Transfer students are students who have received credit for study at one institution before transferring to another. There are a number of reasons for students to opt to transfer, ranging from moving to wanting to access more educational opportunities. Most schools accept transfer students, and have programs in place to assist students with the transfer process.
In order to transfer, a student must submit an application. The application usually includes transcripts which confirm that the student has credits earned at another academic institution, and it may also include letters of recommendation and other supporting materials, depending on the school that the student is transferring into. Part of the application process includes an evaluation of the student to determine his or her class standing, based on the transcripts, and appropriate placements in math, language, science, and other classes, which may be determined with the use of placement tests.
In K-12 education, students transfer either because they move, or because they feel that a new school would offer better services. Public schools are usually required to accept transfers as long as the students reside in the districts served by the school, although the school can require transcripts and proof of immunizations before the student is allowed to attend classes. Students may also transfer between private schools, or between private and public schools. Transferring into a private school usually requires a more extensive application process because such schools can be selective.
On the college level, one of the most common reasons to transfer is that a student has completed academic prerequisites at a junior college to save money. These students apply to transfer into four year colleges after covering the first two years of study at a less expensive institution, and they are required to submit full applications including essays and letters of recommendation. Students may also transfer between four year colleges because their colleges do not meet their needs, or for other reasons.
Transfer students often face difficulty during the adjustment period as they get used to the students and policies at a new school. They can be at a disadvantage in some classes because their educations may not have fully prepared them for classes in a different school. This can be an especially large problem in math and language classes. Other students may also single out transfer students for attention in small schools where new students are easy to recognize, and a whole genre of films and novels surrounds the experience of new transfer students.