6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Transferring Colleges

Written by Emily Ravet
Published on January 8, 2023 · Updated on May 28, 2023

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Transferring Colleges

Written by Emily Ravet
Published on January 8, 2023 · Updated on May 28, 2023

Transferring to a new university is difficult. The admissions process is slow and anxiety-inducing. Being a new student on campus again is difficult both physically and emotionally. 

I transferred from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to the University of Wisconsin-Madison after my sophomore year. When initially applying to universities, I dreamt of going to UW-Madison. But I was initially denied. 

I felt like I settled by going to UW-Milwaukee. Therefore, I decided to try to transfer in. 

Turns out, transferring ended up being the best decision in college.

1. Transferring is Common

Before starting your journey as a transfer student, understand that transferring universities is common. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, about 37.2 percent transfer once in their time at college.1 

For myself, I met many people who were also transfer students. It was helpful to speak to fellow transfer students. Because we related to each other, it was easier to create friendships.

2. Plan Ahead

You know the saying, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” So, make sure you take some time to plan your transition ahead of time to avoid any hiccups in the already stressful process. 

Here are a few things to plan for: 

Having somewhere to live, right away, will ease your nerves. Make sure to start your housing search soon after accepting the admissions decision.
They are there to help guide you throughout college so make sure to meet with them early on. 
I don’t know about everyone else, but one of my biggest worries about transferring was that all my credits won’t transfer over. Luckily, they did. But, it’s very important to know which ones do (and which ones don’t) before making the decision to transfer. 
Start by creating an outline of all the remaining courses you’ll need to take prior to graduation. This will make it much easier to make your schedules throughout the coming years. 
There are so many to choose from so having a good idea of the extracurriculars your new college offers and deciding which ones you want to join beforehand will help you in the long run. 

3. Housing is a Top Priority

As a freshman, choosing housing is usually a simple task with filling out forms to live in on-campus housing. But, if you’re a transfer student, you have more freedom in housing. 

The best choice for a transfer student is to live on-campus. 

  • On-campus housing allows for social interaction with other students, most of which are new. 
  • Some universities actually have dedicated housing specifically for transfer students.  

I get it, some transfer students are just plain sick of on-campus housing. If that’s the case for you, living in off-campus housing might be better. 

  • Find off-campus housing in the form of a studio or one-bedroom apartment. 
  • It’s ideal to live within five to ten minutes of walking distance of campus. 

4. Arrive On-Campus Early

When I began as a transfer student, I moved in two weeks before the first day of classes. I made this decision partly because I had a new job and it started around this time. However, I was thankful to have that time to get familiar with the new campus. 

Arrive at least 1 week before classes start. During that week, spend time walking through campus and locate important places like, 

  • The location of your college
  • The dining hall
  • The gym
  • The libraries 

I personally transferred to a much larger campus. Without that extra time spent walking before classes started, I would have been lost going to class and other events on campus.

5. Join Extracurricular Activities

When I met with my new advisor after graduating, they told me I had to join two clubs. 

  • One club for professional development
  • One club for fun 

I joined a business networking club, and Her Campus. Her Campus is a women-focused club that publishes blog posts on its national website. The business networking club allowed me to make connections in my major. Then, Her Campus allowed me to make friends on campus. Both extracurriculars served a purpose in my college experience. 

6. Work On-Campus (if you can)

As I mentioned previously, I moved to my new campus two weeks prior to classes beginning. This was due to my on-campus job. While I was able to manage working on-campus with my course load, not everyone is able to do so. 

If you’re considering working on-campus, I would advise you to begin your job before classes start or wait at least 1 month after classes start. 

Transferring to a different university is difficult. The time of adjustment comes with many ups and downs. But it brings change, growth, and self-improvement!

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