Inside My Transfer Experience: How I Succeeded and My Major Takeaways

For some, transferring universities can be a very difficult and complex decision. For others, it’s a slice of cake. There are a bunch of valid reasons why someone may choose to transfer; maybe it’s because your financial situation has changed or you’re homesick. Perhaps you’re looking for more educational opportunities and pursuing a different major or a better program is more accessible elsewhere. Or, maybe you simply just don’t enjoy the school you’re attending. 

At my first school, I wasn’t excited about the campus culture and my academic program and didn’t love the fact that I was still living in my home state. Having applied to only one school, I wanted to explore my options a bit more. Although I had my reasons to leave, I was still scared to start such an intimidating process. I had no idea where to even start.

One year after being accepted to my top school as a transfer student, I now know the process backwards and forwards. It’s a tough road for many, but it’s worth it if you’re truly unsatisfied. 

Me at Lehigh University

The Application Process

As a transfer student, the application process is pretty similar to how it is in high school— minus all the added help from your guidance counselor. Sigh… You truly don’t know what you have until it’s gone. 

For the most part, you’re on your own. If you’re like me and don’t know where to start, try reaching out to your high school guidance counselor and schedule a meeting or call to ask any questions you may have. Keep in mind, however that they’re not on the clock and may not have the time. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend almost two hours bombarding my old counselor with loads of questions. Though, I hopefully made up for it with a cup of hot chocolate. 

Don’t be afraid to even call the schools you’re applying to to ask questions. If you’re curious about tours, tuition, or due dates, dial them up and ask yourself. Just don’t forget to mention your name when communicating your interest so that the school knows who’s making the effort! 

Of course, the application process includes the basics like completing the application and mailing out transcripts to selected schools. Keep in mind that the transcripts are not only meant to give the admissions committee an idea of your academic success, but also, very importantly, knowledge of which courses have the ability to transfer over for credit. I wanted to avoid repeating any courses and therefore falling behind at a new school, so when I confidently decided to transfer, I made sure to not only take my required courses, but to also confirm that the schools I was applying to offered something similar. Staying on track to graduate on time was my goal, as it is for many students– for both financial and time-related reasons. 

Overall, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be thorough and proofread your application for misspellings and punctuation. On top of that, make sure you complete all the required paperwork by its intended due date. I recommend even sending it in so that it’s received at least a week in advance. After doing so, checking your applicant portal and following up is always a smart idea in order to make sure everything is set.

Tying up Loose ends

After you’ve received that long-awaited acceptance letter, it’s best to write to your current school or any other schools where you placed a deposit, notifying them that you will no longer be attending their school next semester. While this is the final step throughout this long process, it’s definitely the easiest. This simply involves writing emails to the schools you’ve applied to or have attended in order to communicate your withdrawal (we wouldn’t want people to think that you dropped off the face of the earth). It’s also the perfect time to let anyone who helped you along the way (guidance counselors, professors who wrote recommendation letters, etc.) know about the good news and thank them for their help! 

The Most Difficult Parts

Everyone’s experience is different. However, from my perspective, the waiting game is one of the worst parts of transferring. I applied to all of my schools by mid-January of 2019 and I did not know where I was attending until the end of July, when I got a call from the admissions team of my top school. Sure, before that time I had already put down a deposit at another school, confirming my attendance there for the following semester. I was so excited. Yet, I still hadn’t heard from all the schools I applied to. Patience is key throughout this process, which is something I lack at times… If there’s any advice I can give you from my own experience, it’s to not worry about hearing back from schools. Instead, take it one day at a time and enjoy the present. Be patient and don’t obsess, because in the end, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to— whether that means you get waitlisted, a rejection letter or an acceptance from your top school.

Outside of waiting to hear back from schools, saying goodbye to the amazing friends I made was definitely a big challenge. Although the initial school I attended wasn’t what I was looking for, I met some of my favorite people there. With them I made great memories that will always stand out in my mind. Yet, as much as it hurt to leave them, I knew it was the right decision. 

The Best Parts

Despite the overall process being a long and difficult one, I don’t regret one bit of it. It may sound cheesy, but this whole experience truly proved that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to if I really want it. By transferring, I’ve had the opportunities to explore a new town and state, delve much deeper into my fields of study and make some great friends from around the world along the way. It can be risky transferring, but I’m glad I took the leap.

Lehigh University, Photo by: Deirdre Kelshaw

My Takeaway

Although my experience as a transfer student hasn’t been the easiest, I’m now exactly where I want to be. There’s no doubt that my journey came with sacrifices, but I’m thankful for all the challenges and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Yet, even as a transfer student who’s done her fair share of research on the topic, I don’t see many others talking about their experiences, nor do I see much information on what to expect. So, I hope that in some way my journey and overview of the process can help those who are about to embark on something somewhat similar. 

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