Are you thinking about transferring colleges?

If transferring is on your mind, you’re in good company. National Student Clearinghouse estimates that over one-third of college students transfer colleges at some point before earning their degree.

Things to consider when transferring colleges

Do you need a fresh start?

When it comes to earning a degree, the thought of transferring to a new college sounds daunting. There can be a lot of reasons a brand-new start at a new college or university can be beneficial. Maybe your current school is just the wrong fit for you. Perhaps, you feel like you didn’t start off the way you wanted to academically, and you think a change in environment will help. Social pressures are something to consider, too. Both too much socialization and not enough community can make a learning environment difficult.

A Change of Environment

Sometimes, a change of environment can be a huge difference-maker. There is a theory called “The Fresh Start Effect” that supports this idea. Psychology Today posted about it back in 2018, saying that, “Temporal landmarks act as a kind of mental reset button to help get us back on track and get us focused on our most cherished goals.” The thinking behind this is that changing schools might give you the boost you need to complete your goal of earning your degree.

According to the post, fresh starts work best if there was some sort of perceived failure beforehand. Whether you actually failed at meeting your goals, or you simply feel like the fit isn’t quite right at your current experience, a fresh start could be beneficial.


Have you carefully considered your options?

“Don’t overthink it” is common advice in today’s world as a way to avoid indecisiveness. However, when it comes to a bigger decision like transferring colleges, it’s wise to think through your options.

Jowan Williams is an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor at Concordia University Ann Arbor. As a transfer student himself, he shared his perspective on deciding to transfer: “I knew transferring was the right decision because of all the counsel and prayer that went into that decision. I didn’t just have a thought to transfer and leave. I weighed the options of staying and the options of leaving. With all of the prayer and counsel, I concluded that it was the best decision.”

Be specific.

Williams offered another piece of advice: “Take the experiences from your first time selecting a college and decide what went wrong in that process and what was successful. Use that to make things better this time around.” While it might be hard to do, take some time to think about what you realistically need to be successful in college.

Indeed offers a framework for creating a pro/con list. Visualizing why you should or shouldn’t move forward with transferring could be really helpful for you. Also, taking the time to write out your reasons will help you consider how important they are to you.


What challenges are there to transferring colleges?

Transferring for the right reasons can be totally worth it, but it’s not without its obstacles. First of all, transferring your actual course credits can be burdensome. Fortunately, many colleges have a clear process for this. (They usually have a maximum limit of how many transfer credits they allow in.) One transfer student recommends that you prepare to advocate for yourself when it comes to transfer credits. If you believe that you should have earned more transfer credits than you did, it helps to schedule a meeting with your academic advisor and/or program director to show them syllabi from completed coursework.

Making a change like this can mean starting over in a lot of ways. “The challenging thing for me was having to start over somewhere completely new. It’s a tough thing to do, but if you are sure you have chosen the right place then it will be worth growing the new connections,” Williams recalled, when asked what challenges he faced.

Figure out your priorities in a new school

Because you’d be “starting over” in some ways, it’s important to seek out opportunities that match your priorities. Making new friends at your college will require some energy, just like it did the first time around. If you’re hoping to meet people, find out what clubs and groups exist.

Also, if you’re wanting to focus more on your studies, be sure to thoroughly research your intended major before transferring. If you can, try to talk to a program director and come with questions about any lab or clinical experiences you might expect to do. This will help you decide if transferring colleges will provide you with the academic experience you’re hoping for.

If you’re needing more academic support than what you have now, finding out what’s available to you before you transfer is key. Colleges often have a learning resources center of some sort that can connect you with tutoring, quiet study/testing spaces, writing help, and other supports.


What are the potential benefits to transferring colleges?

There are some obvious benefits to transferring colleges, like finding the right degree program or a more fitting social setting. Williams realized that he wanted to make more professional connections than those available to him at the time.

Williams added, “Transferring to a new college gave me the opportunity to experience a different environment. Different environments help diversify your experiences that will be needed in the workforce. Those experiences also bring more connections and connections bring more opportunities.”

By the time you consider transferring colleges, whether you actually do transfer or not, you know what you want out of your college experience. If you transfer, you get the opportunity to start fresh and focus on whatever goals you’ve determined. You’ve thought about what you want, and now it’s time to make it happen.


Transferring to Concordia University Ann Arbor

If you’re wanting to change majors or simply find the right-fit school that feels like home, Concordia University Ann Arbor could be a good option for you.

Transferring to Concordia:

Concordia understands the needs of transfer students, so feel free to contact one of our admissions counselors to learn more about the process. Ultimately, the decision to transfer depends on your needs. Once you consider the benefits, the challenges, and all of the options you have, you have to answer this question:

Will I be able to achieve my goals?

Concordia University would be honored to talk with you more about your personal, academic, and career goals. We wish you all the best as you consider your next step on this journey.

— Vanessa Lane is the Content Marketing Lead at Concordia University and can be reached at When she's not at work, she can be found playing with her kids or watching NBA basketball with her husband.

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