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How to Write a College Transfer Essay (With Examples)
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 1.2 million students are enrolled in college as a transfer student. Students may transfer for a variety of reasons ranging from academics to athletics to geography.
If you are in the process of transferring colleges it’s likely that you will have to write a personal essay as part of your transfer admissions process. Ultimately, there’s no one way to write a college transfer essay. Everyone is unique, and this individuality should shine through in your essays.
However, there are some recommended things to include, and even a real example essay that was used to successfully transfer college! In this post, we’ll help you write a powerful transfer essay so you can tell your story to the admissions committee.
Jump ahead to…
- Do’s and don’ts
- Why did you choose your current school?
What are your main reasons for transferring out of your current school?
Why do you want to attend the transfer school.
- Example essay
- Key takeaways
Frequently asked questions
College transfer essays: the do’s and don’ts.
Before we start, we want to cover a few basics do’s and don’ts about what your transfer essays should be about.
- Elaborate on how your current school has helped you progress towards your goals. Positivity is always a good thing!
- Research your prospective school (e.g. specific classes, organizations, opportunities) for why you want to go there.
- Make sure to follow the standard/correct essay format! Transfer essay prompts may vary from college to college so you should make sure that you’re answering the exact question.
- Use up your limited word count by listing negative aspects about your current school. Instead, focus on how it has helped you grow, but how another school could further help you develop your interests/passions
- List a group of random classes or opportunities available at your new school. Mention opportunities you’re (genuinely) interested in that relate to your goals and passions – make sure you’re telling a story through your essay.
- Copy your initial admissions essay (the one that you used when applying to colleges in high school) – you’ve changed a lot during your time in college so you will want to write a brand new essay.
What is the goal of the transfer essay?
Potential transfer students should know that not all colleges and universities require transfer essays, so when in doubt definitely check-in with the college in question for clarification. For the purposes of this article and the sample transfer essay, we’ll be using this prompt:
Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.
Most colleges will be interested in learning why you want to transfer and how transferring will help you achieve your goals. However, specific prompts will vary from college to college, so you should definitely pay attention to the specific prompt you are asked to respond to.
Some of the common questions you’ll come across include:
- How will your transfer school help you accomplish your goals?
Below I’ll break down how to respond to each of these questions and include an example from a successful transfer essay.
Why did you choose your current school?
To answer this question, you’ll have to go back in time when you were in 12th grade and selecting your college. Did you choose the college because it had a program you liked? Maybe you really wanted to take classes with a specific professor? Maybe you thought you wanted to attend college in a specific part of the world? Whatever the reason you should lay it out in the most factual way possible.
Here’s how I responded to this question:
Just like Jeopardy, Criminal Minds is also a show that I have watched from a very young age, and one that I continue to watch quite regularly. Being exposed to this interesting world of FBI profilers for so long inspired me to want to dive into the world of psychology myself. Due to this, I originally chose the University of Wisconsin, Madison for its amazing psychology program, and because I wanted to try something new. Being from California, this “something new” came in the form of watching snow fall from the sky, seeing cheese curds being sold in all the grocery stores, and simply living somewhere far away from home.
Also see: How to write a 250 word essay
This is always an important question for transfer admissions officers: why did your current college not work out? We recommend that students be as honest as possible and stick to the facts (as opposed to simply complaining about your current school).
Students have very different reasons for changing schools, which often depend on what type of school you’re transferring from (a 2-year or 4-year). While many community college students transfer because their plans did work out and they’ve accomplished what they wanted to at their school, those transferring from four-year universities often do so for less positive reasons (which was my experience).
If the situation at your college didn’t exactly pan out as you thought it would, you should also try to talk about some of the ways you are making the most of the situation. This shows the admissions officers that despite the less-than-ideal circumstances, you have continued to learn, grow, and contribute to your community.
Here’s how I accomplished this:
Arriving in Wisconsin, I got exactly what I wanted: an amazing psychology program and the experience of being somewhere quite different from the place I called home. My classes were interesting, my professors were helpful and caring, and experiencing the first snow was quite exciting. However, as winter progressed, walking back from class everyday under the progressively gloomier sky seemed to be a cruel reminder that I was no longer in sunny Southern California. While eating dinner in our many dining halls, I always viewed the wide array of food available: quesadillas, Chinese food, burgers, even pecan pie. The food was all delicious, but going day after day without even seeing Korean food once made me miss those fun dinners with my family. Back at my dorm, my “home away from home”, it started to feel like anything but being at home. To feel more comfortable where I was, I decided to pursue things I liked, and that I was familiar with. My passion for psychology led me to join the university’s Psychology Club, where I was able to learn about recent revelations within the field of psychology, furthering my interest in the subject.
Going through the admissions process as a transfer student is interesting, because you have learned a lot about yourself and your preferences at your first college. This should provide you with a great perspective on what you are looking for next.
The two major things you’ll want to accomplish when answering this question are why the transfer college in question is a good fit for you and how it can help you accomplish your goals as a student.
Specificity is always more ideal here so you can show that you have spent some time thinking about what you want and also how the new college fits.
