The Benefits of Transferring Colleges: A Guide for Parents and Families

by Ben Kissam

If your college student is thinking about transferring, they aren’t alone. Despite the pandemic last year, there were hundreds of thousands of active transfer students in U.S. colleges, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

Transferring schools can be a challenging decision and process for students. As a parent, you can play a critical support role, be it helping your student organize paperwork, navigate the process, or simply persevere. You can also remind them of the benefits of transferring colleges.

Help Your Student Decide Whether to Transfer

Changing majors, saving money, being closer to home, and finding a better fit are among the most common reasons students transfer. Whatever the reasons your student wants to transfer, it’s important to help them assess those carefully and honestly. Maybe, after talking it through, their current situation can be improved with a few adjustments. But if their professional aspirations or personal goals can best be achieved elsewhere, starting the transfer process is probably their best option.

No matter the reason, the more loving support and rational input you can provide to your student, the more likely they are to achieve a positive outcome. Encourage them to speak with their academic advisor, a counselor, or a spiritual mentor for a wider range of feedback, especially from people they respect or who have succeeded in the profession they wish to pursue.

As a parent, it’ll also help to remember that transferring is rarely an all-or-nothing proposition. Many institutions offer a 6- or 12-month period where students can rejoin their old institution without reapplying if they choose to.

Remind Your Student of the Benefits of Transferring

If your student decides to transfer, they might be nervous about the process and starting at a new school. You can support them by reminding them of the benefits of transferring colleges, which may include:

  • Finding happiness through a better culture fit
  • Flexible program start times (often, transfer students can start their new program in the spring without “losing” a semester toward graduation)
  • Opportunities to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities their current college doesn’t offer

Understand the College Transfer Process

Here are some of the milestones your child and you can expect to check off as you go through the transfer process:

  • Meeting with their current academic advisor to discuss transferring
  • Making a shortlist of new potential colleges or universities (and ideally visiting the campus)
  • Applying to a new college(s) before application deadlines and sending in all necessary supporting documents—transcripts, financial aid applications, health reports—on time
  • Reviewing acceptances and helping your child to understand financial aid packages before making a final decision
  • Choosing a new school, then notifying their current and prospective colleges of their intent to transfer

Know When to Start the Transfer Process

Azusa Pacific University recommends students apply as early as possible. As Peter Lujan, the associate director of transfer recruitment at APU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, explained, “When you apply early, you have plenty of time to get connected to the community and resources, including help reviewing your financial aid offers, guidance to understand exactly how your prior coursework will transfer over, and more.”

That information is especially helpful, as according to, the average college credit at a private four-year university costs $1,092, and each three-credit course costs around $3,277. Suffice it to say, finding out that even one or two courses will or won’t transfer is a huge deal.

If possible, your student should give themselves three to four weeks to fill out their application, then aim for the priority deadline (February 15 for the fall semester and October 15 for the spring). Timely action—as well as tools like Transferology—could give your child a bit of a cushion, as well as time to weigh the pros and cons of their decision.

Is your student considering transferring to APU? Here are three more reasons they shouldn’t wait to apply.