Ever felt like you’ve “outgrown” your current university? Ever felt like you’re ready to explore the opportunities that another college has to offer? You can submit a transfer application! It’s largely the same as a regular first-year application, but with a few nuances that I’ll mention below. Most spring transfer application deadlines have already passed, but you still have plenty of time to apply for fall transfer!
(This is me singing with my a cappella group at Princeton.)
1. You’ll still need your transcript… but which one? You should check the requirements of the university that you’re applying to: ALL universities will require your official university transcript, but depending on the number of credits that you’ve already earned, you may also have to send your official high school transcript as well. (What does "official" mean? It means that it cannot be submitted by the student. Usually, this means that universities/schools send these documents via a secure document-sending service like Parchment. Sometimes, universities allow for documents to be sent directly by the registrar or administrator, i.e. anyone with an official email address. Others still will require that these documents come by paper mail!)
2. Letters of recommendation are often optional for transfer applications-- but you should still submit them, if you can. The more selective a university, the more it will require. (For example, Johns Hopkins requires one, and MIT/Princeton/Stanford require two.) The transfer application recommender form is more involved than it is for regular first-year applicants: they have to rate a number of your personal characteristics, in addition to submitting a letter. We usually recommend that students submit two professorial recommendations and one recommendation from an employer, internship director, etc. Some schools will also allow for a recommendation from a high school official.
3. If you’re applying through the Common App, you’ll also need a university administrator to fill out something called the College Report, which is a form that attests to your academic standing. That will also need to be submitted directly from your home institution to the one that you’re applying to.
4. You’ll need to write essays! These, of course, depend on the places where you’re applying, but if you apply through the Common App, you’ll need to write a personal statement, at the very least. The more selective a university, the more essays you’ll likely have to write.
5. If you’re applying from abroad, you’ll need to ensure that your TOEFL/IELTS scores are sent directly from the testing agency to the universities that you are applying to.
You should also check individual universities’ websites to find about their requirements. Some will require you to submit a resume and list of current courses, while others may require you to submit a declaration of finances. You should also check to see how many credits you need to have earned at your home institution before applying to another one. Good luck!