Transferring From One College to Another
Sometimes people start college at one school, and end of transferring to another. This could be for a host of different reasons. Some schools you are meant to transfer from if you would like to go on and get a higher degree, such is the case with Community Colleges. Others, might just not be a good fit, or the student has to transfer for necessity. Transferring can feel a bit overwhelming but it happens all the time and can be a really good thing for a student’s education.
Why Transfer to Another School?
There are several different reasons to transfer to a different school. Being in the military, or being the spouse of a service member could mean you have to transfer because of a PCS. When the orders come down, you have to find a school in your new area. Some spouses do decide to stay behind to finish, but that isn’t the right choice for everyone. As soon as you know where you will be moving to, you can start looking at your options.
Another reason to transfer to another college is because of your major. You may have decided to change majors and now need to find a different program that your current school doesn’t have. You may have finished your Associate’s degree but now want to move on to another school to complete your Bachelor’s or even higher degree.
Sometimes the reasons to transfer are because you are not enjoying your current school, lack the motivation there that you need to succeed there, or need a fresh start. Personal reasons can be why you need to switch schools and many people do so for that reason.
Where to Transfer to?
In order to transfer schools, you need to know where you want to transfer to. If your goal is to transfer to a 4-year school, you can either look at the colleges in your general area, plan to move somewhere to attend college, or even attend online.
If you are wanting to change schools because of a program, or because you want to get away from your current college or university, you should make sure the new school is a better fit. Check out what programs any potential school would have to see if switching can help improve your educational journey.
Talking with your advisor would be a good place to start. That way, you can hear from them and gain ideas about what you might want to do. They can give you some clarity as well as help in moving forward with your decision. Your advisor will be able to help you get started on the process, and even go over which of your credits might transfer and which ones won’t.
A possible downside to transferring to another college could be losing credits. The school you are transferring from can have different requirements than the school you are transferring to, even when it comes to general education courses. This can be an issue for some and will require you to repeat similar classes, or put you in a school where you really didn’t need certain courses you had taken before.
If you are switching to a completely different program, say from an English major to a science one, there might be more differences in classes based on what you were required to take for each major. You can also take CLEP exams in order to avoid having to retake a class, as long as the new college will accept them.
You should send your transcripts to the school you are interested in attending, and they can tell you what they will accept and what they won’t. If you are interested in a school who won’t accept them, think about if switching there will be worth doing so in the long run, in some cases it might be.
If your reason for switching schools is financially related, you should talk to your current school first and see if there is anything that can be done to help you stay. There could be options you don’t know about.
Know that student aid is not going to transfer directly between colleges, and your new school will recalculate your eligibility from scratch based on the information from your FAFSA and the college’s financial aid application forms. Certain types of aid might be portable but aid such as the Federal Perkins loan and Federal work-study is not.
You will want to make sure you are aware of where you stand and if you still owe anything to your old school as you will need to settle and pay that balance. They can withhold your transcripts if you do have unpaid bills. Talking to financial aid should clear all of this up for you.
You will need to update your GI Bill of you are using that for your education. You can do so by requesting a Change of Program or Place of Training VA Form 22-1995 for veterans and service members or a Dependent’s Request for Change of Program or Place of Training VA Form 22-5495 for dependents.
Paperwork & Applying
There will be plenty of paperwork involved in order to transfer schools so you must keep on top of everything. Make sure you know what you need to do concerning your old school, and you new one. You will need to apply to your new school so it is important that you find out if you are accepted before you move forward with transferring.
Transferring isn’t for everyone, but can be a good idea. You might even want to do so years after you finish at one school. The key is knowing how to get started at the school you want to attend and being able to leave the school you have been going to without too much trouble. Planning and staying organized will allow you to do so.
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.