Loyola University ChicagoLoyola University Chicago

What You Need to Know Before You Transfer

When you are transferring to a four-year school, what should you look for and what do you need to know before you make a change?

Discovering Your Program
Does the school you are looking at have your academic program of choice?  If you already know what you want to do, simple research will tell you if it is offered at the college you are looking at.   But what if you don’t know?  This is referred to as undeclared, undecided, or undiscovered.  It’s ok to be unsure.   Ask yourself then, does the college have a way to help you “discover” what you like and what you are good at and help you determine a career that fits these interests and talents?  Is the curriculum set up to let you explore different pathways and still complete your degree in a reasonable amount of time?  

How Long?
Students always ask me, “How many of my credits will transfer in to (college name)?  But the question you really want to ask is, “How long will it take for me to complete my degree?”.  This is key when talking about cost of college, financial aid, and in the end, you joining the workforce in your chosen career.  The longer it takes, the higher the cost not only for tuition, but for the lost wages when you are in school instead of at a career. 

Articulation Agreements
Articulation Agreements - do you know what they are?  Articulation Agreements are formal agreements (like partnerships) between two or more colleges and universities.  Articulations document transfer policies for a specific academic program or degree.  For example, an Associates in Early Childhood Education may transfer directly into an Elementary Education degree.  Many formal agreements then have an outline for you to complete the degree in a set amount of time and/or semesters.  Again, this is a key point when it comes to the previous question about how long it will take to complete the degree.

Comparing Colleges
Another point to consider is why you are leaving your current college and what you liked about your current college.  Did you like (or not like) the size?  Did you like (or not like) the location?  Did you like (or not like) the student activities that were offered?  Find out if the college you are considering is different, if it will provide what the other institution lacked.  And of course, being able to visit the college is always helpful to give you a feel of the campus.

Transfer Friendly
Does the school you’re transferring to have a “point person” for transfers, like a Transfer Coordinator?   Transferring is not the same as a freshman admission.  Financial aid options are different for transfers, credits and transcripts are involved, scholarships may change or may not be available to transfer students, and typically, transfer students may not receive an orientation like freshmen do.  The Transfer Coordinator position exists to help you navigate through those aspects.  I feel it is a disservice to transfer students, an almost unwelcoming environment at the college if there is not a specific person in admissions familiar with all the aspects of the process.

Rate what you feel is important and compare your choices.  But remember, that as a transfer you need to ask some different questions as well.  The goal is always to get your degree and obtain a worthwhile, rewarding career.  Transferring schools may be the perfect way to get there.  Just look before you leap!