The Elements of a Great Transfer Application
A transfer application is an opportunity to show a university what you will bring to their campus, both in and out of the classroom, and to give a university who took a pass on you as a high school senior a chance to realize their mistake!
A Great Transfer app will have 6 main components. Here they are in rough order of importance:
- College Grades - The admissions committee no longer has to wonder how you will fare in a college-level setting. You have a real college track record now, and this is what a transfer admissions committee will look first and hardest. What courses did you choose to take? What were your grades? Work hard, keep those grades up, and challenge yourself with a rigorous curriculum.
- Essays - This is where the admissions committee gets to hear directly from you. Colleges want students who will take full advantage of the environment they provide, so you need to tell them what you will contribute to, and how you will thrive on their campus, both in and out of the classroom. The essay is the place to do it. Your admissions consultant has read thousands of essays over the years, and will help you craft a memorable and compelling transfer essay. No more waxing poetic about your place of perfect contentment or the hard lessons you learned from failure. The transfer common app essay prompt is very straight forward: “Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.” (250-650 words) In other words - “Why do you want to transfer?” Good question. In order to have a strong transfer application, you need to have a good answer. A good answer, by the way, is not, “My school is not rated very high in the US News Rankings, “ or, “My parents were really disappointed about where I was accepted when I was a senior.” A good answer will show that you have very specific educational goals that are not being met by your current institution, and will explain why the school to which are applying is a perfect match for those goals. Which leads to item #3…
- Choice of College - You need to pick schools that match your (yet unmet) educational needs perfectly, and in ways that the school is particularly proud of. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this. No matter how good your grades, you will not be admitted to a school as a transfer student unless you can clearly, compellingly illustrate how your new school offers something your current school does not, other than a more prestigious window sticker for your mom’s car. Your admissions consultant can help you find and research these schools and programs.
- SAT/ACT scores - This varies by institution, but most elite schools do ask for SAT scores. This is a chance to have your revenge on a test that may have ruined your chances last time around. Take the chance. You are almost certainly a much stronger reader and writer than you were a year or two, with a more erudite vocabulary and better test taking skills. Do some test preparation (can we help?…of course we can) and turn a weakness into a strength! Unless you have been keeping up with division using remainders, 8th and 9th grade algebra and geometry, and the Pythagorean theorem just for fun, you will likely need to review some SAT math concepts. Just like back in high school, the SAT/ACT score is the only consistent, universal metric across all applications, and because grade inflation is rampant in many colleges, the SAT/ACT is often carefully considered.
- Professor Recommendations - Are you the student who shows up only half the time, wanders into class 10 minutes late, sits in the back, and facebook chats with pals? Or are you the one who arrives early, sits in the front row, attentively takes notes, asks good, thoughtful questions after class, goes to office hours to discuss the material in depth, and brings a passion and engagement to discussion sections? Your college professors are the ones who will answer this question. So give them something to write about! Get your head in the game and engage college for the once-in-a-lifetime fertile learning environment that it is. Whether you transfer or not, you will be glad you did.
- Campus and Community Engagement - (in high school these were known as extracurriculars) What have you been doing with yourself over the last year or so when you have not been studying? Sports, clubs, community outreach, lab research, writing for a college publication? It’s not like high school where you should feel like you have to do stuff because it will look good on your college app. Ug! Those days are over; this is life now, and you should do the things you love to do with passion and consistency. If you are doing that, you are likely getting some good results and learning about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you achieve your goals and make your way in the world. Congrats! That’s what they want to see! This is the difference between the dog wagging the tail, and the tail wagging the dog. (In this particular metaphor, you and your dreams and goals are the dog, and your activities are the tail…)