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Sometimes selecting a college doesn’t work out the first time. Students change their mind about what they want to major in, or discover that they are better suited for life in a big city instead of a small town. The transferring process can feel like senior year all over again, but with early planning it can be easier.

Whether you are 100% sure you want to transfer to another college or just starting to acknowledge it as an option, here are 5 steps to take:

Know Your Deadlines

Check the transfer application deadlines for the schools you are considering as soon as possible. Maybe you’ve got months to work on your application, but you might only have days left so it’s good to know where you stand on time. Pay attention to the application requirements so you know if you must obtain recommendation letters before the deadline too.
It’s important to remember that even if you apply to transfer and are accepted, you are not required to accept the offer. Your feelings could change by the end of the semester, but at least you would have transferring as an option if you apply. Another important date to know is each college’s FAFSA deadline.

Contact Your College Advisor

The advisor assigned to you by your college is a great person to contact if transferring is on your mind. They can help you talk through your concerns, and if there may be another solution to them instead of transferring. Your advisor will be able to direct you to resources that may improve your college experience if you’re have difficulties such as roommate problems or academic struggles. A little help from your advisor may be all it takes to make you decide you don’t want to transfer since your situation has gotten better.

Take General Courses

Many colleges require students to take general courses in subjects such as English, science, and math in addition to major related courses. If you are considering transferring, it may be beneficial to take mostly or all general requirement courses. It can be easier to transfer a College Writing 101 course instead of a course for your intended major. At your current school, the journalism and communication major may be one program but at the school you hope to transfer to it could considered two separate majors. Courses for your major may still transfer but could end up counting as elective courses.

On the website of colleges you are considering transferring to, check for a list or other resource that tells you how your courses would transfer over and what requirements they would fill. If you’re having trouble finding this information, contact your transfer admissions counselor for a more personalized evaluation of your course history. Once you have an understanding of how your coursework will transfer and which courses you will need to take at the new college, consider how long it would take you to graduate after transferring.

Remember Financial Aid

A new school means a new financial aid package. As previously mentioned, you will need to fill out the FAFSA for the school you hope to transfer to. Do you have any outside scholarships, scholarships not issued by your current college, that would transfer with you? Contact the organization that issued your scholarship for information about if the scholarship can be used at other colleges than the one you attend and if there are other restricts such as only 4-year colleges or schools in certain states. Are you currently receiving federal grants that are specific to the state you have residency in? While the Federal Pell Grant can be received even if you attend school out of state, your in-state federal aid will likely not transfer with you. The school you are applying to may offer scholarships for transfer students, but check if an additional application is required to be considered for them.

Be Wise About Extracurriculars

Learning more about, and then joining, activities on campus can help you feel more connected to your college, or it can help you see if your interests are missing on campus. If you decide to apply for a program or activities with long term commitments such as student government, consider how transferring would impact the program before deciding to take on the role. An alternative is to take part in off-campus opportunities such as a part-time job or internship if you know you want to stay local if you do transfer.

Transferring occurs more common than it seems. If you speak to older adults in your life who attended college, changes are at least one of them was a transfer student. Ultimately, deciding to transfer is up to you and what’s best for your situation. Leaving behind friends and professors at your current school can be hard, but think about your long term goals and what it will take to achieve them.

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the author

Cara Claflin is a senior who attends a public school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Even though she plans to stay in Minnesota, attending college in a state that doesn’t have snowstorms in May is starting to sound appealing. She hopes to double major in journalism and marketing. Cara loves helping high school students make the most of all the resources available to them. At school, she is an editor for her school’s newspaper and takes part in a leadership group. When she has some free time, she enjoys dancing, listening to music, reading, and watching music and dance competition reality shows.

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