Here’s how I did this:
I plan on using the knowledge I gain in psychology, either from organizations or classes, to help people. I want to one day apply this knowledge to research, to discover possible methods to help the people suffering from the psychological problems I study. Alternatively, I hope to use this knowledge as a criminal profiler, using my understanding of psychology to narrow down pools of suspects. To be able to accomplish either of these, I need to develop a much deeper understanding of both people’s motivations for the things they do as well as of the many psychological issues people face. For these reasons, I am very excited at the prospect of exploring and enrolling in the classes offered by USC’s Department of Psychology. In particular, Psych 360: Abnormal Psychology would be an amazing introduction to psychological disorders and their causes. Psych 314L: Research Methods would then help me put this knowledge about disorders to good use by teaching me how to properly conduct research and find possible solutions for people’s problems.
College transfer essays: an example
Here we go! Throughout this article, I’ve shown you my college essay divided into sections, and now’s time for the full thing. I can honestly say that this essay had a 100% success rate! Without further ado, here is my full college transfer essay (and prompt):
Prompt: Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.
I wake up from my daily after-school nap to realize that it is already dinner time. As I walk downstairs, I smell the delicious fragrance coming from my mom’s samgyetang (Korean ginseng chicken soup), one of my favorite meals. Soon enough, everyone sits down to watch the newest episode of Jeopardy , a tradition we’ve had going on for as long as I can remember. As I take that first sip of samgyetang, and miss yet another geography question on Jeopardy – and wait for my family to inevitably tease me about it – I feel at home, like I am somewhere that I belong. Wherever I go, I hope I can encounter that same warm feeling. Just like Jeopardy , Criminal Minds is also a show that I have watched from a very young age, and one that I continue to watch quite regularly. Being exposed to this interesting world of FBI profilers for so long inspired me to want to dive into the world of psychology myself. Due to this, I originally chose the University of Wisconsin, Madison for its amazing psychology program, and because I wanted to try something new. Being from California, this “something new” came in the form of watching snow fall from the sky, seeing cheese curds being sold in all the grocery stores, and simply living somewhere far away from home. Arriving in Wisconsin, I got exactly what I wanted: an amazing psychology program and the experience of being somewhere quite different from the place I called home. My classes were interesting, my professors were helpful and caring, and experiencing the first snow was quite exciting. However, as winter progressed, walking back from class everyday under the progressively gloomier sky seemed to be a cruel reminder that I was no longer in sunny Southern California. While eating dinner in our many dining halls, I always viewed the wide array of food available: quesadillas, Chinese food, burgers, even pecan pie. The food was all delicious, but going day after day without even seeing Korean food once, it made me miss those fun dinners with my family. Back at my dorm, my “home away from home,” it started to feel like anything but being at home. To feel more comfortable where I was, I decided to pursue things I liked, and that I was familiar with. My passion for psychology led me to join the university’s Psychology Club, where I was able to learn about recent revelations within the field of psychology, furthering my interest in the subject. I plan on using the knowledge I gain in psychology, either from organizations or classes, to help people. I want to one day apply this knowledge to research, to discover possible methods to help the people suffering from the psychological problems I study. Alternatively, I hope to use this knowledge as a criminal profiler, using my understanding of psychology to narrow down pools of suspects. To be able to accomplish either of these, I need to develop a much deeper understanding of both people’s motivations for the things they do as well as of the many psychological issues people face. For these reasons, I am very excited at the prospect of exploring and enrolling in the classes offered by USC’s Department of Psychology. In particular, Psych 360: Abnormal Psychology would be an amazing introduction to psychological disorders and their causes. Psych 314L: Research Methods would then help me put this knowledge about disorders to good use by teaching me how to properly conduct research and find possible solutions for people’s problems. With so many opportunities available at USC, I hope to not only help others feel more comfortable, but to find a second home for myself after all.
And that’s it! This essay touches on all of the tips listed above, and should serve as helpful inspiration as you begin your writing. Hopefully, it gives you an idea of how to integrate everything you should mention in a cohesive essay. With that, I wish you good luck with your college transfer essays (and applications)!
Don’t miss: What looks good on a college application?
If you finish your essay and still have questions about the transfer process, consider checking out these Scholarships360 resources:
- How to transfer colleges
- How to transfer from a community college
- Top scholarships for transfer students
- How to choose a college
- What’s the difference between a private and public university?
- Explain why you want to transfer, what you need that you are not getting at your current school, and why you chose your current school to begin with
- Always present things in a positive light
- Share how the transfer school will help you achieve your goals and why you are a good fit for the school
How are college transfer essays different from regular application essays?
At their core, college transfer essays have a lot in common with regular college application essays. They are both opportunities to showcase your potential, your passions, your story, and the plans you have for your future at the school you’re applying to.
That being said, there are some circumstantial differences between transfer essays and regular application essays. Transfer essays are a great opportunity to showcase what you’ve accomplished at your current school and how it’s helped you to hone your goals and skills. You can talk about the lessons you’ve learned at your current school and build upon that to demonstrate why these experiences have led you to believe you would be even more successful at the school you’re hoping to transfer into.
So, the main difference between transfer essays and regular application essays is that transfer essays build on your experience of already having completed some college. Use your experience at your current school to pitch yourself as a candidate to your desired school.
Do all schools require transfer essays?
Not all schools require specific transfer essays. Some schools will have transfer students fill out just the same application as incoming freshmen would.
That being said, most college essays touch on a student’s ambitions and experiences. Since you have already attended college for some time, your experience and skills have changed. That means that as a transfer student, even your regular application essays should reflect the fact that you are transferring. Try to fit your time so far in college into your essays even if there is no specific transfer essay.
Can I reuse my old college essays for a transfer?
