Transfer Essays That Worked

The transfer essay prompt is going to be “why do you want to transfer.” There are a few important key points you are going to want hit. In many of our past blog posts, we have stressed the need to use the essay to expand upon a personality characteristic that is not expressed elsewhere in your application.  

For this essay, you’re not going to write about personality characteristics. Well, you actually are. But you’re going to subtly weave them, through a series of humble brags, throughout your piece.

Let Yourself Shine

Before you start, choose 1-2 characteristics that are not demonstrated elsewhere in your application and be conscious of including them, through a story that is relevant to your intended major.  

Be Specific, Not Elitist

A lot of kids want to transfer simply because they would prefer to be at a more prestigious school. The thing is, that’s all well and good, but you can’t just say that in your essay. You need to have a really specific academic reason to transfer. A lot of kids write “I want to transfer from Penn State to Penn because I want to go to Penn.” Don’t write that. If you’d like to go to Penn, the gist of your essay should be something to the effect of “I want to transfer to Penn because of the Politics, Philosophy, Economics major.” Only a handful of schools offer a comparable major, so writing about a specialized area of study you can’t get at your current university is a logical argument you could make.  

Also, make sure you strike a balance between extolling your prospective university and being kind to the one you currently attend. In other words, don’t make it about how much you dislike your current university.

Pick an Issue

As we just mentioned, your objective should be to build a case for why your choice school(s) is the best fit for what you want to pursue in life. One way to build your argument is to extrapolate an issue you intend to solve in the world. So, let’s say you want to study environmental engineering at Yale, you might consider discussing that you intend to build infrastructure to help cities adapt to rising sea levels. Make a connection between a class or professor that one could only find at Yale and then explain why that class or professor will help you achieve your goal. Your reasoning doesn’t have to be linear, either.  You can make a case for why studying law with a certain professor, the history of building codes, or another really niche major that exists only at your desired school is perfectly suited to help prepare you in your goal of building sustainable and adaptive infrastructure.

Don’t Forget the Venn Diagram

Your overarching objective should be to illustrate the Venn Diagram between you and the college without explicitly stating either of those things. Think of the dating world. You’re probably not going to match with someone on Bumble and lead with “hey, you and I both like dogs, are from the northeast, and have sisters.” The conversation is usually a bit more subtle than that. 


Need some help building a college list? Reach out to us. We’re experts in helping students match with schools that fit their needs.