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How to Transfer Universities

Did you know 1/3 of students transfer schools before earning a college degree? Although the thought of transferring can be overwhelming and even scary, take heart. The process can be complicated, but if you do your research and are well-prepared, it can be the key to your success.

Reasons to Transfer

There are many reasons that students decide to transfer schools. Some examples might be:

  • You started at a university and realized it wasn’t the right fit. The school just didn’t work out and now you’re looking for alternative options to complete your degree.


  • You planned to attend a junior college/community college to finish general education requirements because you weren’t sure what you wanted to study. You wanted to save money and eventually transfer to a 4-year university.


  • You thought you wanted to start off in a trade-school program and realized that now you want to complete a four-year degree


  • Your financial situation has changed, and now you are looking for an alternative school that better fits your resources

Whatever your situation is, the goal is to complete a four-year degree and ensure that whatever schooling you have done up to this point can work towards your future degree.

Tips for Transfering Schools

If you are at a junior/community college (the biggest group of transfer students)

  • Start with the general education requirements needed to complete a degree at the new school. If you have done generals at a school already, explore if these will be accepted at the new school. Also, check to see if your IB/AP/A-levels will transfer over to the university. MAKE SURE to check if high school courses will work towards your degree. Certain universities might not take the AP Biology course you earned a 4 or 5 in, which was accepted at the community college or university you started at. Each university issues its own degree set by its own standards.

  • Consider what program you want to pursue. If it’s a STEM field or Liberal Arts, associate degrees are geared toward the discipline, so you might need to work in additional classes.

  • Check with the transfer center at the community college. They can help you navigate your current and past courses to prepare you for a four-year university.

  • Start talking to ALL the universities you are considering attending. Call the admissions office and explain your situation. Schools typically have a counselor assigned specifically to transfer students who can help prospective students.

If you are at a four-year university and want to transfer to another university:

  • Most universities want to retain you rather than have you transfer. They should take the time to understand your concerns and explore how they can help. Before you make the final decision, talk to the student services department, advisors, and professors. Maybe there is something you are missing or a way the school can adapt to accommodate your needs. Perhaps there are resources, programs, or opportunities available that you didn't realize were options. Explore all the angles before you make the final decision to transfer.

Tips for any enrolled student:

  • Before you officially withdraw, cover all your administrative tasks that may have fallen through the cracks. Make sure you have paid all tuition and fees, and returned library books. If you haven’t done this, your transcripts can be withheld and you won’t be considered for admission.

  • Thank any professors, students, or counselors who have helped you thus far. Be gracious to those who have been a part of your journey and take that good energy with you into your next phase.

  • Go to It's a great resource for any student looking to transfer schools.

No matter your reason for wanting to transfer schools, there are resources to help you be successful. Do your research and reach out to people who are equipped to help you. You are on your way--you got this!



Samantha Deleon is an active member of International ACAC, Study Illinois, and holds an MBA through the Illinois Institute of Technology. She always carves out time to Peloton or bike outdoors along Lake Michigan or around the Chicagoland area.

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