It’s not a good idea to reuse your old college essays as transfer essays verbatim. That being said, it is a great idea to use them as inspiration and a solid base for your new essays. Since your circumstances have changed in the time since your first applications, you’ll want to update these essays to reflect your time in college and the lessons you’ve learned.
Plus, with a year (or more) of school under your belt, your writing will most likely have improved. Use your new skills to maximize your chances of admission!
What should you not say in a transfer essay?
It’s very important to maintain a positive tone and focus on possibilities and ambitions in a transfer essay. Students who are transferring because they are dissatisfied with their current school may be tempted to voice that dissatisfaction, but it is best to keep it out of your essays.
Think about it from the perspective of an admissions officer. Will reading about how unhappy you are at your current school make them any more likely to admit you? Especially since all of these essays have word limits, any complaints about your current situation are only taking up valuable space that you could use to discuss your potential and ambitions.
So, instead of airing any grievances about your current situation, try to explore the ways that your intellectual or personal goals have changed in your time at school and how your new school will offer a great fit for you.
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Transfer personal statement
All applicants must write a personal statement and submit it with the transfer application for admission. The personal statement should be a comprehensive narrative essay outlining significant aspects of your academic and personal history, particularly those that provide context for your academic achievements and educational choices. Quality of writing and depth of content contribute toward a meaningful and relevant personal statement.
You should address the following topics in your personal statement. Within each subtopic, such as Academic History, write only about what is meaningful to your life and experience. Do not feel compelled to address each and every question.
- Tell us about your college career to date, describing your performance, educational path and choices.
- Explain any situations that may have had a significant positive or negative impact on your academic progress or curricular choices. If you transferred multiple times, had a significant break in your education or changed career paths, explain.
- What are the specific reasons you wish to leave your most recent college/university or program of study?
Your major & career goals
- Tell us about your intended major and career aspirations.
- Explain your plans to prepare for the major. What prerequisite courses do you expect to complete before transferring? What led you to choose this major? If you are still undecided, why? What type of career are you most likely to pursue after finishing your education?
- How will the UW help you attain your academic, career and personal goals?
- If you selected a competitive major, you have the option of selecting a second-choice major in the event you are not admitted to your first-choice major. Please address major or career goals for your second-choice major, if applicable.
Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the University of Washington.
Optional elements (include if applicable)
Educational challenges/personal hardships.
Describe any personal or imposed challenges or hardships you have overcome in pursuing your education. For example: serious illness; disability; first generation in your family to attend college; significant financial hardship or responsibilities associated with balancing work, family and school.
Community or volunteer service
Describe your community or volunteer service, including leadership, awards or increased levels of responsibility.
Describe your involvement in research, artistic endeavors and work (paid or volunteer) as it has contributed to your academic, career or personal goals.
Do you have a compelling academic or personal need to attend the Seattle campus of the UW at this time? Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Content, as well as form, spelling, grammar and punctuation, will be considered. Suggested length is 750-1000 words.
- Online application: You should write your statement first in a word processing program (such as Word) or a text editor, and then copy/paste it into the text box provided on the application. All line breaks remain. However, some formatting may be be lost, such as bold, italics and underlines. This will not affect the evaluation of your application.
- PDF application (spring applicants only): Type or write your statement on 8.5’’ x 11’’ white paper. Double-space your lines, and use only one side of each sheet. Print your name, the words “Personal Statement” and the date at the top of each page, and attach the pages to your application.
Tell us who you are
Share those aspects of your life that are not apparent from your transcripts. In providing the context for your academic achievements and choices, describe your passions and commitments, your goals, a personal challenge faced, a hardship overcome or the cultural awareness you’ve gained. Tell us your story. Be concise, but tell the whole story.
Personal statements too often include sentences such as “I’ve always wanted to be a Husky” or “My whole family attended the UW.” Although this may be important to you personally, such reasons are not particularly valuable to the Admissions staff because they do not tell us anything distinctive about your experiences and ultimate goals.
Write like a college student
Your personal statement should reflect the experience and maturity of someone who has already attended college. It should reflect your understanding of the components of an undergraduate education, such as general education and the major. We want to read how, specifically, your academic and personal experiences fit into your academic, career and personal goals.
Keep in mind
- We want to know about your intended major and career aspirations, and we want to know your plan to get there.
- You have the option of selecting a second-choice major. If you do, be sure to address it in your personal statement.
- The UW strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values and viewpoints.
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Read 2 Transfer Student Essays That Worked
Strong transfer essays can help pave the way to admissions offers.
Read 2 Transfer Essays That Worked
Though it isn't a golden ticket, a strong transfer essay may boost an applicant's odds of admission. (Getty Images)
There are as many reasons to transfer colleges as there are transfer students. But regardless of why someone wants to move to a new institution, the process for doing so usually requires an admissions essay.
Colleges With the Most Transfer Students
Josh Moody Jan. 28, 2020
Though it isn't a golden ticket, a strong transfer essay may boost an applicant's odds of admission.
In a 2018 National Association for College Admission Counseling survey , 41.5% of colleges polled said a transfer applicant's essay or writing sample is of either considerable or moderate importance in the admission decision.
A compelling, well-written transfer essay doesn't guarantee acceptance – many other factors are at play, such as an applicant's GPA. However, a strong essay can be a factor that helps move the odds in the applicant's favor, says Kathy Phillips, associate dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University in North Carolina.
