One-Third of College Students Transfer Schools

In many ways, higher education has turned into a marketing game, with colleges and universities across the country competing for students’ tuition dollars. Each school has its individual talking points that it likes to advertise — great pre-med program, outstanding study abroad, competitive athletics — but all colleges and universities must do one important thing to lure students in: convince them that they will be motivated, successful and happy at their school of choice.

A report by the National Student Clearing House Research Center finds that “one-third of all students transferred at least once within five years before earning a degree,” indicating that a huge number of students are dissatisfied with their original choice of school for higher education, or that they enrolled in one school with the intention of eventually transferring somewhere else (Education Week). There are dozens of reasons to transfer schools– but how can you use the transfer for your benefit?

The Well-Planned Transfer

As college costs continue to rise, a smart and well-timed transfer is a great way to save some money. Two years at an inexpensive community college can get a lot of general education requirements out of the way, allowing you to transfer to a four-year university and focus solely on classes for his or her major. And while transferring credits from one college to another can be tricky, transfer students are now so common that most institutions have experience with the process.

Another way to use a transfer to your advantage is to override mediocre high school grades. If you have your heart set on attending a prestigious university but don’t have the grades to get in right out of high school, a year or two of outstanding performance at a less selective college could convince the admissions counselors at your dream school that you are good enough to be admitted after all. High-quality transfer students are of increasing interest to prestigious schools around the country.

The Unintended Transfer

Clearly, a lot of students transfer because they are unhappy at their first choice of college. Social, academic, and health issues are all common reasons for students to drop out or transfer. Even if you feel like you  must transfer schools because of an unanticipated problem, the change could very well be for your benefit. Taking a year off to work, travel, or pursue volunteer opportunities is a great option for students who find themselves in over their heads during the first year of college.

Another common reason to transfer is because of changing academic interests. If you went into college to become a doctor but then decide to pursue interior design instead, don’t hesitate to find a school that better fits your needs. Transferring schools is not a sign of failure, and many people are better off after transferring than they would have been if they stuck it out at their first school.

What are your thoughts on transfer students? Is transferring just another aspect of self-designed education, much like online classes and individual majors?

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tiffany t.
tiffany t6 years ago

doesn't seem like a huge number to me.

Steven J.
Steven J6 years ago

I do enjoy the article, but I think there was one fact that was overlooked: the disparity in college grading policies. Some students are simply transferring to other colleges in order to have a higher G.P.A. Some schools use pluses and minuses that severely affect your G.P.A., even if you're one of the better students in that class(You can Google this). Personally, I'm against this because of several reasons, among them include; transferring back and forth between students, disparity among some colleges who don't use the same grading policy, which puts students from schools that do use the policy at a disadvantage, and other reasons.

To this end, me and a few friends put up this petition last year that we hope readers here will sign and spread to others:

School is already stressful enough, and college is even more so. There's no point in making it any difficult than it is, especially since we're already ranked low on the educational international scale. Instead, we should find other alternatives for improving education. We hope you take the time to sign our petition above, and spread it for us as well. Thanks.

Steve Jay

Juliet D.
judith sanders6 years ago

I think college students have to be smart consumers, too. I'm very thankful my Daughter took a bunch of AP classes, reducing the number of core college courses she'll have to take. I'm also glad she's attending a college just a couple of hours away. Once she's developed the necessary skills for living on her own, I'll support her choice to attend any school she feels will get her on the right track to her chosen career path.

Marna C.
Marna Cahn6 years ago

don't believe the hype you hear from places like LMU(maybe other small universities, that charge dearly) who attest to being concerned with every students success, or that the professors "care deeply" about their students. untrue if ever a word was spoken. a larger percentage of the professors seem pissed off that they only get to teach the undergrad students, and are quick and willing to "mark' a kid due to the length of hair or choice of clothes. we always thought that sending a kid to a private uni was an advantage but we have discovered that the education offered by public universities at least is offered not based upon what you wear or drive.

leanne mcivor
leanne Torio6 years ago

This should be the same for public schools - if the monopoly was taken away then there would be so much better service!!

Jean Rishel
Jean Rishel6 years ago

I teach at a community college and have many students who plan on transferring to a four year university. But another advantage is the ability to earn a specific degree approximately every two years. Two years at a community college earns you an Associates degree, two more years can earn you a Bachelors degree and two more years can earn you a Masters degree. These goals are very obtainable and if for some reason, your education is interrupted--you still have some sort of degree, while those who go to a four year university but have that kind of interruption can only say that they have some college. Each degree is a definite achievement and one you can state with pride.

Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson6 years ago

Don't a clear question. Some times it is the best and only thing to do.

Tim Cheung
Tim C6 years ago


Jane L6 years ago