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March 1, 2021

Key Information You’ll Need before Transferring Colleges


You applied to college, spending considerable effort and money on your applications. You were happy with the college you committed to. Yet now a year a so into college, you are underwhelmed & dissatisfied. What should you do? Is it time to look for another college? Perhaps you didn’t get into one of your top choices and you want to apply ‘new and improved’ to your top choice college from high school. According to Insider Higher Education, approximately 30% of students transfer to another college, not an insignificant number.


  1. Is it time to transfer colleges?
  2. How competitive is transferring colleges?
  3. Do you what out? Do you even know what you are looking for?
  4. When should you transfer?
  5. Will you graduate on time and within budget?

Is it time to transfer Colleges?

  • There are many reasons to transfer to another college. Sometimes a family situation pops up such as a health issue in a parent, prompting you to live closer to home. Perhaps the school culture is not as appealing as you thought, such as too many parties and distractions, preventing you from focusing on your studies. May be your major changed; and your current college doesn’t offer it.

How Competitive is transferring Colleges?

  • The college transfer student acceptance rate is likely comparable to the freshmen year acceptance rate at that college, as high as 70% for the average college, or less than 5% for truly selective colleges. One way to increase your chances is to attend a community college with linkage to a 4 – year college, such as Santa Monica College to UCLA or Mercer County College to Rutgers University.


  • Unlike freshmen – year applicants where SAT and high school transcripts are important. For college transfers, the college transcript is paramount. Also important are impactful leadership on campus, authentic community service in the neighboring areas, academic research in areas of interest, and strong letters of reference from faculty. Of course, the all – important personal statement and specific prerequisites are also key components to the application.


  • A key side note is if you apply with less than 60 credits, the next college may likely want to see your high school transcripts as well.


Will your credits transfer, allowing you graduate on time and within budget?


  • Sometimes you arrive on campus and say to yourself, “this was a mistake.” A roommate situation may not work out. You might just not like the frigid, Northeast winters. Whatever the reason, transferring colleges is similar to applying to college the first time. Perhaps you are pre-med or pre-law and prefer a college with more resources.


  • College’s credit acceptance policies vary from college to college. You don’t want a considerable amount of your courses not to transfer to the next college, causing you to re-take them, delaying graduation. The incoming college’s Registrar’s office should be helpful in this regard.


The Bottom Line


  • In 2019, Notre Dame accepted 198 transfer students. While Penn State admitted over 900. To the contrary, in 2020, Princeton accepted only 13 transfer students. Thus, you can see selectivity determines transfer student admission rates. Institutions such as Princeton, with their high freshmen retention rate, have fewer spots to offer each year.


  • Need help transferring to another college? Contact Ivy Bound at mrichardson@ivybound.com or text Dr. Richardson at 609.608.6258.