First Semester• Start ASAP! Your process to transfer to another college should start when you begin your first semester at your two-year school.
• Start thinking about a major. Talk with counselors, faculty members and representatives of four-year colleges about what is available. Research potential careers to help your decision-making process. Talking to a career counselor can help you define your strengths and interests, which will help you choose a major.
• Apply to both if possible. If you have a major in mind and know where you want to transfer to another college, check into applying to a joint/dual-admission program. It guarantees your transfer to a four-year school if you perform well at your community college.
• Attend transfer fairs. Obtain information from many four-year colleges and universities. Also meet with any four-year college reps who visit your campus.
• Make an appointment with a career/transfer counselor.
• Get on mailing lists. At college fairs and other college visits to campus, sign up for college and university publications. Pay particular attention to the material about transferring your credits and majors offered. Once you’re on a mailing list, you will receive invitations to open houses, information about scholarships, and brochures that address the major you are interested in studying.
• Visit the library. Pick up some reference books to learn the
details about specific colleges. Search for colleges with your major at nextSTEPmag.com/Match.
• Start looking for money. Start your search at nextSTEPmag.com/Scholarships. Your college’s career/transfer center will also have information on transfer scholarships.
• Talk to some faculty. E-mail admissions offices and department faculty of the colleges in which you’re interested for information about degree requirements and deadlines.
• Keep your counselor/adviser in the loop. Discuss your transfer to another college plans with the faculty members at your two-year college. They are important resources.
• Apply as early as possible. Several colleges consider transfer applications on a rolling admissions basis throughout the year. Planning to transfer in the spring? Apply no later than September or early October. Planning to transfer next fall? Apply by mid-November the year before.
• Create an application portfolio. Include an essay or writing sample that demonstrates your abilities.
• Submit a résumé. Have it critiqued first by a career counselor. Then ask some favorite professors to write you recommendations.
• Have an admissions interview so you can express your interest in a particular school. Interviews give admissions officers a sense of who you are beyond your college transcript.
• Ask your transfer office or career center for help in completing application forms. Also ask for clarification if needed and what other forms are required.
• Request your college transcript. Official copies of your transcript must be forwarded to the admissions office of the four-year schools to which you’re applying. Also send a cocurricular transcript if your two-year college makes them available. If you have attended other colleges, you must contact them and request that they send official transcripts as well. High school transcripts are not usually needed if you are transferring from a two-year college with an associate degree.
• Figure out what’s important to you. Identify the college characteristics you care about most. Use the following list to start:
Public or private
Rural, urban or suburban
Geographic location and distance from home
Undergraduate and graduate programs
Full-time or part-time status requirements
Financial aid available, including scholarships
Transfer student scholarship opportunities
Faculty-student ratio within major
Clubs and organizations
Recreational activities and intercollegiate sports
Internship and co-op opportunities
• Obtain, preferably from a faculty member, a letter of recommendation if required by the transfer college.
• Apply for admission. Follow all application procedures, including filling out any program-specific application forms, and make sure you’re aware of all application deadlines. This is particularly important for high-demand programs.
• Apply for need-based financial aid. Fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA, fafsa.ed.gov) as soon after Jan. 1 as possible.
• Visit the colleges to which you’ve been accepted. Schedule an appointment with an admissions officer three to four weeks in advance. Ask about opportunities to stay overnight in a dorm and sit in on classes. If you’re interested in a college sport, meet with the team’s coach. Also meet with a financial aid counselor if you have questions.
• Talk to other people. Contact alumni and current students to get their opinions of the school’s programs.
• Make sure your deposits are in by the deadline dates.
• Re-read your acceptance letter. Make sure you understand what you’re getting into. If you applied to a special program or major, make sure the letter indicates that you have been accepted into that particular program. Also check to make sure you have been accepted for the appropriate semester!
• Review your credit evaluation. If you have not received an evaluation, contact the admissions office and request one. The evaluation should state what courses will transfer, how they fit into your program and how many credits you will have remaining before you earn your bachelor’s degree. If you do not understand the document, review it with your transfer or career counselor.
• Read all your mail! Take advantage of the special orientation, advising and registration programs offered. Participation in these programs will help you understand the college’s environment, give you the chance to meet other transfer students and acquaint yourself with the opportunities available.
• Review your financial aid. Understand what each item in your package means and whether or not the package will be renewed each year. Understand your loans and what is involved in borrowing and paying loans back.
• The better prepared you are, the sooner you will feel comfortable at your four-year alma mater.
With contribution from G. Christopher Belle-Isle, director of the career center at Monroe Community College. Belle-Isle is a past president of the New York State Transfer and Articulation Association (NYSTAA), nystaa.org, which advocates for transfer students on two- and four-year campuses.