Deciding Whether To Transfer Colleges: Facts, Figures & Other Considerations

Transfer Colleges
“Should I transfer?” It’s a question countless students considering whether to transfer colleges ask.

Should I Transfer Colleges? Choosing whether or not to transfer is a decision many students ponder, but can be easier to make if they consider certain facts and statistics.

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It’s that time of the year—temperatures have risen, spring semester has ended, and college students are considering whether they should transfer schools. With fall admission application deadlines fast approaching, countless college students are contemplating the idea of leaving their current institution to attend another that better suits their needs. Yet, a significant portion of those students may not be quite ready to click “send” on their applications.

A Little Hesitation

Reasons abound as to why students may be hesitant to transfer. Some students interpret their dissatisfaction with their current school choice as failure or defeat. Others may hesitate because they anticipate social isolation in an unfamiliar college or university.

Students who enrolled in colleges away from where they grew up may miss their family and friends. They may miss the good home cooking. They may simply yearn for all the familiar pleasantries and creature comforts associated with transferring home.

Not only are transfer students anything but failures, they are also not alone. Every semester, an infinite number of students ask themselves “Should I transfer colleges?” “Do college credits expire?” and “How do I transfer college credits?” While some may conclude it’s best to stay where they are, others decide to take that step forward and search for success elsewhere.


The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), an organization that informs students who are looking to continue their education after high school, compiled a 2014 State of College Admission Report, which concludes that there are more transfer students than you probably think. (Team Morey includes several transfer students, one whom transferred from Nassau Community College to Hofstra University, utilizing one of its transfer-friendly articulation agreements. What is an articulation agreement? A special arrangement between schools that maximize your transfer credits!).

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The NACAC cites the National Student Clearinghouse—a nonprofit organization that conducts research on educational trends and patterns—which in a 2015 report found “About one-third of the 2.8 million students who began postsecondary education in Fall 2006 had transferred at least once in the following five years, and almost half (46 percent) of students who completed a four-year degree in 2013-14 had enrolled in a two-year institution at some point in the previous 10 years.”

This indicates that in recent years specifically, the number of college transfer students versus non-transfer students is pretty split down the middle. Some students even transfer more than once before they earn their bachelor’s degree.

The report also discusses NACAC’s 2013 Admissions Trends Survey, which reveals that 44.4 percent of institutions saw an increase in transfer applicants throughout the past five years and 37.6 percent saw an increase in enrollment.

Additionally, the number of students transferring from community colleges, or two-year schools, is about the same as from four-year schools.

“Admission Trends Survey respondents reported that, on average, transfer populations on their campuses were roughly evenly divided between students who transferred from community colleges and those who transferred from other four-year institutions,” the report notes.

Although transfer students have to adjust to their new surroundings, the NACAC points out that more often than not, transfer students finish their studies and earn their degree—associate or bachelor’s degree—just as other non-transfer students do, specifically when it comes to transferring from community colleges.

The report refers back to the National Student Clearinghouse, stating that 60 percent of students who first attended a two-year school and then transferred to a four-year school earned a bachelor’s degree. Some even continued their education, earning advanced degrees, as well. This exemplifies how transfer students can be just as successful as those who do not transfer.

Just because some students follow a different path than others doesn’t mean they’re incapable of thriving in college or in their post-college careers. When contemplating transferring colleges, you should decide sooner rather than later, however. It’s also important to weigh some of the related options when making such a decision, such as whether you should live on campus or off campus as a transfer student.

Running through a list of other helpful transfer tidbits in a Transfer Student Checklist can also prove beneficial in advising this all-important decision. Beginning your research early can help ensure a smooth, easy transition to the college of your dreams!

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