“She doesn’t even go here!” Join me as I transition to life at Brown, and learn more about our fantastic campus through the ramblings of a recent transfer student. I’m Veronica Fletcher, a junior concentrating in Psychology & Hispanic Studies, and this is my Second Time Around.
So you’ve decided you wanted to switch schools, or maybe you’re just beginning to toss around the idea of transferring… so what’s next? Over the next few postings, I’ll try to provide some enlightenment on the particulars of the actual application process – from the initial school search, to the timeline, right down to the dirty details of essay-writing.
What should I look for in a transfer school?
The answer to this one is pretty easy – just sit down and do some soul-searching. What’s working about your current situation, and what isn’t? Isolate the negative variables, and find a school that doesn’t have them.
The fact that I actually knew what I wanted out of my college this time made the search process SO. MUCH. EASIER. In case you were curious, my personal ‘shopping list’ included:
- an undergraduate population no larger than 8,000
- a diverse student body with a strong sense of community
- challenging academics
- strong programs in my intended majors concentrations
- a laid-back social scene with minimal Greek life
- an urban or suburban location with a cohesive campus feel
- grassy quads and brick buildings (i.e. the quintessential college experience)
Clearly, this was a much better description than my initial college blueprint, which sounded something like this: “I want a medium-sized school that has all-around good academics and is located near some body of water.”
Should I apply to the same schools as before?
In complete contrast to everything I just said, transferring also challenged me to expand my criteria for finding a school. Originally, I was convinced that wanted to get away from home and experience the East Coast for a few years. When I began thinking about transferring, I realized that my restricted choice of location may have actually prevented me from finding my perfect school in the first place. Part of the reason I was having difficulty assimilating to my previous school was that I was basically undergoing a minor form of culture shock, so this time, I allowed myself to throw some West Coast schools into the mix. (Which is obviously suuuper ironic since I ended up in Rhode Island, of all places).
Out of the 8 schools I applied to, only 3 were repeats – 5 of them were choices I had either eliminated the first time around, or had never even considered to begin with. That said, while starting from scratch can be a really good way to begin the search process, don’t be scared to re-apply to colleges where you were originally rejected or waitlisted – if there’s a school you absolutely loved as a high schooler, it can’t hurt to give it another shot!
How many schools should I apply to?
During the search process, most people will find that they fall into one of two categories:
- “I’m fairly happy here, but I didn’t get into my dream school the first time around, and I want to try again.”
- “I’d literally rather be anywhere but here.”
In the end, the number of schools you apply to is entirely up to you, but in my experience, it’s usually highly dependent on your answer to the above question. Among the transfers I know, people have applied to anywhere between 1 and 13 schools – there’s really no hard-and-fast rule. However, if you’re more of a Category Two person, remembering to keep a balanced mix of safeties and reaches is definitely an important factor to consider when creating your list… If you’re in Category One and only applying to 1-2 schools, this probably isn’t as relevant.
~~Be sure to check back in January for more of this series!!~~
Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts or questions about this blog post, or any other aspect of the transfer experience, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment in the box below!