How to Approach Your College Transfer Essay

Admission Essay College

Whether it is to transfer from a 2-year to a 4-year school or to pursue a program that is better aligned with their academic and career goals, transferring schools is becoming increasingly common. Although the negative stigmas of the past regarding transferring schools has largely faded, transfer students still tend to be given low priority in the admissions process. Because of this, you’ll need to make the most of your transfer essay in order to make a big impression on the admissions officers. Also, transfer essays usually have short word counts. In creating this limitation, the school is looking for you to provide them with your unique reasons for applying to their program.

The most successful essays always have the same basic qualities: maximizing the space available, staying specific, and showing enthusiasm.

Formulating your essay   

Planning ahead is essential for creating a great transfer essay. Without it, you’ll likely run out of room very quickly and either shortchange the conclusion or wind up with an essay that doesn’t have enough depth to be meaningful to the admissions officers. Therefore, use the first part of the essay to provide the admissions officers with sufficient background information from your school, work, and volunteer experience to show that you have the qualifications necessary to succeed at their school. Show the admissions officers why you now have the skills and experience to make the right choice and join a school where you will thrive while making a meaningful contribution.  

In the second half of the essay, go into detail about why you want to be part of the program. Name classes that will fill knowledge gaps that you have. Provide the names of professors whose work interests you and how their interests are similar to your own. Finally, remember to write about life outside of the classroom. Are there clubs or organizations that you look forward to joining? What about the campus setting? If you’re applying to schools in metropolitan areas, you might want to write about the cultural offerings. If you’re applying to a school in a college town, write about the benefits of being part of a tight-knit community. Most of all, let the admissions officers know that you will be proud to have a degree from their school.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Transfer Essays

Writing about the school’s reputation

Admissions officers are aware of their school’s reputation, so writing about reputation is probably a little too general to be meaningful in your transfer essay. Instead, focus on aspects of the school that are more personal to you. What does the school have that other schools don’t? Only you know why you have chosen a particular school, and different applicants can have widely different ‘most important reasons’ for applying. By writing about specific details, the admissions officers will be able to see that you have fully researched their school and made an informed choice in submitting your transfer application package.

Criticizing your previous school

Regardless of how bad things were or are, never criticize your current/previous school. While it is okay to write about how certain aspects of the school or program weren’t the right match for your goals, values or personality, always maintain a positive tone. Taking a negative tone will reflect badly on you as a person and not the school or program. There are good aspects to your current school. Be sure to briefly praise the school or highlight positive experiences you have had there but then quickly move on to why the school to which you are applying is the right place for you to take the next steps in your academic progress.    

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