Transferring from one college to another is not as simple the regular admissions process. Universities use transfer students to fill enrollment gaps left by students who are not returning in the fall. Therefore, the few spots designated for transfer students are more competitive than those reserved for incoming freshmen. College admissions officers review your grades, performance, abilities, and interests, based on records which were established as early as your high school years. If you decide to transfer, you need to know exactly what your prospective college or university is looking for.
What Colleges are Looking for in a Transfer Applicant
Your transcripts, courses, and GPA
An admissions committee for transfer students wants to make sure that the students they admit can handle the academic rigor of their institution. Therefore, you will be required to submit a copy of your transcript, reflecting all the college courses that you have completed to date (and in some cases, you will be required to submit a transcript of your high school grades as well). It is essential that you maintain the highest GPA possible after you have decided to transfer. Your performance in all of your college courses over time will be closely examined to ensure that you have continued to be motivated even when you knew you would be finishing the rest of your college career elsewhere.
The members of the admissions committee also want to verify that the transfer students they admit will fit in with their school’s culture and make a positive contribution to their campus. For that reason, your extracurricular activities at your present school are reviewed carefully as admissions officers look for signs of leadership skills, positive core values and community engagement. They may even check to see if you still participate in the activities you pursued in high school to determine whether you expressed a serious interest in those areas — or if you only took up those activities to help boost your chances of being admitted to the school of your choice.
Detailed recommendations from your past and current professors
Likewise, admissions committees place high importance on recommendations from your professors. Committee members want to know what it was like having you in class, whether you seemed sincere and motivated and whether you made positive contributions to the class, the department, and the university as a whole. Be sure to give your professors plenty of time to write a thorough recommendation, providing them with at least three weeks to prepare and submit. For more in-depth tips on this topic, see our blog entry on “How to Get the Best Transfer Letters of Recommendation.”
Your transfer admission essay
Chances are, the essay you write when you are applying to transfer to another school will differ considerably from the essay you wrote to gain entrance to your current school as a freshman. The questions require longer answers, call for more detailed responses, and receive more weight in the overall application. You may be expected to describe why you are hoping to transfer to another institution, or how your college experience both inside and outside the classroom is helping you meet your goals for the future. Or you may be asked to describe what influential factors (such as institution size, location, special programs, etc.) first shaped your decision to apply to your current college. Avoid being too general, or merely listing items from the school’s catalog or website. At Brattle Street, our coaches can help you to carefully plan out your essay beforehand, applying structure and creativity to your response. Brattle Street’s College Advising and Admissions Coaching services can help you navigate the transfer process with confidence and ease.
Requirements and expectations for standardized exams like the SAT vary from college to college. In some cases, less emphasis is placed on standardized exams for transfer students. In other instances, standardized tests are considered to help make difficult admissions decisions. Check with your prospective new school to learn about their requirements. Harvard, for example does consider your SAT score, recommending that the test be taken within the last three years prior to the date of your transfer application in order to reflect current aptitude and performance.
At Brattle Street, we have selected the best coaches, mentors, and tutors in the nation to help students reach their highest potential. If you are preparing to apply to the nation’s top universities as a transfer student, the process can be overwhelming — but you don’t have to go through it alone! For more information on how to prepare the strongest college transfer application possible and to learn more about what colleges are looking for in a transfer applicant, get in touch!