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Ask the Experts: Transfer Colleges

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Question I am a current student at Michigan and I am interested in the transfer admission process at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. How much of a role do standardized tests play in the admissions process for transfers in general? Also, does the difficulty level of the courses taken in college factor in a significant part of the admissions process? With your experience in admissions, what factors do you believe are most important in the transfer admissions process/which should be stressed the most? - Paul

AnswerGood questions on a tough topic. Basically, you have two windows of opportunity to transfer to a university like Penn (Wharton): after one year, to enter in the fall of sophomore year, or after two years, to enter as a junior. Some universities do admit mid-year transfers, but many of the very selective private colleges and universities do not.

As you accumulate college level coursework, your SAT/ACT scores decrease in importance. Thus, if you are trying to transfer after one year at Michigan, your scores will be more relevant than if you are applying after two years at Michigan. The same goes for your high school record. As you accumulate good courses and grades, in subjects relevant to your intended major(s), your high school performance and standardized tests become less important.

The quality of your current college education is important, and Michigan is well-regarded, so that helps. Wharton will want to see that you have done well in a pre-business oriented program. They will want you to explain the rationale behind your seeking a transfer. Michigan has a good business program itself, so you'll need to be clear about the particulars that attract you to Wharton specifically and Penn in general. You need good recommendation letters, and strong essays.

 

Question I applied to the Wharton School of Business during my high school senior year. I was rejected. I am planning on applying again after my freshman year of college. Do schools keep the admissions application that I had written during my senior year and compare it to the transfer application? I just wanted to know because I wanted use some aspects of my application that I submitted during my senior year...like the essays (some parts of it). - James

AnswerYou ask a very important question regarding reapplying to the same university after initial rejection. It is usual practice for a college to ask if you have applied previously. If you answer, yes, the admissions office will pull your original application and high school transcript. To be considered favorably this time, you must indicate your academic and outside experiences since you applied originally, why you are applying for transfer admissions, and, most important actor of all, how well you performed in your present college. It takes a GPA performance in the 3.5 range to be considered favorably.

Specific to your question regarding using the same material in the application: avoid at all costs! However, you may include very relevant information on your interests and why you want/need to study at the Wharton School.

 

Question I plan on attending a local university for the first 2 years and then transfer.  How do I know which classes will transfer to the new school? - craig

 

AnswerGood question. You're wise to look ahead in order to make sure you can stay on track with your graduation plans. Some two-year colleges have quite clear course plans that are set up to match with a four-year college or university's requirements, particularly in-state public institutions. They maintain articulation agreements setting out typically a standard two-year liberal arts program, or pre-business track, for example. Completing those courses and maintaining a certain GPA will help you enter the colleges of your choice with a guaranteed or at least very good chance of having all your courses transfer in. Take a look at some of the four-year institutions in which you might be interested and explore their transfer requirements and procedures. You might find that they have clear pre-transfer plans for those completing an associate (two-year) degree.

 

Question Im a sophomore in college. I went to the University of Dubuque last year and transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago. I have recently gone through a lot of changes and I am planning on transferring again. Does this look bad to the college I want to transfer to and also would it look bad when Im trying to get into med school? - Brittany

AnswerMany students change colleges at least once. Hopefully this next move will be your last prior to graduating. If you can gain admission to a college or university where you will be happier and more successful, then you can take advantage of that opportunity. You might need to take some courses over, or take an additional year to graduate, especially if you want to complete pre-medical requirements, and that is fine. Graduate schools will look at your courseload and your performance in it over time to assess your readiness for their programs. Just make sure you are not jumping from the frying pan into the fire. To mix metaphors, sometimes the grass looks greener at another college, but it isn't so. Evaluate carefully your potential new institutions prior to making your move.

 

Question I am an international student. I will be going this year to Granite State College in NH. I plan to transfer to another univ. next year. What would be your advice in improving my chances of a transfer to a top univ.? Apart from the grades of course. Do I need to take any tests and things like that? I had an OK average in my school but I know I can be a top student. Can you offer me any advice on this matter. - Denis

AnswerWe respect your determination to do well in your studies in order to build the kind of academic profile that will enable you to transfer to another university in time. The absolute base line for transferring successfully is a strong academic performance in your first year (and sometimes second year) of studies in your present college. A grade point average in the 3.0 range will give you good opportunities. The other key factor is the quality of courses you take. Make certain that all of your subjects are 3 or 4 point credit courses and fulfill general liberal arts requirements. Remedial courses will not be recognized for credit. If you do well in your classes, you should not need to take any admissions testing for transfer applications.

