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15 tips to make transferring to a new college easier

Transferring from one college or university to another can be a daunting task. There are a lot of things to think about, from the application process to the transfer credits to the new campus environment. But don't worry, we're here to help! In this blog post, we'll share our top tips on how to make the transfer process as smooth as possible. 

Want to know what it's like to transfer to Central Michigan University? Learn more about everything from transfer scholarships to visit days and find out how to connect with a transfer advisor.

1. Know what a transfer student is and why you might transfer 

A transfer student in its simplest terms means that you start your college journey at one school but later switch to a different school to continue your education. This change can involve moving from a community college to a four-year university or transferring between different four-year institutions. It also might even mean transferring from a four-year school to a community college.  

People become transfer students for various reasons that include: 

  • pursuing a specific program 
  • moving closer to or further from to home
  • saving on tuition costs
  • seeking a new academic program
  • current college is not a good fit 

When you transfer, you bring the credits and coursework you've completed at your previous school with you to apply toward your degree at the new institution.  

 2. A little research can save you a lot of time and money   

Many students choose to attend community college before transferring to a four-year university to save time and money. However, if you don't start working with your community college advisor from day one, you could take classes that won't transfer to your bachelor's program. This is a waste of time and money.  

To ensure a smooth transfer, it's important to decide where you want to transfer as soon as possible and then share this information with your community college advisor. They can help you choose the exact classes you need to take, as well as identify which credits transfer from your previous institution, and which do not.  

Many universities offer a ‘transfer equivalency guide’ for students to check their credits, prior to transferring. Additionally, it's a good idea to get in touch with the transfer advisor at the university you wish to attend. They know what their university will accept as transfer credit and can save you even more time and money on your bachelor's degree. 

3. Understand the financial aspect of transferring colleges 

There are several implications to transferring colleges that will impact your financial aid. Different schools will certainly have different costs, some much higher and some perhaps lower. Community colleges will be cheaper than a four-year institution, for example. These costs can impact the amount of aid you receive.  

If you transfer to a more expensive school, you will most assuredly need more money to cover the costs, and this may mean you will bear those costs in the form of cash, loans or other types of aid. 

Students who transfer to less expensive schools will see their costs go down, and while that is a financial positive, your financial aid may also be reduced as well.  

It makes smart financial sense to inquire with your current financial aid office to understand how your current finances will be impacted by transferring because financial aid is sent to your current school, usually in bulk payments by semester. This means if you transfer mid-year, you will need to notify your lender that you won’t need funding for the new semester at this institution.  

When you leave a school, your school will notify your lender, and they could start your repayment process unless you inform them that you are transferring schools. Accidentally going into repayment early isn’t fun. 

Bottom line: talk to both your current and future school to understand your complete financial picture. Colleges and universities have financial aid offices that can help you understand the financial aspects of transferring. 

4. Ensure your major is offered 

When transferring to a new university, it's vital to check if your desired major is offered. This step can significantly impact your academic and career goals. Start by visiting the university's official website and navigating to the academic programs or departments section.  

Look for your specific major or closely related programs. It's also a great idea to reach out to the university's admissions office or academic advisors for confirmation. Ensuring that your chosen major is available at your new university is a crucial part of making a smooth transition and setting yourself up for success in your academic journey. 

5. Submit your transfer application 

To transfer to a new school, start by completing their transfer application. Transfer and first-year student applications are often alike, needing letters of recommendation, an essay, and some may ask for test scores too. You'll usually need to send transcripts from your previous colleges. Every school has its own transfer requirements, so do your research. Look for them on the school's website, especially for your chosen major.  

Make sure to follow the requirements closely, and don't hesitate to reach out to the school's admissions office for any questions or clarifications

6. Get a plan in place for your new school 

Once you've completed the transfer application and submitted all of the required materials, you'll need to wait for the school to make a decision, which based on our hard work will certainly be positive. 

After you have been accepted, it’s time to work with the school’s transfer advisor to create a transfer plan. This plan will outline which of your previous credits will transfer to the new school and which classes you'll need to take to complete your degree.  

A transfer plan is critical for many reasons: 

  • It helps you understand how previous credits apply to your current degree 
  • Identifies any course prerequisites or equivalencies before enrolling
  • It helps you understand how long it will take to complete your degree
  • Helps you plan for financial aid or other resources to complete your degree 

7. Visit the college(s) you are considering transferring to

Most universities offer multiple opportunities a year for transfer students to visit, with special transfer sessions designed just for them.

These visits allow students to:

  • Meet with an academic advisor and review how you can use your credits towards your degree
  • See where you'll put your learning to action – tour campus and active learning spaces with a current student
  • Connect with a panel of current transfer students who are pursuing their passions and making an impact
  • Learn about the admissions process, financial aid & scholarship opportunities, and the campus community

Transferring colleges is a big decision, and visiting your potential new schools before making the move can help ensure you’re making the right choice. Many high school and college students may not think it’s necessary to visit their prospective colleges before transferring because they have already been to college. But, that’s not always true. 

Facilities play a critical role in creating an ideal learning environment. A campus that has superior facilities will help you gain the theoretical and practical knowledge and the experience necessary to succeed in your field. Some essential facilities to look for include well-equipped libraries, labs, specialized classrooms, seminar rooms, and trade-related equipment. Make sure the school you’re interested in offers the facilities you need to succeed academically.