Know What Colleges Are Looking For In a Transfer Essay
Some schools have prospective transfer students use the Common App or the Coalition Application to apply. In addition to the main essay, students may be required to submit a second writing sample or respond to short-answer questions, though this isn't always the case. Prospective students can check a college's website for specific guidance regarding how to apply.
Whatever application method they use, prospective students should be aware that writing a transfer essay is not the same as writing a first-year college application essay, experts advise. First-year essays are more open-ended, says Niki Barron, associate dean of admission at Hamilton College in New York. When applying as first-years, prospective students can generally write about any experience, relationship or goal that has shaped who they are as people, she says.
This contrasts with transfer essays, where the focus is typically narrower. Barron says she thinks of transfer essays as more of a statement of purpose. "We're really looking to see students' reasons for wanting to transfer," she says.
Katie Fretwell, the recently retired dean of admission and financial aid at Amherst College in Massachusetts, says prospective transfer students are in a position to be a bit more reflective about their educational goals because of their additional year or years of experience post-high school. The essay helps admissions officers get a sense of whether an applicant has done "an appropriate level of soul-searching about the match," she says.
Transfer Essay Examples
Below are two transfer essays that helped students get into Duke and Amherst, respectively. Both institutions are very selective in transfer admissions. For fall 2018, Duke had a transfer acceptance rate of 8% and Amherst accepted 4% of its transfer applicants, according to U.S. News data.
Hover over the circles to read what made these essays stand out to admissions experts.
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Application guide for transfer students
Get tips and best practices for putting together your best application.
What is Common App for transfer?
Common App for transfer is an online application that makes applying to college faster and easier. Through a single platform, you'll be able to search for and apply to any one of the more than 600 colleges that accept Common App for transfer. Whether you're applying to transfer from another 4-year institution or community college or looking to continue your path towards a degree by re-enrolling, Common App for transfer can help you get to where you want to be.
The info you’ll need to start your application
Filling out your application takes time.
And if you have to keep interrupting your progress to find information, like a certificate for a continuing education course or the address of your last internship, it can take even longer. Get a head start by collecting this information before you begin.
Below are some materials you’ll need to gather in order to fill out Common App for transfer.
- Some programs you apply to might ask you to provide this information. You can see what each program on your list requires in the College Coursework area of the Academic History section.
- You also have the option to add any continuing education courses you have taken.
Some programs will ask you to report these test scores. You can check the testing policy of the programs on your list in the Program Materials section.
On Common App for transfer, you have the option to share your experiences, things like research, internships, volunteer work, and more. This is the place to show colleges what makes you unique.
Create an account
Take the first step in the application process
Creating an account is simple.
- Provide your name and contact information.
- Make sure you use an email address you check often, as this is how Common App and colleges will get in touch with you.
- Choose a username and password.
- Review the Terms and Conditions.
Then click "Create my account" to finish the process.
Before you’re taken into the application, you’ll be asked to complete your Extended Profile. This includes information designed to tailor the application experience to you.
- College credits you will have earned when you enroll at the college you’re applying to
- The degree status you will have earned
- Your degree goal for the program you’re applying to
After answering these questions, you’ll be taken into the application. Congratulations! You’re ready to get started.
Use an email address that you check regularly.
Colleges may need to get in touch with you regarding your application.
Add the programs to which you will apply
Now that you’ve created your account and explored schools that accept Common App, it’s time to start adding some programs to your application.
The Add Program tab is where you’ll find and add these programs. If you already have a college or program in mind, you can search by college name at the top of the page. You can also use the filters to search for programs based on different criteria.
- Program availability
- Application fee
You can select as many or as few criteria as make sense to you. As you select each filter, the program list will update automatically.
To see more information about a particular program, click on that program’s name. An overlay will open with information like the program’s contact information, website links, testing policies, and more.
Adding programs is simple. All you need to do is click the plus icon next to the program’s name.
To see which programs you have already added, click "Selected Programs” at the top of the page. Here you can also remove programs from your list, if you choose.
Get letters of recommendation and school forms
In addition to your application, many colleges ask for additional documents to be submitted by recommenders on your behalf.
There are four types of recommenders you can invite: Personal, Professional, Academic, and High School Official.
Each program has different recommendation requirements. In order to see a program’s recommendation requirements, go to the program’s section in the Program Materials and proceed to the Recommendation tab of that program. (If a program does not require recommendations, you won’t see the Recommendations tab.)
On the Recommendations tab you’ll find helpful information including:
An "Add Recommendation" button to begin inviting recommenders
The types of recommenders the program requires
The number of each recommendation type they require and how many they allow — for example, a program might require 2 academic recommendations, but will allow up to 4
To invite recommenders:
Select the type of recommendation you'll be requesting
Enter the recommenders name, email address, and a desired due date for the recommendation
Provide a personal message or notes for your recommender (This can be anything you want; you could use it to thank your recommender in advance, provide context for the request, share instructions, etc.)
Choose whether to waive your right to access this recommendation in the future and check the affirmation statements
When you’re ready, click “Save this Recommendation Request” to complete the process. Your recommender will receive an email invitation with instructions on how to proceed.
Submit your college coursework, if required
Some programs may ask for official or unofficial transcripts. Others may not ask for any at all.
You can see programs’ transcript requirements in the Academic History section under Colleges Attended or College Coursework.
If you’re applying to a program that requires official transcripts, you’ll need to download the Transcript Request Form. You can access this form in the Colleges Attended section. You’ll notice that your information will already be entered on the form. All you need to do is print and deliver it to the registrar of the college(s) you have attended.
