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Transferring: What I Wish I Had Known

Pretty quickly into my freshman year at the University of Richmond, I knew it wasn’t the school for me. I decided that I wanted to transfer, so I worked hard, applied to schools, and was accepted to Boston College. 

That’s the Sparknotes version though. In truth, the process of transferring was more complicated than I had anticipated. If you’ll remember, a huge emphasis is placed on first-year college applications. However, I found that there’s a lot less guidance in place for transfer applications!

If you’re considering transferring, here are a few things I wish I had known at the time. 

The Common App is… not so common for transfer applications. 

Remember writing your big personal statement, and then a few supplemental essays? Well, the schools you apply to for transfer can opt in or out of the personal statement. One may require it, another may only require a series of smaller essays. I recommend cross-checking the writing requirements on both the Common App and the school’s website just to be certain.

You’ll need both your high school and college information for your application. 

I hope you remember your password for your first-year Common App account, because you’ll need all that high school information that you so painstakingly keyed in the first time! Your prospective colleges may also require your high school transcript in addition to your college one. Make sure you check each college’s paperwork requirements separately. If you’re not sure, call the admissions office! 

Your prospective school will probably not take all of your college credits. 

Each school has its own unique courses that may not be easily categorized. For example, a freshman seminar that is a blend of philosophy and writing might not “translate” to your next college as an acceptable philosophy OR writing class credit. You may be able to negotiate with the registrar to get partial or full credit. But be prepared to be a little behind, credits-wise. 

Is it the school you’re not clicking with? Or college in general?

After some deep discernment, I realized that burnout from high school contributed to my decision to transfer. I made the choice to defer my acceptance to Boston College and take a year in between to work, take acting classes, and rebuild my mental fortitude. I struggled with this decision mightily: would I be behind my classmates? What would people think? 

I’m glad I followed my intuition, because it was right! That year off allowed me to decompress, refocus, and take full advantage of my college experience when I returned to it.

One last thing…

You may feel like an outsider for wanting to transfer, or that you’re not grateful for the opportunity you’ve been given. I can confidently tell you that it takes courage to acknowledge that the college you worked so hard to get into isn’t working. You deserve to feel fulfilled and challenged by your college experience. If you’re not feeling those things, don’t be afraid to make the change! I promise you that it’ll be worth it.