by Lan Ngo

What To Do If You’re on a College Transfer Wait List

May 13, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers


We’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers about what to do if you’re on the wait list for the college you applied to transfer to.  First, give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world.  Prepare yourself for the final result, whatever it may be.  Importantly, understand that most applicants don’t get off the wait list.

The information provided in the article, How to Get Off a Wait List, about the freshman wait list is also helpful for transfer applicants on a wait list.  The most important point from this article is “Don’t pester the admissions counselor.”

If you’re on a wait list, hang in there!  All the best to you!

(Photo: eye of einstein)

by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Q&A: Who should I ask to write my recommendation letter?

April 7, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers, Q&A


We wanted to highlight a question someone asked in the forum.  It’s related to an essential component of your transfer application.  For those of you who are still working on applications for fall 2013 and have not yet finalized who will write your recommendations, be sure to read this!

Question: I already have one professor writing a letter of rec for my transfer application, but don’t know who to go to for my second letter of rec. I am undecided between two people. One is a professor who I took two classes with for my major and got A’s in both. But, I know he doesn’t know me that well. The other person I can go to is my lab TA. I had her for two quarters and did well both times. She is very familiar with my work and knows me well. However, I feel like a letter of rec from a TA isn’t going to carry as much weight as one from a professor. Whose letter will better for my transfer app? Should I go with the professor, even though he doesn’t know me that well, or the TA?

Answer: Make one of these requests to your lab TA. Decide which is the best option depending on your relationship with your TA:

– Could she write a letter and ask the professor to co-sign it?
– Could she co-write the letter with the professor?
– Could she provide information to the professor to help the professor write a letter for you?

Your recommendation letters are very important, so carefully consider who you want to ask to write them.


(Photo: State Libraries and Archives of Florida)

by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Q&A: What Extracurricular Activities Should I Do? – Part 2

January 4, 2013 in Admissions, All Transfers

This is part two of an article by Vince Lauer.  Here, Vince gives advice on selecting and engaging in extracurricular activities in a way that makes the most sense for students looking to transfer to another college. In Part 1, he left off with discussing the first step, which is to start early.  Now, to continue with the other steps.

2. Follow through:

Once you have engaged in your first activity, run with it and look for similar activities to participate in. As you advance in your studies, try to also move up to leadership positions in the same clubs. Transfer admission committees like to see that you have stuck with an activity throughout your first (and second) year of college and have moved up the ranks to higher, more senior positions. Again, consistency is key.

3. Minimize distractions:

Your time is precious. While maintaining great grades that will be imperative to your transfer applications, you will not have time to participate in every extracurricular activity on campus. Once you have decided on a theme, it will be important not to get caught up in activities that do not fit in with the rest. Resist the temptation to participate in activities that your friends are in or those that are simply for fun.

4. Connect your theme with the rest of your transfer application:

You’ve put in the effort to create a theme that is consistent with your passion. Now make sure your hard work pays off and your theme shines through in your application.

Your theme should be obvious from your personal statement—in your Common App main “why transfer” essay, in your college-specific essay, or both depending on how you’re organizing your information within your application. Discuss why you are passionate about the topic and how it has made you grow. Most importantly, discuss how you plan to bring your passion to the college you will transfer to. For example, if your theme is writing, mention that you plan to create a newsletter at the university (only if you truly intend to). Given your strong history and experience at your current institution, you will have a lot to contribute to your new college, and the personal statement is the place to tell the admissions committee how you plan to do it.

To recap, now is the time to think about what your application theme will be. Select your extracurriculars carefully to continuously build on your theme and avoid distractions. Admissions committees like to see that applicants have a strong and consistent strand of achievements and interests they can bring to their institution. It will give you the push you need to stand out in the transfer applicant pool. Good luck!

What questions do you have about extracurricular activities?

(Photo: CelloPics)

by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Q&A: What Extracurricular Activities Should I Do? – Part 1

December 5, 2012 in Admissions, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Q&A

This article was written by Vince Lauer.


What kinds of extracurricular activities will make me stand out as I apply to transfer to the college or university of my choice?


Nowadays, as transfer applications become more competitive and more complex, colleges are looking for more than good grades and impressive standardized exam scores. Colleges look at applicants as a whole.

The top opportunity for the applicant to stand out as an individual is the personal statement, which explores the student’s motivation for transferring and also details some of the student’s extracurricular activities that back up their motivation. However, developing a strong set of extracurricular activities is more challenging, but we’ll discuss what you can do to improve in this area.

Two caveats before we continue: 1) Notice that we’re not suggesting that you rack up a laundry list of extracurriculars.  2) A great set of extracurricular activities won’t necessarily compensate for a mediocre transcript, because grades are the most important in a transfer application. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on with the topic of this article.

First, let’s consider the case of these two transfer applicants:

Bob’s extracurricular list:

  • serves as the college basketball team captain (1st year)
  • volunteers at nursing home on weekends (1st year, 2nd semester)
  • spent 1 week of winter vacation volunteering at animal shelter (2nd year)
  • likes to read, write and travel

Annie’s extracurricular list:

  • does freelance writing for a college magazine (1st year)
  • is a creative writing teaching assistant (1st year, 2nd semester)
  • serves as the editor-in-chief of her college magazine (2nd year)
  • likes softball and travel

Which applicant would you accept to your school? When it comes time to write a personal statement, which applicant would have a much easier time?

