The Transfer Timeline

Posted October 04, 2007 by

Planning to transfer to a four-year college or university? This timeline will help you keep track of what you need to do–and when you need to do it!

Semester 1:

  • Meet with an advisor at the school you’re currently attending to discuss your transfer plans. Most community colleges offer extensive resources for students, including experienced counselors who can help you navigate the transfer process.
  • Start thinking seriously about your interests, aptitudes, and career goals, especially if you haven’t yet decided on a major. The better you know yourself and the more focused you are, the more likely you are to find the right college for your transfer.
  • Start researching colleges and universities you might be interested in attending. Consider such factors as location, size, degree programs, cost, academic and social environment, and job/internship opportunities. You’ll find information on many colleges and universities in these pages and online at, and at college’s own websites. You’ll also find helpful resources for transfer students at your local library or bookstore.
  • Attend transfer fairs. These are a great way to make contacts and get detailed information on many different colleges at once.
  • Look for schools that offer articulation agreements with your current school. Articulation agreements can greatly facilitate your transition to a new institution by guaranteeing transfer of your earned credits, as long as you maintain a good academic standing.

Semester 2:

  • Continue your college research. The more informed you are about different schools, the better your chances of choosing a college that’s the right fit for you.
  • Meet with your advisor regularly. Be sure to keep him or her apprised of your progress.
  • Develop a “short list” of four or five schools that match your goals and priorities and that are compatible with your academic record.
  • Contact the schools you’re most interested in and determine which of your credits will transfer to their degree program.
  • Consider satisfying some general education requirements before you transfer. Assuming the credits from your current school will transfer to the college you plan to attend, this will allow you to focus more on your area of interest once you’re at your new college.
  • Visit the colleges on your list, if possible. Nothing will give you a better sense of what a campus is like than visiting it yourself.
  • Talk to an admission counselor and at least one professor at the new school, ideally from the department you’re most interested in. Be sure to bring a list of questions.
  • Collect applications from the schools you plan to apply to. Start thinking about essay topics, recommendations, and other materials you’ll need to prepare. Be sure to give your recommendation writers plenty of time to complete their letters.
  • Carefully record and keep track of all application and material deadlines. Plan to apply as early as possible, especially to schools that admit students on a rolling basis.
  • Start looking into financial aid. Look for scholarships, loans, and grants, especially within your specific degree program. Don’t forget to file your FAFSA on time (as soon as possible after January 1st of the year you plan to enroll).
  • Consider taking summer courses and/or internships. You’ll gain an academic jump-start, valuable work experience, and either experience will help bolster your transfer application.

Semester 3:

  • Request a copy of your transcript, and review it carefully. Make sure the information is accurate and complete. In most cases, the school you’re currently attending will send your transcript directly to the colleges you’re applying to, so it’s important to ensure that the details are correct.
  • Schedule an interview at any schools you haven’t already visited. If you can’t visit in person, talk to admissions staff via phone or online. It’s also helpful to contact professors, students, and alumni for questions on courses and campus life.
  • Send applications to the schools you’re interested in attending. Make sure each application is filled out neatly, completely, and legibly, and that all required materials, including application fees, are included.
  • Keep a copy of all materials you send. Create a separate file for each college that includes your application, essays, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any other materials. Don’t forget to note the date you sent each application.

Semester 4:

  • Analyze your credit evaluation, which lists which courses and credits will transfer toward your bachelor’s degree, before you decide on a college or send a deposit.
  • Review your financial aid package and compare the bottom line for each college.
  • Consult with your transfer advisor before you make a final decision. He or she can help answer any questions you might have, or clarify details that might affect your choice.
  • Double-check deadlines for deposits, registration forms, and other materials, and get them in on time.
  • Take advantage of orientation programs and other opportunities for transfer students at your new school. Meeting other transfer students and getting acquainted with campus life will help ease the transition to your new school!

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