The college you attend may send transcripts differently than outlined in the Transcript Request Form. Common App for transfer also accepts electronic transcripts from Parchment and National Student Clearinghouse.
If your school uses a different service, transcripts should be mailed, instead of sent electronically. Be sure to include your full Common App ID # when entering the Common App mailing address.
If a program asks for unofficial transcripts, you can upload your transcript in the Colleges Attended section.
Some programs may not request unofficial transcripts within the Academic History section. Instead, they may allow you to upload an unofficial transcript in their Program Materials section. Be sure to check to see if there is a College Transcript upload option in each programs’ Documents tab .
Get ready to begin your journey
Walk through the transfer application with us before you apply.
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How to Write a Successful College Transfer Essay
It’s hard to write a one-size-fits all approach for college transfer essays . Why? As Dan Nannini , Transfer Center Director at Santa Monica College , pointed out to me last week, “Every student is just so darn different.”
He’s right. And given the great variety of reasons for students transferring—from military deployment , moving from community college to a university , to simply not vibing with a particular school—it may seem impossible to create a method that can work for everyone.
But I’d like to try.
So below, I’m going to lay out steps for writing a strong college transfer essay, and offer some college transfer essay examples.
And, as with all my other resources, take this is not The Only Way but instead A Pretty Good Way .
As a transfer student wondering how to start a transfer essay, you’re probably dealing with some version of this prompt:
"Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve."
I happen to believe there are…
Seven Essential steps for writing a transfer essay:
Establish some of your core values.
Explain why you chose your current school (the one you’re leaving) in the first place.
Offer specific reasons why you want to leave your current school.
Show how you’ve made the best of things in your current situation.
What do you want to do/be/study? (aka: What’s your dream?)
Outline how the new school (the one you’d like to transfer to) will help you realize your dream.
Close it out short and sweet. Bonus points if it’s in a memorable way.
IMPORTANT: The key to presenting each of these qualities isn’t just in WHAT you say (your content), but in HOW you say it (your approach). What follows is a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of what to do and how to do it, followed by some great example personal statements—and yes, I’m suggesting you focus on establishing one quality per paragraph. Here it goes:
how to start a transfer essay- Paragraph 1:
Establish some of your core values
What you’re trying to do here: In the opening paragraph you want to make an awesome first impression. And, given that first impressions are often established in the first 30 seconds and that this impression isn’t likely to change (even when, studies show , people are presented with facts that contradict their first impressions!) your first paragraph better be on point.
How to start a transfer essay: One efficient way to make a great first impression is to focus on establishing a few core values or, if you can, the essential part of you that is suffering in your current (school) situation.
How do you identify your core values? Do this 5 min exercise .
How do you decide which part of you is suffering in your current (school) situation? Well, just ask yourself, “Which part of me is suffering in my current (school) situation?” and, if you wanna’ get deep, ask yourself, “Which of my deeper needs isn’t being met at this school?” Click here for a list of Feelings and Needs. But here’s the key: you may not want to just come out and say it, as that can be boring.
How can I express my core values in a way that’s not super boring? Come up with an essence image that captures that value (or those values). In the sample below, for example, the student wanted to communicate her core values of connection, intimacy, family, and listening. So she chose the dinner table:
Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. In my family the most sacred meal is dinner. The aroma from my mother’s authentic Persian saffron and Barberry spirals around the circular dining table as we prepare to pile each other’s plates high with current events, future plans, and questions about what we learned that day. Slowly, the notification bells and piercing ring tones are replaced by the clamor of metal utensils as my sisters try to fit the plates and silverware around our carefully crafted dinner table. Each person sits the same distance from the center as we listen to my little sister’s attempt at hopscotch from earlier that day with as much interest as my Dad’s stories about his patient with Atherosclerosis. Listening is how we take care of one another.
Before I could even walk, my parents instilled in me a love for history. And thanks to their passion for travel, much of my early education was experiential. At eight, I could not only recite knowledge of Corrie Ten Boom, I'd visited the house where she'd hidden Jews in her home during WWII. By 10 I’d seen the Roman Ruins just outside Paris and by 11, I’d visited Rome and Florence, and begun to develop a passion for Michelangelo. By 14 I’d climbed the caverns of Mykonos and by 16 I’d walked barefoot through India and jogged along the Great Wall of China. Though moving around wasn’t always easy, travel gave me the opportunity to become more adaptable and resourceful, and I came to embrace differences as not only normal but exciting. My passion for cultural experiences and history continued in high school, and I looked forward to more experiential learning opportunities in college.
See how each example immerses us in the author’s world? And note how their descriptions awaken the senses. So much more interesting than if the authors had simply said, for example, “the values that are important to me are connection, intimacy, family, and listening.” Instead, each author shows us. And I’m not by the way just advocating for “ show, don’t tell, ” because you’ll notice that both authors show AND tell. In the first example:
First the author shows the value:
Slowly, the notification bells and piercing ring tones are replaced by the clamor of metal utensils as my sisters try to fit the plates and silverware around our carefully crafted dinner table. Each person sits the same distance from the center as we listen to my little sister’s attempt at hopscotch from earlier that day with as much interest as my Dad’s stories about his patient with Atherosclerosis.
Then, to make sure we get it, she tells us what that value is:
Listening is how we take care of one another
And in doing so, offers a bit of insight (for some specific techniques for adding insight/reflection to your writing, head there).
Now that's how to start a transfer essay. Okay, let’s move on.
