How to Transfer

Millions of people transfer schools each year for a hugely diverse number of reasons. Some are looking for an academic program they didn’t know they’d pursue; some want a smaller community; some feel claustrophobic in the small school they picked because they thought it’d feel cozy; some are just unhappy with their original choice but can’t quite put their finger on it.

Whatever your reason, if you’re even considering transferring you should apply to a place or two. It isn’t as easy as just casually throwing an application in the ring, though. Transferring is like applying to college for the first time, but you don’t have the support of your college counselors or high school teachers and your parents probably aren’t breathing over your shoulder reminding you to get it done (which is probably actually a good thing). You also have the normal stressors any college student has to deal with. Because of this, it’s imperative that you create an action plan for your transfer application process.

This action plan should be based on the thing you have the least control over: due dates.

Most transfer applications are due between March 1st and March 15th. Mark this on your calendar. If you don’t have one, buy one and put it on your wall. If you don’t want one on your wall, put it in a notebook. If you’re at all close to being a normal college kid, also put it on the calendar on your computer/phone.

Then mark the date two weeks ahead of each deadline. Then mark a month ahead. Then mark two months ahead.

Two Months Before the Due Date

Two months before the deadline you should order your test scores and contact your high school for an official transcript. Order transcripts from any colleges you attended previously, if applicable, and talk to your college’s office about their transcript ordering process. You should also begin to write all your supplements and write the first draft of your new essay.

Perhaps most importantly, you should connect with the professors you would like to write recommendations for you. Do not ask professors to write you a recommendation in an email. You need to set up a meeting with each professor and have a real conversation with them.

One Month Before the Due Date

One month before the application due date, confirm that the professors will be writing your recommendations and remind them of the submission process. You should also have solid drafts of your supplements, and be on the second draft of your essay.

Two Weeks Before the Due Date

Two weeks before the application due date, confirm that all transcripts have been sent as well as all scores and recommendations. Also, request feedback on your supplements and essays if you’d like a second or third opinion.

One Week Before the Due Date

Submit early! We encourage our students to beat the deadline and, if you’re on top of your schedule, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Throughout this process, remember to check everything with each school and to bold and highlight those due dates. And remember that early is better than on time, but done is better than perfect.


*This is the typical checklist, but confirm all items (especially any additional ones) with the requirements of the specific schools to which you’d like to apply.

  • SAT/ACT Scores (if required)
  • Official High School Transcript
  • Official College Transcripts (of all colleges attended)
  • Professor recommendation(s)
  • Essay (typically Common Application)
  • Application Supplements
  • Application fee or fee waiver

Need help keeping track of the chaos? We’re pros at this.