Unlike incoming freshman, transfer students typically are older, usually have a couple years of college and are expected to navigate this process largely on their own.

But that doesn’t make it any easier—especially writing the college application transfer essays.

In high school, most students are automatically matched up with counselors or their parents hire private college admissions counselors to help them through the process. For transfer students, it’s often up to you to seek help.

According to the National Association of College Admission Counseling, about one-third of college students will change schools—from both community colleges into four year schools, or from one four-year school to a different one.

That’s a lot of students out there trying to figure it all out. So at least you aren’t alone!

I also believe that students who want to transfer either know exactly what they want next or they only know they want out of their current school.

For those who know what they want next, good for you.

That will make writing your essays, figuring out what credits transfer, etc., a lot easier. Your head is in it, and you are motivated.

For students who just want to move on, and still are uncertain what exactly they want, this process can be that much more difficult.

My suggestion is that you make an extra effort to find outside help—either someone at your current school or even a private college counselor.

Chances are you need more support, whether it’s sorting through the complicated options or simply to help figure out your life at this point.

(For what it’s worth, I transferred college two times before graduating, and I know there can be some rough, lonely times in between.)

Here are some resources I have found helpful about the transfer process. (It’s kind of thin out there, but it’s a start.) Hope they help you, too!:

Transfer Students: Eight Things You Need to Know

Obama’s Lessons for Transfer Students

Firsthand Advice on College Tranfers

10 Tips For Prospective College Student Transfers

Lots of Helpful Articles Re Transferring

Four Tips for Transferring

I’m not a college counselor and only work with students on their college application essays.

From my end of the process, writing the main essay for the Common Application can be VERY confusing. If you missed my post on how to write the main transfer essay, here is my take on how to think about whether to write one generic essay or tailor it to specific colleges:

The Common Application allows students to send different essays to individual schools, and while I don’t think that’s typically necessary or a good idea for incoming freshman, I would think you would want to do this for your transfer essay. 

Here’s the Common App prompt for transfer students: “Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.”

I believe it would be difficult to answer this Common App transfer prompt, and have it be meaningful and effective, without including specifics about your target school(s).

I would advise you to recycle this essay, and simply tailor your answer for your different target schools.

But BE CAREFUL with this. The last thing you want to do is send an essay making the case why you belong at one college, and send it to a different one. OUCH!

Even though transfer essays are different from the typical personal statement prompts for core application essays for incoming freshmen, I believe it’s worth puting effort and some creativity into your transfer essays. 

The questions are more direct than those for incoming freshman (the “Who are you?” type of prompt), so for the most part, just answer them in a clear, honest fashion.

If you do get creative (such as, use an anecedote), do it at the start of your essay to help engage the reader.

Best of luck!