Paragraph 2: Explain why you chose your current school (the one you’re leaving) in the first place.
What you’re trying to do here : Let the reader know how/why you are where you are. Because, y’know, the reader might wonder.
How to do this: Simply. Factually. Succinctly.
I originally chose Pasadena Community College because I wanted to a) stay close to home to take care of my mom, who was recovering from cancer when I graduated high school, b) save money by living at home and finishing my general ed requirements for under $50 per credit, and c) help my dad at his TV repair business.
See how simple? Just the facts, ma’am.
I was obsessed with Top Chef as a kid. While most of my friends were thinking about which expensive summer program they’d attend or whether or not they should take the SAT for the sixteenth time, my mind was on how to whip eggs to create the perfect "lift" in a soufflé and developing a long term strategy to create my own food television network. So I originally chose Drake Colonial University for its Culinary Arts program. And because it was two miles from my house.
Note the specifics. Also note how the reasons are clearly different and could be bullet pointed.
Wanted to be close to home (take care of mom)
Help dad at work
Drake’s Culinary Arts program
Two miles from me
This part doesn’t have to be flashy, but you could use a couple succinct examples to add a little something (“take the SAT for the sixteenth time” vs. “how to whip eggs to create the perfect "lift" in a soufflé”). Notice also how Example 2 above could serve as the opening paragraph, as it also establishes a couple core values (creativity, excellence, entrepreneurship, practicality). Which leads to an important point: Don’t take this as a strict by-the-numbers guide. Take what’s useful; discard the rest.
11 Essential Tips for Transferring Colleges
Paragraph 3: offer specific reasons why you want to leave your current school..
Heads-up: This is probably the most important part of the essay. Why? Essentially, you’re explaining to someone (a college) with whom you’d like to be in a relationship why your last relationship (with that other college) didn’t work out. In short, you need to talk crap about your ex but still be really nice about it.
NO I’M KIDDING. You’re not talking crap about your ex.
What you’re (actually) trying to do here: You’re trying to articulate, with specifics, why you want to leave your current situation.
How to do this:
Consider describing your expectations and then letting the reader know whether or not those expectations were met (you don’t have to do this—it’s optional)
Use specific reasons (to avoid sounding like you’re just talking crap)
Consider including an a-ha moment (in which you discovered something about yourself)
Let’s address these one by one:
1. Let the reader know if your expectations were or were not met.
Some students want to transfer because they had a plan and it worked out, and some students transfer because they had a plan that did not work out.
The “My expectations were met and the plan worked out!” Example:
I originally chose Pasadena Community College because I wanted to a) stay close to home to take care of my mother, who was recovering from cancer when I graduated high school, b) save money by living at home and completing my general ed requirements for under $50 per credit, and c) help my dad at his TV repair business. Achievements unlocked! Now that my mom is cancer free, I’ve finished my general ed requirements (with straight As!) and my dad has hired my uncle (in other words: he doesn’t need me anymore), I’m ready to move on.
Notice how in this example the author seems to say, “Great! I did what I planned to do and it’s time to move on.” That’s one way to do it. Sometimes, however, things don’t work as planned—and, in this next example, it’s no one’s fault:
The “My expectations weren’t met (and it’s not the school’s fault)” Example:
I originally chose Northwestern State Tech for its renowned global health program and looked forward to studying under Prof Paula Farnham, a titan in the global health world. Soon after my arrival, however, Prof Farnham took an indefinite leave of absence when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Notice how in this example things didn’t go according to the author’s plan, but it’s not the school’s fault; it’s just the way things turned out. But that’s not always the case, and sometimes you honestly just want out.
“My expectations were not met, this was NOT the plan (and I’m not saying it’s the school’s fault but honestly I just don’t want to be here anymore)” Example:
Initially, Drake Colonial University stood out to me for its culinary arts program and I looked forward to working side-by-side with top-rated chefs, experimenting with gastronomy and Sous-vide and finding others who shared my geeky passion for Transglutaminase. Unfortunately, my experience after arriving differed greatly from the one I’d imagined in at least three important ways: 1) the DCU culinary arts program was focused much more on the theory of cooking than actual cooking (all my finals last year, for example, took place in a classroom using pen and paper rather than in a kitchen); 2) access to supplies and facilities was extremely limited and most were off-limits to underclassmen, and 3) no one here had even heard of Transglutaminase.
Pulling this one off is a little trickier. Why? First of all, because there may be a lot more emotions wrapped up in your decision to transfer than in the two examples mentioned above. As a result, some part of you might honestly feel that it IS the school’s fault you’re so unhappy and some part of you may actually want to talk crap about the school. Here’s a tip: DON’T. It won’t make you look better or smarter—it’ll just sound like you’re complaining. Here’s your greatest ally is in this situation: concrete, specific reasons. Let me say this a little more boldly:
2. Provide specific evidence demonstrating how your expectations were or weren’t met.
If your expectations were met, great! Just outline your plan , then show how you rocked that plan—maybe even throw in something bonus that happened (and I even did it while keeping a full-time job!).
But whether your expectations were met or not, you MUST give specifics to support your points. In the sample above, for example, it wouldn’t be enough to say, “Unfortunately, DCU wasn’t all it was cracked up to be…”
Why? We need proof! Examples! Specifics! So in that example above the author first lets us know what she expected (hands on! experimentation! other food nerds!) before letting us know specifically what she found instead: theory instead of hands-on (boo) limited access to experimentation (aw) no other Transglutaminase nerds (I am sad).
