Transferring to a new college is not the same as starting your experience there as a freshman, but you probably already considered that fact when weighing your options. You may have found a more convenient location, more affordable school or more appropriate community, personally and professionally. In many ways as a transfer student, you are transitioning to a new place, space and community, which brings forth its own set of challenges. Once you receive that acceptance letter to your new school, you’ll need to think about several new factors:
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How are you going to adjust to a new location? Take the time to research dorms and student housing, and consider whether there are specific and better options for transfer students. Don’t overlook your choices in a hurry to find a living space, since some schools may give you freshman housing, while others might offer more variety. Off-campus housing or sublets are typically more convenient if you are transferring late or prefer the privacy.
Many colleges have secure off-campus housing websites and suggested third-party groups to help you through the search, and university Facebook groups and social media are another way to get connected. Finally, the university’s residence life or housing coordinator should be used as a resource as soon as you know your roundabout move-in date. If you are switching from an urban area to a rural college town, or vice versa, keep in mind the scene and environment may significantly change, but you will have a lot of support in finding the right space.
How are you going to adjust to a new set of finances? Your tuition can either go up or down, and that detail is an important factor to consider before you make the official transfer. You should contact the bursar’s office for more information on when and how to pay to your bills, as well as the university’s financial aid office, if you need student loans.
Consider whether you can transfer your loans to your new school: Is it more or less expensive and what will you do to adjust? Are there scholarships available? Some schools have designated financial awards for transfer students. Are there part-time job opportunities, internships or co-ops in which you can participate to help pay for tuition? You may have had options at your old school, but you need to create a budget and plan for payment at your new school. Finance can often be overlooked in the excitement of moving, but research and timely payments are always essential.
Plenty of students transfer schools because of a change in career track, degree type or educational focus. The ideal situation is where you would be able to transfer over some of your college credits, but this can get confusing because different colleges have different curricula, expectations, and norms. For example, while many schools offer to transfer credit hours, they may require you to retake specific courses for your major. Introduction to Theatre Appreciation at one school might mean something completely different from at another school.
This difference also becomes an issue when switching from a public to private institution, or vice versa. Are you trying to change your major? Have you looked into the requirements? Which extra classes would you need to take? What are the benefits of switching schools for your academic career and future? Take some time to sit with an academic adviser at your new school to map it out so you have a working plan.
As a transfer student, you’ll be entering a new community of students, teachers, and neighbors. Making friends and becoming integrated into campus life is not an easy task, even if you’ve done it before. Look into events during the first two months of the semester—they usually include mixers and general meetings where you can join clubs or organizations that interest you. It’s also a great way to meet people who share the same hobbies and passions.
The ease of this process could depend on what time of year you’re transferring. However, while it is smoother to join at the beginning of the year, it is never too late to join a community! Just remember you are a valuable part of the student body, and—as a transfer student—you bring unique experiences to the table. Don’t be shy, and do whatever is most comfortable!
Lastly but most importantly, consider how this college transfer may affect your future plans. Will it restructure a previously thought-out timeline? Will it shorten or lengthen your academic timeline? How does that change affect the other parts of your day-to-day life?
Keep these things in mind. Don’t forget to keep up your GPA and stay focused on your goals; remember the key reason why you transferred colleges in the first place. Fear not if you find your plans changing multiple times—this situation is highly expected, whether you’re a transfer student or not.
Transferring colleges may seem like a daunting process, but it has been done many times before. You will do beautifully! Just consider these steps early on in the process, and you’ll be able to put your full energy toward your classes.