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What Is Considered a Transfer Student?

This article provides information regarding what a college transfer student is, some common reasons why individuals may choose to change schools, and a few important factors that students will want to keep in mind when transferring.

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What is a Transfer Student?

In general, a transfer student is one who begins their college academic career at one institution, earns some credits through completion of coursework, and then decides for whatever reason to transfer to a different school to finish their education.

Transfer students are typically college sophomores or juniors in terms of the number of credits that they have already earned. Transferring as a freshman may be possible, but the school that an individual plans on switching to may require that students have more credits than a freshman usually has in order to be eligible for the transfer process. Schools also may not accept senior requests to transfer, as colleges often have policies regarding the number of credits a student must have earned there in order to graduate with a degree from that school.

Reasons for Transfer to a New College

There are a number of reasons why students may feel the need for transferring to a new college or university, a few of which are explored in greater detail:

  • Desire to Attend a Four-Year Institution - One common reason that students transfer is if they originally enrolled in a two-year community college program to earn general education credits. They then may choose to transfer to a larger four-year institution in order to finish their bachelor's degree and have greater access to more fields of study.
  • Personal Motives - Some students may find that they are unhappy with the college they initially chose to attend, in which case they may consider transferring to a new school. Other students may change their minds about what career they want to pursue, and it might be necessary to switch schools in order to study a different area. Students may also want to change schools for financial reasons or to be closer to friends and family.
  • Greater Access to Opportunities or More Prestige - Students may also want to transfer from one school to another if the new college is ranked significantly higher than the original school or if it provides access to more opportunities following graduation. Students who did not perform well in high school may want to consider the transfer process if they have done well during their first year or two of college courses, as they may then be eligible for admission at colleges and universities that would have previously overlooked them had they applied as freshmen.

Important Information for Prospective Transfer Students

When considering the transfer process, it is essential that students carefully research the policies of the school they intend to transfer to, as there isn't a standardized policy that applies to all colleges. Each school may set its own application deadlines and require that students submit various documents and information about themselves in order to be considered for admission as a transfer student.

Additionally, students will want to make sure they fully understand how the credits they have already earned at their current school will transfer over to their new school. This process will likely vary by school, as not all institutions offer the same courses nor will they necessarily accept each credit that a student has earned elsewhere. Study.com has provided a course that explains this process in greater detail:

Students are also advised to check if the school they plan on attending offers any special opportunities or resources that are designed specifically for transfer students. For example, some colleges and universities offer scholarships that are intended for transfer students, as they may have missed out on many of the offerings for freshmen. There may also be orientation meetings at the beginning of the school year for transfer students in order to help them adjust to life on a new campus.

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