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How to Transfer Colleges Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Transferring to a different college is hard. You could be making the decision because you realized you aren’t satisfied academically, the location isn’t what you imagined, or you just feel out of place socially. With COVID-19 fracturing college life as we know it, it has only become harder for transfer students. As a transfer student myself, I know how difficult it can be to balance academics while applying to other schools during the pandemic. Here are some strategies for students considering transferring.

Do your research and know why you want to transfer

Figure out why you want to transfer to another institution. Understand what about that institution, in particular, attracts you and how you are going to engage with it. The more research you do and in-depth information you gather, the better and easier it will be to write the application essays.

Talk with an advisor, professors, and students

If you know someone who transferred or is at the college you want to attend, ask for their experience and advice. What do they like or dislike about the school? These kinds of questions will help guide your research and give you a better sense of where you want to go.

Write the essays early

After you have gathered the data, it’s time to work on a significant portion of the application: the essay. Many schools require you to write about why you want to attend or why you want to transfer. Using your research and conversations, you should be able to figure out what to write. Now, translate these thoughts into words. I made the mistake of not finishing my essays early, which caused me to have to balance writing and editing these essays by maintaining my grades. Don’t be like me; take advantage of the summer break (if you are considering transferring for the spring semester) or winter break (for fall semester transfers) to minimize the time you have to spend when school starts again.

One huge difference between applying to college as a first-year and as a transfer is that grades matter more after submitting your application. There is no senior slump, and you have to keep up with your academics. Therefore, the earlier you can finish writing and proofreading the drafts of these application essays, the better.

Keep up the excellent work academically

Your grades matter and many colleges require you to submit a midterm report. Some will also require a final transcript if you are accepted. Therefore, it is wise to strive for a high GPA or maintain your current one. The bottom line is: don’t let your GPA slip.

Enjoy yourself!

Transferring to college is hard, and it’s a big deal. But at the same time, remember you should be having fun while in college, so take some time to hang out with friends and give yourself breaks.

Keep an open mind

When decisions come out, you might get in (congratulations!), or the news might not be as positive, as you are either waitlisted or rejected. Understand that it is not because you aren’t good enough and that no matter what, you have accomplished a great deal and should be proud of yourself.

I hope these tips help you with your transfer applications. Good luck and I hope you get into your dream school!

Lily Cai

Columbia Barnard '23

Lily is a sophomore at Barnard College, intending to double major in economics and computer science. Apart from school, she loves trying out new food and cuisines. She also enjoys listening to music, reading books, and watching Netflix. Lily would love to meet new people and feel free to reach out to her!
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