For any number of reasons, you might not want to be at your home institution anymore: your classes might not be challenging enough; you might not be getting the attention you need from your professors; or you might even feel like you’ve grown so much since applying originally that you’re now a contender for a more prestigious institution. These are all reasons I’ve heard, and I invite you to ask yourself the following questions before pursuing a transfer application:
What is the real reason that you want to transfer? Is it because you genuinely want to be challenged more? Or it is just because you want a brand name on your resume? If it’s the latter, are you ready to put in the work at a new institution? Consider that transferring is unlikely to lessen your workload -- and that wanting prestige does not make for a compelling application.
Are you ready to put in the work for your transfer application? It is no less work -- if not more -- than a first-year college application. You’ll need to gather your transcripts, fill out the college report, ask for recommendation letters, and more.
Have you looked at the financial aid policy for transfer students? Some universities may not grant financial aid to transfer students, especially international ones (who are usually expected to pay full price).
Have you considered all of the weird requirements that universities have? Some will require you to send a bank statement to prove that you can pay for your education, and Princeton requires applicants to submit a graded essay in English. Make sure that you can find these things!
Can you secure letters of recommendation? Some professors won’t be thrilled about writing letters for those who are leaving their university. Make sure to start working on this early.
I hope that this quick list is helpful. I wish you a successful transfer application!