How to Thrive as a Transfer Student

Are you a new transfer student, or someone who expects to be a transfer student soon? It’s not an uncommon position to be in as more than 33% of college and university undergraduate students will transfer schools at least once.

Some students transfer because they earned an associate’s degree at a community college and must then transfer to a four-year school. If that’s you, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that the social life on your new campus may be vastly different. While this varies from school to school, four-year colleges and universities often have more active and engaged student bodies. This can be a simple result of the fact that students at four-year schools are more likely to live on campus. Try joining clubs or volunteering with organizations on campus to meet people and get a feel for your new environment.

Another typical reason to transfer is financial. Whether you just can’t afford out-of-state tuition anymore, or you lost a grant or scholarship, or you’re switching from a private school to public, or you’re changing to a school closer to home to save on room and board—financial burdens are often the reason for a school switch. Expect an adjustment period as each school has its own social and academic quirks you’ll have to get used to. As always, spend some time on sites like Rate My Professor to determine which teachers will best match your academic style.

There are schools that may be better able to help you launch yourself into a new career, whether because the colleges for particular disciplines are very highly rated, or simply because job placement statistics are much better. Seeking better career opportunities is a very good reason to switch schools. Keep in mind that as a transfer you may not be as well known to professors and department chairs as you were in your last school, so try to get involved in student and study groups that will better help you make those connections so you can get the most out of the career boost your new school may be able to offer you.

Making a change in majors is another common reason students switch colleges. Maybe your old school didn’t offer what you were looking for, or perhaps there are particular faculty members at another school that you’d like to work with. Regardless, be sure that you pay attention to your personal needs as well as your academic ones. Since you presumably aren’t transferring because you didn’t like social life at your old school, be sure to get involved socially as quickly as possible so you don’t miss your friends and former social circle too much. You may even want to consider living on campus to ensure you make those social connections and have the most well-rounded student experience possible.