Why it can be useful to clarify what your expectations were:
It kinda’ lets the school that you’re leaving off the hook, essentially saying that it’s not the school’s fault entirely, it’s just that you wanted something else, which makes no one the bad guy.
The more specific you are with exactly what you want, the easier it can be for the readers at your potential future college to imagine you on their campus (hopefully the readers will be like, “Oh! We have a great hands-on, experimental Culinary Arts program filled with food nerds!”) and maybe even start to root for you (i.e., want you to get your needs met).
Side note: Actually, I guess it is kinda’ like talking about an ex, but instead of saying “He was awful because of X,” you’re framing it in a positive way, saying in effect, “It’s not his fault, I just realized I was looking for Y.” (And, hopefully, your reader will be like, “Ooh!! We have LOTS of Y at our school!”) And sometimes, let’s be honest, we didn’t know what we were looking for until we got the opposite.
You didn’t know how important hands-on experimentation was until you ended up in a culinary arts program where all the “cooking” tests were done with pen and paper.
You’re a girl who didn’t know how important freedom to hold hands with your girlfriend in public was to you until some people at your school told you that you couldn’t do that (see example essay that follows).
Just to clarify: You don’t have to act like you had it all figured out before you got to your first school. You could:
3. Consider including an a-ha moment (one in which you discovered something about yourself)
Template for this:
It wasn’t until I experienced X that I realized Y [this core value] was so important to me.
It wasn’t until I sailed through my first semester with no homework and straight As that I realized how important intellectual challenge was to me.
Someone once said, “We don’t recognize our home until we lose it,” and the same was true for me. Not until I moved 620 miles away to X school did I realize that Y school—which had been in my backyard all along, just 20 minutes from the church I was baptized in, the grandmother who raised me, and the one I love most in this world (my dog, Max)—was home after all.
Got the idea?
And by the way: if you don’t get 100% specific here with your desires, don’t worry—you’ll have a chance in two paragraphs. You can keep your desires a little vague here.
Paragraph 4: Show how you’ve made the best of things in your current situation.
What you’re trying to do here: Show the reader you’re not the kind of person that just rolls over when confronted with adversity or goes in the corner and pouts when you don’t get what you want. Instead: how did you work to meet your needs? What did you do about it? (Note that if your expectations were met—if, in other words, this first school was all part of the plan—this is your chance to brag about all the cool stuff you’ve done!)
How to do this: By being creative. Positive. And by reframing everything you’ve been involved in since graduating high school (even the tough stuff) as preparation for your big awesome future.
Some examples of making the best of your experience at a school you’re about to leave:
There was no formal Makeup Department, so guess what. I STARTED ONE. WE’VE GOT 16 MEMBERS. BOOM.
My classes were so much bigger than I thought they’d be AND there were no formal study groups set up, so guess what. I ORGANIZED ONE. AND I EVEN BAKED BROWNIES. #glutenfree
There were no legit dance studios on campus OR in the dorms open after 7pm, so guess what. I PETITIONED TO LIVE OFF-CAMPUS AS A FRESHMAN, FOUND A TINY APARTMENT WITH A BASEMENT THAT OUR TEAM COULD REHEARSE IN, AND WE GOT TO WORK. #werrrrk
You get the idea. How did you make the best of a just-okay situation while you were waiting (or before you decided) to fill out your transfer application? If you’re thinking that the part-time job you took, the decision to quit school, or even the Netflix shows you binge-watched wasn’t ultimately preparing you for your big awesome future, you’re just not thinking creatively enough—yet. Ask yourself: could it be that I was gaining other skills and values along the way? Could it be that I was doing more than just earning money (hint: learned organizational skills, or discipline, or collaboration), more than just quitting school (hint: learned to put your health first), more than just binge-watching Netflix (hint: learned how much you value productivity by being totally unproductive for three weeks straight).
Here’s a list to get you thinking.
And if you’re like, “Um, well, I didn’t do anything,” chances are that either a) you didn’t really think carefully or creatively enough yet, or that b) YOU DON’T DESERVE TO TRANSFER.
I’m kidding about that last one. Kinda’. Keep thinking. This part’s important.
Paragraph 5: What do you want to do/be/study? (aka: What’s your dream?)
What you’re trying to do here: Paint the Big Picture—the vision for your life, or a dream job. Don’t have one? Uh-oh. Quit now. (I’m kidding.)
How to do this: By dreaming. Ask yourself, What would a dream job be—even if it isn’t your only dream job, and even if you aren’t 100% certain that this is what you’d like to do—and use it as a placeholder, like these students did...
I’m particularly concerned about beauty waste because I am morally disturbed by the fact that my personal grooming is damaging the environment for everyone. The problem is that cosmetics are often objects of desire—we want to be pampered and we crave a luxurious experience—and packaging reflects these consumer instincts. My dream is to rally college communities nation-wide in a drive to reduce packaging waste. As a community of passionate learners and intellectuals we can spread the message to student groups in colleges that protecting the environment trumps our desire for the most wrapped-up, elaborate, expensive packaging.
My dream is to become a special effects makeup artist with a specialty in fantasy-based creature makeup. Through an extensive process that includes concept design, face, cowl, and body sculpting in clay, molding the pieces using liquid latex or silicon, applying the products to the human model, hand-painting and airbrushing, and fabricate addition components if necessary, I will create original characters that will be featured in movies and television shows.
