How to Transfer Colleges: The Complete Guide for 2022

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Each year, every college updates its transfer requirements and process…

This article leverages the most up-to-date data so you can navigate your college transfer process with ease and certainty. CampusReel contains transfer data on every college and university in the country.

Transferring colleges can be exciting, scary, overwhelming and - well, you get the point…

Rest assured that you are not alone in this process. In fact, 37.2% of college students transfer to another college within six years of starting at the original institution.

There are A LOT of moving parts that go into transferring colleges, so let’s break the process down step by step.

Step 1: Analyze Your Primary Reason for Transferring

Most transfer students change schools due to three types of variables: social, geographic and academic.

Social variables can include disliking your roommates, having trouble making friends, embarrassing yourself at a party, etc. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to think about how the environment at a new school will impact these variables.

This is important to analyze because it will help explain your rationale to a new target school.

Bear in mind that if your primary reason for transferring colleges is a social factor, many of these factors persist on other college campuses...

You cannot escape peer pressure or drugs, for instance - they are elements of virtually every college experience. However , if you are currently at a small school and don’t get along with your peers, then moving to a big school may very well help you find a better circle of friends.

Geographic and academic reasons for transferring are much more straightforward.

Key Takeaway: your primary reason for transferring colleges should be for a concrete and purposeful desire that the future university can fulfill.

Step 2: Maintain a GPA at or above the Average Transfer GPA of your Target Institution

Your current college GPA is going to largely dictate the colleges you can consider transferring to. You should be focused on elevating this as much as possible.

HACK: Consider taking a few easier classes or professors to give your GPA a boost - future colleges won’t know the difficulty of each class or professor, they’ll just be looking at the overall picture.

Also, make sure your current GPA aligns with the average transfer GPA at a college.

You may be thinking, “What is the average transfer GPA for my college?” Lucky for you, CampusReel breaks down transfer requirements, GPAs and more by school.

Step 3: Align Your Course Selection with the Transfer Application

If you apply to be an agriculture major but don’t take agriculture classes, it’s going to be pretty hard to convince them you’re a genuine applicant…

It you don’t know what you want to study, don’t worry - millions of students enroll as undeclared majors.

However, if you know what you want to study and you align your course selections and application appropriately, you will have a much better shot at acceptance.

Universities often accept transfer applicants to fulfill very targeted spots. For example, maybe they need more economics or engineering majors while they are swamped with Spanish majors.

If you actively want to study a subject that fulfills a need in the school’s study body, and your application and essay speak to that desire, they will interpret your application as cohesive and purposeful.

Step 4: Examine the Risks of Transferring

You are changing a lot more than schools - you are changing friends, environments, credits, costs, etc.

All this change can be amazing, but it also has its drawbacks...

Risk #1

Will my college credits transfer?

The most obvious risk of transferring colleges is that you will lose existing college credits that you have earned. The most likely scenario is that some, but not all, of your college credits will transfer. Additionally, many universities have minimum grade requirements for a course to count for transfer credit.

You can select a university from the list below to see a breakdown of its minimum grade requirements:

Risk #2

Will I like the college I transfer to?

If you’re enrolled at a college you know exactly how important the people and community are. No platform in the world provides the same insight into the college experience as CampusReel.

This obviously a difficult question to answer. It’s also exactly why we created CampusReel - watch more than 15,000 student-made videos that show you exactly what it’s like to be a part of their communities… like this:

Risk #3

Starting over...

It’s takes time to find your home within a larger college community. Transferring colleges is not different - in fact, this transition is often even more difficult because many students already have established friend groups.

I recommend checking out the existing transfer population at a university before deciding to enroll. Does it receive 10 new transfer students each year, or 10,000? These numbers can help indicate how many other people will be in your same boat - it’s often easier to make friends with other transfer students first.

Step 5: Transferring Colleges After 1 Year

It’s worth adding a quick snippet in if you find yourself in this unique situation. If you are transferring colleges after one semester or one year, your high school GPA is going to be much more important than if you transfer later on in your college career.

Your transfer colleges, in this case, will likely align closely in competitiveness with your list of colleges in high school.

Step 6: Transfer Acceptance Rates should Align with Your Competitiveness

The average acceptance rate for all transfer students in the US, across all US colleges, is 63.1%. That means there are hundreds of schools above and below that mark.

You should analyze where your grades and test scores fall on the competitiveness spectrum, so select schools that align with your resume.

CampusReel also provides acceptance rates and requirements by school:

Step 7: Write an Amazing Essay

I know, you’ve already got to write 5 essays for the classes you’re already in…

Unfortunately, you need to add 1 more to that list 😉

But this one could completely change the trajectory of your college experience.

We could spend hours explaining how to craft a perfect college essay, or you could watch this video from the College Essay Guy.

The most important elements to keep in mind when writing your essay is that it is succinct and specific.

Again, think critically about your reason for transferring. What do you want to accomplish? What are you lacking at your current college or university?

It’s paramount that the target university will be able to fulfill your biggest wants and needs. If any college can satisfy your requirements, then why should they select you? Your problem and solution should be as specific to the institution as possible.

For example, maybe you want to study marine life and you are currently enrolled at a land-locked institution. It makes perfect sense for you to apply to UCSB…

As a rule of thumb, you should not be able to interchange the target university’s name in your essay with any other institution.

If your application essay works regardless of the institution, you should consider adding more detail and purpose.

So how hard is it to transfer colleges?

The easy answer is that it’s just as difficult as applying to colleges normally, but the process is slightly different. Your college GPA and course load will be a larger factor than your high school GPA, unless you’re transferring after one year.

If you’re dead-set on transferring colleges, there are hundreds of schools with relatively high acceptance rates and you will likely find one to attend. However, if you’re trying to transfer into a competitive school then the process will be tough.

Transfering to UCLA
Transfering to Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Transfering to The University of Texas at Austin (UT)
Transfering to Boston University (BU)
Transfering to New York University (NYU)
Transfering to Harvard University
Transfering to UC Berkeley
Transfering to University of Southern California (USC)
Transfering to University of Florida (UF)