 

Question I am going to graduate from a Chinese university with an associate degree in business English major. And I am planning to study business in U.S. when graduate. Could you give me a study model with universities and degrees which explain the study process in a possible detail? And this will help people like me to set up a study plan in U.S. Thank you! - Jim

AnswerYou raise a very important topic that all students who are planning to transfer from a two-year program to a four-year university should consider. When a student applies for transfer the admissions committee will weigh heavily not only the grades achieved in his or her course work, but also what courses or subjects they have studied in their present college. If you are planning to transfer into a business major, there are specific courses you would be expected to have studied as a foundation.

The best course of action is to review the required courses at some of the four-year American universities that offer a business degree. You can then follow as closely as possible the requirements in their first two years of study at your home college. You can do very easily by going to the Web site of the particular universities.

 

Question how can i transfer from a college to another after 1 semester? - anish

 

AnswerFirst, you'll need to do very well right from the start. Second, don't plan on it. You'll do better to plan a full year (two semesters, or three trimesters) at the college at which you begin your studies. You can make transfer applications for the following fall, which you'll submit during the winter of your freshman year. That means the colleges to which you're applying will really only get to evaluate your first semester grades (and possibly midterms from your second semester). 

Many colleges have credit requirements for transfer students, and will prefer you to have finished the equivalent of a first year. This will also give you more time to prove yourself after your high school career. You can try to transfer for the second semester of your freshman year (in other words, start in the fall, then switch in the winter of your first year) but you won't have much luck. You will not have any college grades to show the new college you're applying to, and many institutions don't take mid-year transfers.

 

Question are absolutely all credits transferable? - Alexander

 

AnswerNo, not all are guaranteed to be transferable, unless you're in a two-year to four-year public college transfer program that has clearly defined grade and course plans. Usually, there is some negotiation that goes on once you enter a college to see which credits will transfer.

 

Question What SAT score do most schools require now for transfer? - shittu

 

AnswerDepending on when you apply for transfer, and which colleges you apply to, you might not need to submit your SAT (or ACT) scores. Or, if the colleges do require them, you should know that they will be much less important in the transfer admission process than they were in the freshman admission process. As a transfer applicant, your grades in your college courses will matter far more than the old standardized tests you took in high school. The more college classes you complete successfully, the more likely you are to complete more classes successfully, right on to the completion of your degree. That is what the colleges are focused on, so completing two to four college semesters worth of good academic work will set a strong foundation for transferring from one college to another.

In terms of scholarship money based on standardized tests, you will most likely have moved past these awards as a transfer student. If you qualify for merit-based financial assistance, it will most likely be on the basis of your college grades, and not your SAT or ACT scores.

 

Question If i transfer from my current college to another college but then realize i do not like the new college, will my original college accept me back without re-applying? Or, do i have to go through the whole transfer process? Finally, is there a chance that my original college would not let me back in? - John

AnswerOur immediately reaction to your question is this: do not transfer to another institution until and unless you have done a great deal of exploration of alternative options. You want to understand for yourself why you do not like your present college and what factors does any other college you might consider have to have for you to make the change. If you leave your first college and officially enroll in another, you would have to apply formally for re-entrance. There is no guarantee that you would be accepted. The admissions office would base their decision on how well you performed in your new college. Again, be as certain as you can that you understand what you want that is missing and check out other colleges very carefully.

 

Question I am planning to go to a community college next year. would it be advisable to transfer to a 4 yr. college after one year, or should I finish two years considering the financial and academic opportunities? Because I checked the community college and they offer more aid to those who have finished 2 years in their college than those who transfer earlier. But then I again I realize that it would be much better if I go to a four year college earlier...what do you think? thank you so much - joan

AnswerOne of the most common transfer routes is from a two-year (junior or community) college that grants an associate degree, to a four-year college or university that grants a bachelor's degree. Though some students do elect to transfer after just one year, there are many advantages to staying for two years and completing your associate degree. First, as you note, you'll save money by paying lower tuition and fees at the community college. If you're able to live at home with your family while doing so, you'll also save on room and board. Because of the more flexible course schedule, it may also be easier for you to keep a part-time job.

