Once you’ve gone through the college application process, experienced the elation of acceptance and the agony of rejection, it’s hard to think of doing it all over again but if you want to transfer, there’s little recourse.

There are myriad reasons why a student would want to transfer. Maybe they’re at a community college or enrolled in a trade school and want to put their credits toward a bachelor’s degree. Perhaps they’ve decided to switch their major and their current institution’s program for it is lacking. It’s also a possibility that they’re not a fan of campus life overall and would prefer to live and learn in a different kind of environment. Whatever the motive may be, actually transferring can require more paperwork and fees than an initial acceptance did. Should you stick it out at your current school or is switching worth the additional legwork?

If you’re just swapping your school for one in a warmer climate or with better dorms, you need to first figure out if you’re more interested in the picture your favorite television show painted of college or the forum for learning and life experience it really is. When your rationale has merit, however, put your plan in motion as soon as possible. First, visit the school you are interested in transferring to or speak to students (specifically those in your field of study) currently enrolled there. Do you feel comfortable on the campus? Were you impressed with the classes you observed? What do your soon-to-be classmates have to say about the program and what do they think of the school as a whole? This kind of information is invaluable because it comes straight from the source; chances are your transfer plans to that school will be put on hold if everyone you talk to is planning on transferring out.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about 1 in 3 students who enroll in either a two- or four-year college will probably transfer at some point and admissions committees know this. They reserve a limited amount of spots each semester for transfer students and though they are not first come first serve, submitting your application materials in a timely manner certainly won’t hurt your chances. The school may request your high school transcripts and standardized test scores but transfer admission is determined by your college transcript, credits earned so far and what professors say about you in their recommendation letters. Just remember that the competition for transfer admission is fierce – perhaps even more so than freshman admission – and the more you can stand out from the competition, the better your chances of admission will be.

Lastly, consider the cost associated with your school of choice. If you are transferring to a private school from a state or community college, the financial increase could be more than you were expecting even when financial aid is factored in. Will your savings cover the difference? Are you prepared to take out additional loans if you get accepted? Do you know what kind of scholarships and grants are out there for transfer students? On the other hand, transferring from a private institution to a state school or from a four-year university to a community college could mean money back in your pocket…what will you do with these extra funds? (Hopefully practice good money management skills!)

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