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What are Transfer Students?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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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.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By cupcake15 — On Apr 08, 2011

@Moldova -I wanted to add that that my nephew attended a state university for his first two years and then transferred to a pricey private school for his last two years.

The transfer student requirements allowed him to complete the transfer but many of his credits were lost because the school did not accept them. It is a good idea if you are looking to transfer like this to take a look at what the transfer college will accept before you take classes that won’t count toward your degree.

Knowing the transfer student requirements will save you time and money.

By Moldova — On Apr 06, 2011

I know that in the state of Florida there is an agreement between the state schools and the community colleges that states that as long as the community college student has met all of the requirements in order to obtain an Associate’s in Arts degree they will automatically granted admission into the state university system.

However, each college within each university has its own university admissions requirements that the student has to meet. For example, if a community college graduate is interested in apply at the college of business in a state university but they don’t meet the minimum grade point average requirement of a 2.5 then the student can apply to a different college within the university and will eventually be accepted but cannot attend the college of business.

Community college transfer students are guaranteed admissions to the university but they are not guaranteed admission within a particular college.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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