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Thinking About Transferring?

The Decision to Transfer

Are you thinking about transferring to a different college? Are you a Community College student looking to further your education? Are you looking for a different 4-year school because your educational purpose has changed? You are not alone! Over one third of four-year college graduates transfer schools.

Because the decision to transfer can be emotionally, financially, and physically draining, it is not a decision to be made hastily. Take time to figure out what is you need and want from the school, and if that school aligns with your education goals. Some things to consider when making the decision to transfer:

Educational Purpose

  • Have your career goals changed since your initial college decision?
  • What major/minors are you looking for? Are you seeking opportunities like internships, research, or other hands-on experience?
  • Where do students at that college get employed after graduation? In what fields?

Financial Stability

  • Have your finances changed? 
  • How much are you will to pay or finance each year?
  • Considering an in-state school? 


  • Is living in this area different than what you expected and not working for you?
  • Do you want to be closer to home?
  • Are you seeking opportunities that are available around you?

Social Situations

  • Is the social environment different than what you expected?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe? 

Whatever your reason for transfer, be sure to take your time and consider your options. Are your reasons things that can easily be fixed with just a few changes? Is your unhappiness preventing you from finding enjoyment in the things your current school has to offer? Or are your reasons for transfer things that can only be made better with a change in environment? Review your goals and desires and start searching for schools that have what you need to make the most of your college experience.

Choosing a College

College Selection Process

Make a List

Sit down and make a list of what you want academically, financially, and socially. Whether you have been in college for a few months or a few years, you have some experience to draw upon when you consider what you do and do not want in a college.

Start a New College Search

Using your new college criteria, utilize a college search engine such as Big Future to narrow down your list.

Meet With Your Advisor

Your academic advisor has probably been through this process before with other students. They can help you get the process started and provide guidance about how your completed coursework may transfer.

Determine Which Credits Will Transfer

When transferring, the receiving school (meaning your new college) has discretion over whether coursework is accepted as credit or not. Check the school’s website to see if there is an online tool to help you understand how many of your credits may transfer. Speak to the registrar’s offices at your current school and potential new schools for more information. If you are transferring from one of the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) institutions, use the NH Transfer Credit Database to plan and assess how the courses you have taken will transfer to any of the NH Transfer partner institutions. You may also be able to set up a meeting with the transfer counselor to talk about your options.

After a credit evaluation, you’ll be told how many of your credits will transfer to your potential new schools – use this information to help make your final decision. Remember, any credits that don’t transfer will need to be made up, which can require more time in school- and more money.

Talk With Professors in Your Major

An advisor can help you with the transfer process, but a professor within your major will guide you to the most suitable programs for your intended major. Speak with your professors about which schools have programs that match your professional goals and any contacts they have at these schools who can help.

Visit Colleges & Speak With Transfer Admissions

Talk with an admission counselor, visit different campuses, meet with a financial aid official, sit in on classes . . . take the time to explore and research potential schools. You can also explore websites and virtual opportunities to learn about schools without traveling. This time around, you know more about what you are looking for – and what you are not – so be certain you find these things in the schools to which you ultimately decide to apply.

The Application Process

Application Process

Different Applications and Deadlines

Many colleges have separate applications for freshman and transfer students. If you are using the Common Application, you have the option to create a first year or transfer account. If you created a first year account in the past, you can rollover this account to transfer status.

Common Application - It will allow you to apply to more than one school at once.

School Specific Applications - Most schools will have their own application if you choose to do this. Make sure to follow prompts for their transfer application.

When it comes to the application, some of the required material colleges will ask for are detailed below.

Personal Statement
As a transfer applicant, you may be asked to respond to a different personal statement or essay prompt than incoming freshmen.
  • Avoid reusing a personal statement you wrote while in high school because, chances are, it won’t fit the prompt. Even if it does fit, you’re missing out on the opportunity to share lessons learned while in college if you reuse something you wrote while in high school.
  • The transfer essay is generally narrower in focus. Think of this essay as your statement of purpose explaining why you have chosen to transfer or your opportunity to express who you are to the admissions office.

College Transcripts

You will need to have transcripts from each college you have attended – even if there was a gap in your education or you didn’t earn a degree at the institution – send to the school(s) to which you are applying.

If you do not feel that the transcripts accurately reflect your abilities as a student, address that in the personal statement, the additional information section of the Common Application, or in an optional essay response.

Some colleges may also require high school transcripts, even if you have completed an associate’s degree or the equivalent number of credits.

Apply to Your Major

Check your intended college’s policy for applying directly to a major. Some colleges require you to apply to your major in addition to applying for general admission.

The deadlines for applying to a specific major or program can vary – even within the same institution – and may be before the general transfer deadline.

Explain Your Reason for Transferring

When responding to questions about your reason for transferring, the main objective is to demonstrate you have made a thoughtful decision and you have a clear sense of why the new institution will be a better fit for you.

Check out these tips to help you respond to questions about transferring simply, factually, and creatively.

As you reflect on your experiences, avoid making negative comments about your current institution. Focus instead on what you have learned and your goals for the future.

Letters of Recommendation

Some schools will simply require a form to be completed by a current professor or advisor. Other schools will require at least one letter of recommendation.

Choose a faculty member who knows you well and is able to speak to your academic abilities and perhaps to your involvement outside of the classroom. Make a formal request of your professor – preferably in person, but email is also acceptable – to ask if they would be willing to write a letter or complete a form on your behalf. Explain the purpose of the recommendation and why you have chosen to ask this person.

Make an appointment to discuss the recommendation at least three weeks prior to the deadline and provide your professor with information about yourself (i.e. graded papers, a resume, a list of work and extracurricular experience) to help with the writing process.

Don’t forget to send a thank you letter to your recommender and let them know the outcome of your application(s)!

Standardized Test Scores

For transfer applicants, more emphasis is usually placed on academic performance in college than on standardized test scores.

At some colleges, submitting standardized test scores is optional for students who have earned a minimum number of college credits. If you have the option to submit scores, check the admissions statistics on the school website or Big Future for the college(s) you are interested in attending. If your scores are above the average test scores of admitted students, then it is in your best interest to send your scores.

I've Applied, Now What?


It’s important to keep your grades up throughout the transfer process. Sometimes, student don’t put in their best effort when they know they will be transferring. Keep in mind that you want as many credits to transfer over as possible, so maintaining good grades will ensure this will happen. Colleges will have a GPA requirements as well as specific grading requirements when transferring classes. 

Financial Aid

You’ll need to add the colleges that you are interested in attending to your Free Application from Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are transferring between your fall and spring semesters, you will want to speak with your current financial aid office to cancel any financial aid you have for the spring semester. This will allow the new schools to work on a Financial Aid Offer for you. For additional information regarding Financial Aid, please visit our FA section or book an appointment to talk through your specific situation.

Making a Final Decision

Utilize your resources, including NHHEAF’s Center for College Planning, to help you make the best decision for you. 

  • Compare transfer credit evaluations.
  • Compare your financial aid offers.
  • Speak with Residential Life and Housing to ensure each school has appropriate housing for transfer students (if needed). 
  • Deposit: Once you have decided on a school that checks all of your boxes, it’s time to send in your deposit! You may want to speak with admission to make sure that there isn’t a different deposit cost for transfer students.

Need Help?

NHHEAF’s Center for College Planning is dedicated to serving all students throughout their education and career planning journeys, for free!

Other Resources

Graduate School Search

Search graduate schools by programs, area of study, state, cost of tuition, and more.

Sample College Résumé

Provide Admission Counselors with a one-page personal profile of yourself.

The Common Application

Have questions about The Common Application? Check out their list of FAQs.