Are you thinking about transferring credits to a new college?

Things to consider when transferring credits to a new college

If transferring college credits 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.

Do you need a fresh perspective?

When it comes to earning a degree, the thought of transferring to a new college sounds daunting. There can be a lot of reasons transferring your credits to a different 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.


How can you stay on track for your degree?

Concordia University Wisconsin Transfer Admissions Counselor Linda Kluge suggests mapping out a plan right away to see what’s realistic. “Making sure students can stay on-track for their degree program is so important,” she stated. Mapping out this plan means talking through expectations with your admissions counselor and academic advisor.

Transferring does not mean starting over

While you might hear the phrase “starting over” quite a bit throughout your journey, you’re not really starting from scratch. Kluge emphasizes what transferring actually means. “Even if you change majors,” Kluge says, “your previous credits won’t get wiped out. While you may not be able to use all of them, you will likely use some of them.”

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.

“When looking at other schools,” Kluge suggests, “compare apples to apples. Credits, money, and financial aid all matter. Get a full picture of each of your options before making your decision to transfer.”

Kluge noted that she hears from students that one school might advertise that their program is shorter, but that it’s not counting the core requirements. Make sure that you’re getting a complete picture before finalizing your decision. 

Your college experience needs to work for you.

At the end of the day, find the best fit for you. Don’t transfer your credits or stay at a school because someone else wants you to, or it’s the quickest way out. Kluge’s best advice is this: “Your degree needs to work for you. Be true to yourself. Why would you waste four years if it’s not going to work for you?”

Erin McCraw is an Admissions Counselor at Concordia University Wisconsin. She was also a transfer student herself.

“The largest hurdle I had to overcome during the transfer process,” she said,  “was the fear of starting over. As a senior in high school, I thought I knew exactly what career I wanted to pursue and what college would lead me there. It took courage to recognize when change was needed, and it took faith to willingly jump into a new collegiate experience.”

Be specific.

Know why you want to transfer in the first place. It’s important to list the factors that you feel aren’t working out at your current school. This will allow you to address what went wrong for you and find a better fit school.

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 credits?

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. Nowadays, most of your questions can be answered before you transfer. Kluge says, “Students submit their syllabi information to me up front to find out the answers right away. It is as simple as that!”

Making a change like this might not mean starting from scratch, but it can mean juggling a few changes. Jowan Williams, is a Transfer Admissions Counselor at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, and he also was a transfer student.

“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

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 credits?

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 in some ways 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 Wisconsin

If you’re wanting to change majors or simply find the right-fit school that feels like home, Concordia University Wisconsin could be a good option for you. You can even set up a virtual visit before you complete an application.

Transferring to Concordia:

  • No cost online application
  • Transfer in up to 84 credits from a 4-year university, and up to 64 from a community college
  • Scholarships are available
  • Housing is available

Concordia understands the needs of transfer students, so feel free to contact Linda Kluge to learn more about the process. Your transfer staff is eager to work with you, no matter what your academic background is. They genuinely want to help you get the information you need to help the transition from one institution to the next.

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.

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