Parenting Your College Transfer Student: Navigating the Transfer Process

In our last post, we considered some ways in which you might help your college student think about a transfer to another college.  Here, we consider how to help your student through the actual transfer process itself.  Our next post will examine ways in which you can support your new transfer student.

 Once your college student has made a decision to transfer to another college, there are some important tasks to be done.

Gather lots of information about potential colleges and/or programs.

 Your student may know exactly where he wants to transfer, or he may be looking for the appropriate school.  The more information he can gather, the more smoothly the process will go.  One advantage that your student now has is the knowledge he has gained through the time he has spent at his current school.  As he thinks about the reasons for transferring, he will think of questions he wants to be sure that he asks at the new school.  What are his priorities?  What wasn’t working (if anything) at the current school?  Encourage him to take time to look carefully at the new institution.  Study the website.  Visit the school.  Stay overnight on campus if possible.  Talk to current students.  Meet with admissions or advising personnel at the new school. Ask lots of questions.

Ask specific questions about the transfer process.

 Encourage your student not only to consider the school and its programs, but also to ask about the transfer process itself.  What are application deadlines?  Financial aid deadlines and financial aid availability for transfer students?  What courses will transfer?  Is there a minimum GPA requirement?  When will your student know what courses will transfer?  Is there a maximum number of credits that can be transferred?  What courses will be required at the new school?

Understand that the process takes time and is complex.

 Much like the process of applying to college in the first place, the transfer process requires several important pieces of information to all come together.  The admissions office will need the application, financial aid forms, and the student’s current transcript.

Once your student applies and is accepted, someone at the college will look at each course on the transcript to decide whether it will transfer. There is probably a minimum grade requirement for a course to transfer.   Courses are evaluated for compatibility with the courses offered by the accepting institution. Some schools are very generous in their acceptance of credits from other institutions, and some are more restrictive.   This is often a complex process which involves finding course descriptions and requirements from the sending institution.  Allow the college time to complete the process carefully.  Although your student may be anxious to get started choosing her classes at the new school, she may need to be patient.  It will be to your student’s benefit to give the college time to gather all the necessary information.

Start early, pay attention to deadlines, and keep good records.

 Because the process takes time, the earlier your student can get the process started, the less stressful it will be.  Pay close attention to deadlines – especially for financial aid.  Encourage your student to keep careful records of what has been sent, dates of phone conversations, and names of people with whom she has spoken.  This is especially helpful if she needs to follow up on any conversations.  She should also follow up on transcript requests to make sure the new institution has received all necessary information.

Don’t burn bridges at your student’s current institution.

 Even though your student expects to transfer, perhaps at the end of the current term, there are some important things for him to consider as he finishes up.  The new institution will need a final transcript with grades.  He should keep his studying going.  Although everything will hopefully go smoothly with the transfer, circumstances can always change.  Your student should register for classes for the next semester, go ahead with housing selection, prepare for continuing the next semester.  It is relatively simple to cancel classes or housing reservations when the transfer is finalized.  It may be difficult to get appropriate classes or housing if your student should decide to stay.

Hopefully, your student has made an informed and considered decision about whether or not to transfer and has followed through carefully on the process.  In our next post, we’ll consider how to help him settle in to his new situation.

Related Posts:

Parenting Your College Transfer Student:  The Decision to Transfer

Parenting Your College Transfer Student: Supporting Your New Transfer Student

What Is a College Articulation Agreement?

6 thoughts on “Parenting Your College Transfer Student: Navigating the Transfer Process”

  1. Anxious Mom –
    This is a difficult situation, but it sounds as though perhaps a break from school might be what your son needs. Sometimes, taking a break and just getting some kind of job (even if it is waiting tables or bagging groceries) can give a student time to think about what matters and also time to mature. While taking a break, your son might experiment with his poetry and music to see what happens. Perhaps rather than traditional college, some kind of music program might be appealing. Not all students follow the traditional path or timetable. It may take your son more time to decide on his path. After a break, he might be ready to ease in part time through something like a continuing education program. It may take some experimentation, but I’m sure with time, patience, and your support, he will find a path.

  2. What do you recommend for a student who completed their first semester and did really well but unfortunately did not do well at all in the following semesters. Started out as an engineering major. Now 4 years out of high school, has only 22 credits. He realizes the importance of college but has a hard time finding interest in school. And still not sure what career path he wants to take. He’s taken community college classes too but didn’t complete. If college is not for him, I’m not sure what other path he should take. GPA is now under 2.0 so I don’t think anyone would even allow a transfer in. So I’m thinking he would probably have to start over somewhere in Continuing Ed? I’m just out of ideas. Been trying to get him to see a career counselor at his last school since he’s still technically enrolled even though he has withdrawn from his classes. He states he wants to register for the winter session but I wonder if he will complete the session. He does have an interest in writing poetry and music but doesn’t seem to know how to pursue it on a path that will allow him to be successful with it. He doesn’t feel like his music is good enough yet to share. I don’t know what else to do at this point.

  3. Ok, thanks. It is a lot to think about. I know he wants to make an intelligent choice, and it would be easier to have all the information available at one time for review. Thanks for writing about the process!

  4. Hi – and thanks for your comment. It illustrates how complex the transfer process can be. I’d suggest that your son talk to as many people at both schools as he can to try to get some answers. If he pays a housing deposit and then does not attend, how much will he lose? It might be worth making the deposit to reserve space. He can ask his old school what would be involved in being readmitted if he does not ultimately attend the new school? He should also ask the old school whether he could get his previous financial aid back. The personnel at both schools have dealt with many transfer situations before, and timing is always tight. Seek the advice of those involved.

  5. My son is hoping to transfer at the end of the semester. He was accepted to the school and has 2 weeks to pay the deposit. He thought he had housing lined up, but it fell through. He will now need to apply for the (limited) University housing. Financial aid doesn’t come for at least a week, but the housing application opens in two days and is on a first-come basis. Is it ok to pay the deposit to the new school & get on the housing list to hold a spot? What if my son finds out the financial aid at the new school is not as good as he hoped and he prefers to stay at his current school? Can he legally and ethically do this?


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