While Bob’s list of extracurriculars are impressive, Annie’s list is much more consistent. They tell her story and her passion. They have a theme. When the admissions committee meets to discuss the two applicants, Annie will be “the college writer” and Bob will be just another applicant.

How can you create a theme for your transfer application that will make you stand out?

1. Start early: Start thinking about your theme early, even in the first semester of college. Some great examples are education (tutoring experiences, mentoring programs, teaching assistant jobs), language (helping new immigrants, tutoring language classes, traveling), etc. Think about what you are passionate about. If you don’t have any ideas, go to the first meeting of a variety of campus clubs early and figure out where you fit in best and what you are most genuinely interested in.

Check back for part two of this article.  In the meantime, what questions do you have about extracurricular activities?

(Photo: acidpix)

by Lan Ngo

Should I Transfer Out of My College?

November 4, 2012 in Four-Year Transfer Articles, Q&A, Specific College, To Transfer or Not

We hear a lot of great questions and stories in our forums.  We would like to highlight one thread that might be helpful to students who are deciding whether they should transfer out of their current college or university:

Student: I’m currently a freshman at Spelman College, and I am thinking about transferring after this year. I have been at my college for a little over a month, and it’s fine, but that’s it: it’s just fine. I applied as a sort of throw away safety, but ended up attending (for some reason I always had a feeling that that would happen though…). The school has an amazing reputation in the African-American community, but is not as well known nationally, and I am not sure how that will affect me when applying for jobs.

When I was talking to my dad about this (he completely supports the idea) he gave me a few things to think about: and the last thing he said was “Think about what you want your college experience to be like.” I know I don’t want my experience to be “just okay.” I want more diversity, more school spirit (maybe some sports teams), and more people that challenge my ideas (often I’m one of the only people talking in class).

I’m from California, so I was contemplating applying to UCs (Berkeley and UCLA) the applications are due in November, so it would be great to get advice about applying to those because the deadline is so soon! I loved Northwestern when I visited in high school, so I would probably reapply there and to USC.

Also, I’m trying to figure out what extracurriculars to do: would playing soccer for the school (they are D-III) significantly help a transfer application?

TransferWeb: Thanks for sharing your situation.  I have a friend who transferred TO Spelman.  She recently graduated from there.  I asked her for her thoughts, and here’s what she said:

I will say that Spelman is not for everyone. I believe that it is way too expensive to stay there if it is not where you want to be. It is not a place with sports teams and that type of “college experience”.

However, I would not worry about Spelman not being nationally known. Spelman is internationally known. Graduate school recruiters from the Ivies and Fortune 500 Companies recruit Spelmanites. If there is anything you want to accomplish, Spelman will do nothing but help you accomplish your goals.

So in reality, it is all up to you. I would say apply to transfer out if you feel you need or want to, so that at least you will have options. No harm done if you decide to stay. Also, if you want more information on the Spelman experience, I could help. I recently graduated from Spelman, and I actually transferred to Spelman.

Student: Thank you so much for your reply/advice from your friend! I really appreciate it.

My main concern is that I am not being challenged enough in classes. Literally yesterday my English professor canceled class because only 2 (including me) girls in a class of around 15 did the reading and she didn’t want to have a discussion with 2 people. There is an honors program, but I would not be able to get into it until sophomore year, and I’m still not sure how much more difficult the classes will be.

I also have many different interests that I think a bigger school would offer classes in. For instance, I’ve always had a weird obsession with Russia and many of the schools I am looking at have either a Russian or Russian Studies major/minor or a Slavic Studies program. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to explore these interests after college, so that is another reason I’m considering transferring. However, the major that I am in right now, International Studies, is great, and not many colleges offer something like it.

Spelman definitely does have great career opportunities. Representatives from major companies come on campus all the time, but I was worried about if companies will recognize the name after I graduate if they did not actively recruit Spelman students.

I’m aiming for a 4.0 this semester but if that doesn’t happen I think I will not get less than a 3.7-3.8. I’m in Model UN and I really love it, I’m going to join the Spanish Club (I’m a Spanish Minor), and I joined another community service club but I am not sure how organized they are so I may have to find a different one. Do you have any suggestions regarding EC’s to make my application stronger?

Here are some of the schools I’m considering: USC, Tulane, Northwestern, Brown and UCLA/Berkeley

What do you think my chances are?

TransferWeb: As the Spelman grad explained, you should go ahead and apply to transfer, and then decide later if you want actually make the switch.

Holding a 4.0 GPA or a GPA that’s as close to 4.0 as possible certainly makes you more competitive than other students applying to the schools you listed.

Regarding extracurricular activities, I would say to do what you’re really interested in and what would be worth your time and effort, and then point out that genuine interested somewhere in your application.

We hope this is helpful to you!  Please share your questions and stories in our forum!

(Photo: dalbera)