Second, if you complete your associate degree, you'll be a more desirable transfer applicant for four-year institutions, which will offer you credits for your course work and appreciate the fact that you completed your degree in good standing. Having proven yourself at the two-year college, you are more likely to be able to complete your four-year degree. Many states' public colleges and universities have preferential transfer admission and academic credit transfer opportunities for those who have graduated from their states', or even other states' two-year colleges. 

So, in fact, your odds for transfer admission are better after two years than after one, provided you are doing well in your coursework. And, on that point, many community/junior colleges have broad liberal arts course requirements or curricular plans that are designed to sync with most public or private graduation plans.

 

Question When is the best time to switch colleges, when you find out that the college you go to is not for you? - Jean

 

AnswerThere is no hard and set rule regarding the best time to transfer from one college to the next, but there are some good general rules to consider. For example, the more course credits and good grades (B or better) a student accumulates, the easier it is to transfer to an equal or, very often, higher level college. Students who have completed the first two years of college are more likely to gain acceptance to another college of their choice. This is because of the hard evidence of good grades will indicate a serious level of motivation, maturity, and the ability to master academic work. It is possible to transfer after one year of college, but the record of performance is slimmer and may not be enough to convince other colleges to accept a transfer applicant, unless the grades for the first term are exceptional. Transfer acceptance is also influenced by the student's performance in the last two years of high school.

 

Question I've heard that it might be a good idea to go to community college for a year or two then transfer to a full time university or college. Is this true or will it make it more difficult to get into a good school later? - Steve

 

AnswerThe broad world of higher education has great respect for the role that the community college fills in preparing motivated students for university studies. It has long been an understanding among four-year colleges and universities that students who complete a two-year community college degree, having taken a solid foundation of academic subjects should be given strong consideration or even preference in acceptance as transfer students.

For a great many individuals, it is a wise and successful course of action to begin their higher educational experience in a community college, for several key reasons: first is the opportunity to build a sound academic foundation in learning skills and subject matter; second is the financial savings that will then make it possible to enroll in a more expensive public or private university for the last two years of college; third, the broad range of courses offered in a two year college enables a student to explore various potential fields of interest and future career directions, thus making the choice of college to transfer into a more intelligent and productive decision.

A number of studies have shown that community college graduates have a successful level of retention and graduation from four-year institutions.

 

Question Who can I contact for guidance concerning my child's decision to drop- out of college. It has just been brought to my attention by my child that he is not happy with the school of his choice. What are his options and what process is involved with transferring to another school? Also, what advice can you give me concerning the awarded scholarship, financial aid & work study we have committed to? Thank you - Robert

AnswerBefore anyone takes any precipitous action, you and your child should sit down together, and talk with the people at his college who can help work through this decision. They include his adviser, a Dean of Residential Life, faculty he likes, a resident adviser, a financial aid officer, and academic deans. Ramifications of leaving can affect scholarship money being withdrawn (though typically not needing to be repaid), loss of a financial aid package (not guaranteed to be met at another school), and, if your son doesn't enter full-time study elsewhere, the potential to have to begin repaying student loans prior to earning his degree.

Transfer admissions is like freshman admissions, but often a little less accessible, depending on the college. Some schools will make a transfer admissions officer available to talk with a candidate by phone and potentially meet with him or her on campus. That can help determine admissions chances and possible fit. Other colleges don't have an interview process, on-campus or alumni, set up to help transfer students, and your son will be flying blind to some degree. This is a difficult decision, but not uncommon. Many students do transfer (at least once) during their college career, but it is important to do so wisely and in a well-planned manner if possible.

 

Question I am attending a community college for one year in Texas and then I hope to transfer to a four-year college, Wayne State University in Michigan. The problem is my parents have never been to college so they cannot help me in figuring out what procedures I need to take. How does transferring work, and what exactly do I need to do prior to my year ending? - Stephanie

AnswerFour-year state universities are very keen to enroll transfer students who have completed a successful one or two years of study at a community college. The two key ingredients to make the transfer work are to take solid or traditional courses that fit with the first-year curriculum at the university you hope to transfer into, and to achieve a 3.0 grade point average if at all possible.

You can research the transfer requirements at Wayne State by going to their Web site. Here you will find information on what are the recommended first-year courses to take prior to transferring, what is the required GPA, and what are the deadlines for submitting your application. Also check the page on financial aid for information on what forms need to be completed and the deadlines for their submission.

 

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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