Before making such an enormous decision, you need to ensure that the college you're attending will provide you with a fulfilling experience. Picture yourself on the campus, enjoying your studies and socializing, and objectively determine whether the college is suitable for you in terms of what you want to study, who you want to meet and where you want to spend the next few years of your life.

By visiting your potential new schools beforehand, you can help ensure that you are making the right choice.

8. Explore scholarship opportunities for transfer students 

When it comes to pursuing higher education as a transfer student, scholarship opportunities can be the key to unlocking your academic and financial potential. Many universities offer specialized scholarships designed specifically for transfer students.  

These scholarships are not only a testament to your hard work and dedication but also a way to ease the financial burden of pursuing a degree. To tap into these opportunities, start by researching the scholarship programs at your target university.  

Pay close attention to eligibility criteria and application deadlines, and make sure to highlight your unique experiences and achievements in your scholarship application.  

Scholarships not only provide financial support but also recognize your potential as a valuable addition to the university community. So, don't miss out on these valuable resources; explore the world of scholarships for transfer students and invest in your educational journey. 

9. Get involved on campus 

Transfer students bring valuable experience and knowledge to college campuses, making them important contributors to the college community. Don't hesitate to get involved in campus life and connect with fellow transfer students. 

You'll find clubs and groups specifically for transfer students, and you can also explore student government or volunteer opportunities. These activities will make your college experience more enriching and enjoyable.

10. Attend transfer orientation 

What is transfer orientation? Colleges and universities often have a special orientation to help new students feel comfortable on campus. These programs can make adjusting to a new school easier.  

During orientation, you'll get to know the campus, meet your academic advisors and teachers, and learn about important topics like picking classes and getting financial aid.  

You'll also have a chance to make friends with other students who are transferring, just like you. Going to orientation is a smart way to start your new journey as a transfer student. 

11. Understand you are not alone through this transition 

Transferring to a new college can initially appear overwhelming, and it's natural to experience anxiety during this transition. Parting ways with the familiar can form a range of emotions. However, it's crucial to recognize that you're not alone in this journey, and it is encouraged to ask questions. Numerous students have navigated this path successfully, not only surviving but excelling in their new academic environments.  

Give yourself time to adjust to a new campus. Adapting to a new academic environment as a transfer student can be challenging. The change in academic rigor and course offerings may feel overwhelming. However, it's essential to view these challenges as opportunities for growth.  

Seek guidance from advisors and mentors, connect with professors and peers, and embrace change to succeed in your new academic journey. 

With the essential support network, diligent research, and a positive mindset, you can transform this potentially daunting shift into a fulfilling adventure. Whether you seek advice on discovering your ideal fit, comprehending transfer regulations, or seeking reassurance, guidance is always available at your new institution. You've got this! 

12. Celebrate your college transfer journey  

Celebrate your successes, whether they're big or small, as you navigate the journey of transferring to a new college. It's easy to focus solely on the larger goals of adjusting to a new environment and thriving academically. However, every achievement along the way, no matter how minor, plays a crucial role in your overall success.  

Whether it's acing a challenging exam, making new friends, or adapting to campus life, these accomplishments deserve recognition. Celebrating your successes not only boosts your motivation but also reinforces a positive outlook on your college transfer journey. So, don't forget to pause and celebrate your wins – they're a testament to your hard work and resilience, ensuring a smoother transition to your new college adventure. 

13. Excel as a transfer student and raise your GPA 

As a transfer student, you have the incredible opportunity to start new and make the most of your second chance, even when it comes to raising your GPA from high school. Embrace this fresh beginning and use it to your advantage. 

Whether you're changing majors, seeking a better fit, or pursuing new passions, your transfer journey offers a clean slate. Seize this chance to excel academically, engage with professors, and forge new friendships while working towards improving your GPA. Don't forget to tap into the resources and support systems available at your new institution.  

By leveraging your second chance, you can not only enhance your academic performance but also create a rewarding and successful college experience that aligns with your goals and aspirations. Embrace the possibilities and make the most of your academic journey as a transfer student. 

14. Maximize your credit hours

When you're a new student after transferring, planning out your courses and credit hours becomes a critical step in ensuring a successful academic journey. Start by familiarizing yourself with your new university's course catalog and degree requirements. Consult with academic advisors to align your course selection with your academic and career goals.  

Make a well-thought-out plan that outlines the courses you need to take each semester, ensuring a balanced workload. Keep an eye on prerequisites and course availability to avoid scheduling conflicts.  

By meticulously planning your courses and credit hours, you can maximize the value of your transfer credits, stay on track for graduation, and make the most of your educational experience at your new institution. 

15. Embrace your new university culture 

Embrace your new university as a transfer student by taking pride in its unique culture and traditions. An exciting way to display your university spirit is by purchasing your first piece of college apparel. Your journey reflects your resilience and ambition, so wear your university colors with pride.

Being part of this vibrant community enhances your college experience and drives you towards success. Immerse yourself in your new institution's culture, and you'll truly feel at home. 


Transferring to a new college or university can be a great way to change your scenery and pursue your educational goals. By following the tips above, you can make the transfer process as seamless as possible.

At Central Michigan University, with over 200 academic programs to choose from, you'll find the perfect fit to embark on your academic journey with confidence. 

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: University Communications
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