25 Jan 2017

Writing The College Transfer Essay

Now that college applications are all in, I’ve been receiving some requests to help with Transfer applications. Although I’ve written a couple things on regular Freshmen applications, I haven’t written much about transferring universities. It is a whole different realm, and the approach isn’t the same.

Why do you even want to transfer?

First, you must think about why you want to transfer in the first place. Maybe you want to get into a better school, or maybe you want to join your high school friends at X University. Perhaps you want a better social scene or you hate everyone at your current school. The last example might be a bit extreme, but the short of it is that you don’t like where you are. Otherwise, why would you even consider transferring? Answering this question is important because that will be the first question asked on the application.

The Common App Transfer Application ask this version of the question: “Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.” Remember how I asked you to think about why you want to transfer? Now while you might seriously want to go to a school that has more parties, that should not go into your answer. Below, I list the things you should think about for your response.

1) Focus on the positives instead of the negatives

So you hate your current school. Maybe it’s too boring. Maybe the other kids are too mean. It doesn’t matter. You should not badmouth your old school (this advice applies to you later in life too when you want to switch jobs). You can mention something small about your current school as a comparison to your ideal university. However, you shouldn’t focus on the negative aspects of where you’re at. Most of your writing should address why you’re interested in a particular school. What programs do they offer that you can’t currently access? Are you looking for a bigger city? A bigger campus or a more intimate school? Explain your reasoning and why.

2) Paint a picture of who you are

You’re one year out of high school now. You should have a clearer idea of what you want out of college. Explain your goals and why a different university would better match your academic mission. Like I said, maybe your reasoning for switching school is that your current school is really a dud and you want to party more. You can use phrasing such as “looking for a more socially vibrant atmosphere” but that should not be the picture you give. Talk about what you did in your first year that makes you YOU. Did you join any organizations? What are you looking for at your target school? What do you want to do in the future?

3) Stroke the ego of your target school a little

I’m not saying you should suck up to your target school, but you should talk about why it will be a better fit for you than your current school. And if you can be specific, that’s even better. For example, you might want to mention that X University has a world-renown Psychology Department and that you always wanted to study with a certain professor. You like that Joe Schmoe College has “not just well-respected instructors, but also well-respected leaders in their field.” Everyone likes to feel special. Make your target school melt in your arm.

There are other things you can look out for, but the general tips above should be good enough to get you started. If you have any more questions, feel free to post them below or contact us. Good luck!

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