you have the best chances for acceptance, as college admissions counselors may quickly fill spots when reviewing college applications from college transfer students.

Furthermore, submitting college applications early can give you more time to review the school’s requirements and provide any extra materials needed for your application.

Don’t let the stress of transferring colleges take away your opportunities – submit your college application early! Understanding the requirements is one of the many tips for college transfer students who have a demonstrated interest in transferring within two years.

3.  Write a Personal Statement

Most colleges will require that you write a personal statement as part of your application. This is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee who you are and why you’re interested in transferring.

Be sure to proofread your statement several times before submitting it. If you think you will write a concise, compelling, and admission-worthy personal statement two days before the deadline, think again.

Put in the effort to make sure your personal statement is well-written and error-free, as it can make or break your chances of admission.

4.  Reach Out To Your Schools of Interest

It never hurts to reach out to the college you’re interested in transferring to! This could mean emailing the admissions office to inform them of your intention to apply in the upcoming cycle.

More often than not, especially if the school is large or selective, universities will have a dedicated staff member assigned to a specific region within the continental United States. Universities with a regional presence can recruit students continually, resulting in increased enrollment and a subsequent bump in tuition dollars.

For example, I was assigned to an outstanding admissions representative when applying to the University of Southern California (USC) from San Diego City College.

This representative was assigned to cover the entirety of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), which encompasses the study bodies of San Diego Mesa College, San Diego City College, and San Diego Miramar College.

USC assigned a dedicated staff member to the San Diego Community College District to ensure prospective USC transfer students had all the information they needed to apply.

I utilized this representative on multiple occasions, including before and during the USC transfer admissions process. I began the relationship with a general “Introducing Myself” email, where I informed them that I was planning on applying to USC and wanted to introduce myself.

All in all, universities want students to showcase an interest in their institution – so take the time to reach out and introduce yourself! It could be the difference between acceptance and rejection.  Good luck!

5.  Ask for Recommendations

In addition to your personal statement, many colleges require letters of recommendation as part of their transfer application process. Letters of recommendation can provide insight into a prospective transfer applicant. It’s crucial to collect letters of recommendation during the application process.

Make sure you leave your recommender enough time to write a comprehensive letter. It would be best if you provided them with a copy of your resume or CV so they can recall all your accomplishments more easily.

Who Should I Ask When Seeking a Letter of Recommendation for College Applications?

When applying as a college transfer student, it is essential to ask for letters of recommendation from knowledgeable individuals about the student’s academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and character traits.

To ensure that the letter accurately represents the student’s strengths, it is best to ask someone who knows the student well and can speak to their qualifications in detail.

For example, teachers or professors with whom the prospective transfer student had taken classes and excelled academically would be ideal recommenders.

They will likely be able to provide insight into how well the student performed compared to their peers; this information could prove invaluable when admissions officers decide whether or not to accept the applicant.

Additionally, instructors may be able to attest to the student’s willingness to take the initiative and participate in class discussions.

Beyond academics, coaches or advisors from extracurricular activities that demonstrate strong leadership qualities should also be considered for letters of recommendation.

In these cases, recommenders should strive to include specifics about how the applicant demonstrated responsibility and focus outside the classroom.

Such qualities may include working as part of a team or taking charge of a project and any awards or accomplishments achieved during involvement in such organizations.

Of course, anyone providing a letter should also have direct knowledge of the applicant’s overall character traits and ability to interact with others effectively.

Employers or mentors who have observed first-hand how prospective transfer students handle themselves among different types of people could offer valuable insight into their interpersonal skills and maturity level; this type of feedback might even show admissions officers that an applicant is ready for college-level work.

Finally, always remember that letters from family members—while appreciated—will generally not hold much weight when being considered for admission into college.

Therefore students should focus on individuals who can communicate clear examples about their academic performance and overall personality when writing letters for them.

Ultimately by ensuring letters come from qualified candidates with direct experience with the applicant’s capabilities, transfer students can feel confident that they are submitting their strongest possible application for consideration.

6.  Submit Your Application Early

Once you’ve gathered all the materials needed for your application, submit it as early as possible. Many colleges have rolling admissions, which means they accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that the earlier you submit your application, the higher your chances of being accepted are.

Additionally, many colleges fill up their classes quickly, so submitting your application early increases your chances of getting into the school of your choice.

I also advocate submitting your application early because I understand how procrastination works. Students who start on their college applications early undoubtedly produce higher-quality applications.

Just think about it, if you look at the personal statement prompt for the college transfer application four months before the deadline, you can ponder the question and plan out what you want to say for that entire period.

This way, when you’re ready to start writing the essay, you already have an idea of what direction you want your statement to go and can craft a more meaningful response.

Furthermore, submitting college applications early can give you more time to review the school’s requirements and provide any extra materials needed for your application.

Submitting applications on time will increase the chance of being accepted and allow for a higher quality application and peace of mind.

Don’t let the stress of transferring colleges take away from your opportunities – don’t procrastinate – start your college transfer application as soon as possible and make sure you submit it before the deadline!  Good luck!

7.  Follow Up With the Admissions Committee

After you’ve submitted your application, it’s essential to follow up with the admissions committee to ensure that they received all your materials and that your application is complete.

This follow-up can be done via email or phone call. Do not use this time to bother the admissions team. You should not, under any circumstances, inquire about when you will expect a decision back.

Nearly every university in the United States has published its admissions decisions on a consistent timeline; it is your job to locate that information on the university website or find out by analyzing when admission decisions usually come out for the school.

When I say you should follow up with the admissions committee, I mainly mean ensuring all necessary documentation for a completed application is in the right hands.

It would be devastating to find out later in the process, possibly when it is too late, that the registrar’s office never received the transcript from the community college you took one course during the summer (yes, this has happened to me).

8.  Have a Plan B

Lastly, having a plan B is crucial if your first-choice school doesn’t accept you. This might look like applying to another college on your list or deferring to attend university for a year.

The transfer admissions process is highly competitive, and many students elect community colleges as their starting point because research has repeatedly shown that transferring from a community college will bolster admission chances–especially when considering schools such as UCs.


All in all, transferring to colleges is an important and exciting decision many students make. While the process may seem daunting, there are specific guidelines you can use to make sure your application is as polished and ready as possible.

By submitting your college applications early, following up with the admissions committee, and having a plan B should your first-choice school not accept you, you can make sure your transfer process is as successful and smooth as possible.

Remember to utilize the resources around you while applying to a new college. Reach out to friends or family that went through the same experience and ask for advice on how they handled their application process. Good luck!