I know, that’s pretty specific. But again, these were written by students who weren’t 100% certain that they wanted to do this—they picked something they loved and built an argument (read: essay) around it.
If it’s hard for you to think in terms of careers or dream jobs, try asking one of these questions instead:
“What’s one Big Problem I’d like to try to help solve in the world?”
“Why do I want to go to this other school anyway?” Have you ever stopped to really articulate that? Have a friend ask you this and see what you say. And it can’t be simply because it’s more prestigious, or because you like living by the beach, or because you just really (like really) want to live in a big city. You need more specifics and more specific specifics. (That’s not a typo.)
A Really Good Tip for This Paragraph: Think of this as a set-up for a “Why us” essay , in particular the part where you’re talking about YOU… your hopes, dreams, goals, etc. Because if you can pick something specific—and even if it’s a placeholder (like the examples above)—this can lead directly into the next paragraph. How? Because, once you pick a Thing you’d like to do/study/be, then you can ask yourself, “Okay, what skills/resources/classes will I need in order to do/study/become that Thing?”
For more “Why us” resources: Click here for the Why This College Essay Guide + Examples . Or click here for a Complete Guide to the “Why Us” Essay.
To recap: In Paragraph 5, you’re setting up the specifics that you’re seeking. Then...
Paragraph 6: Outline how the new school (the one you’d like to transfer to) will help you realize your dream.
What you’re trying to do here: Depends. On what? On which of these two options you choose:
Write one essay for ALL the schools you’re applying to . Why do this? Maybe you’re short on time. Or maybe you’re kinda’ lazy (sorry, efficient!) and don’t really see the value in writing a different essay for each school. That’s fine.
Write a different essay for EACH of the schools you’re applying to. Why do this? It shows each school you’re applying to that you cared enough to spend the time researching and have really, really thought this through. I also think it gives you a better chance at WOW-ing the school and demonstrating why you’re a great match.
FAQ: Can you write and submit a separate essay for each school? Yes, as of this writing (2022), Common App allows you to edit your personal statement as many times as you like. So you can write an essay for School X, then submit to School X. Then go back into your Common App, copy and paste in the essay for School Y, then submit to School Y. And so on.
WARNING: If you choose to use this method, you MUST make sure not to submit the wrong essay to the wrong school. That’s a really quick way to get you into the “no” pile.
How to write one essay for ALL the schools you’re applying to (Option A):
If you opt to do this, you’ll want to mention the kinds of classes you’d want to take the kinds of professors you’d like to study with, etc. But I don’t want to say too much more about this, as I’d actually prefer to spend more time on the other approach (Option B) because I happen to think it’s a better way. So here’s:
How to write a different essay for EACH of the schools you’re applying to (Option B):
By researching. A lot. This paragraph is basically a mini “Why us” essay, and you’ll want to include as many specifics as you can find. Click here for a list of resources. But you won’t find the content for this paragraph in your beautiful amazing brain. Why? Chances are you don’t KNOW yet what specific opportunities the school you’re hoping to transfer offers. So go find out.
Here’s a great example of what great research might yield (excerpted from the Complete Guide to the “Why Us” Essay ):
A journalist cannot reach the peak of his craft if his knowledge of literature and critical thinking skills are weak, which is why I’m excited to explore what the Department of English has to offer. I look forward to courses such as 225: Academic Argumentation and 229: Professional Writing, as I believe these will provide me with a firm basis in journalistic writing technique and improve my abilities to write analytically and develop well-supported arguments. In addition, the Professional Writing course will teach me how to write in a concise, straightforward style, a skill vital to a journalist.
See how specific he is? And how he says why he wants each course? Also, notice how his separate reasons can all be bullet pointed. We could break down the paragraph above, for example, into a What I Need/What You (the school) Have list that might look like this:
WHAT I NEED:
knowledge of literature and critical thinking skills
a firm basis in journalistic writing technique
ability to write analytically
ability to develop well-supported arguments
ability to write in a concise, straightforward style
WHAT YOU (THE SCHOOL) HAVE:
225: Academic Argumentation
229: Professional Writing
Professional Writing course
And bonus points if you can find stuff that is closer to unique to that school (or maybe even actually unique). For example:
I would also like to be able to contribute my experiences with neurotechnology to support the cutting edge research in Cornell’s brand new NeuroNex Hub. I would love to work with Dr. Chris Xu in expanding the current three-photon microscope to be applied on various animal models. I also look forward to helping Dr. Chris Schaffer, whose research on deep neural activity is not being done anywhere else in the world. I freak out at the possibility of helping him develop a tool to look at multiple brain areas at the same time.
If the school you’re hoping to transfer to is maybe the only one that has certain opportunities that fit your goals … say so. Show them how you’re perfect for each other.
Paragraph 7: Sign off.
What you’re trying to do here: Close it out. Hopefully in a memorable way. But honestly it doesn’t need to be amazing. It needs to be short.
How to do this: Succinctly. Ask yourself: Is there anything else I need to say? Like, really need to say? Hopefully you’ve said it all already. If so, just close it out with 1-2 short lines.
Here are a few options that other students have used:
The “bringing it back full circle” ending:
My pulse will always race when I'm creating my grandmother's cacio e peppe for a party of eight. Yet cooking wasn't meant to be my career or my college experience. I learned I truly, deeply, profoundly love chemistry, and only through transferring to [insert school here] can I [name specific skills/resources you hope to gain], becoming a world renowned chemist specializing in global nutrient efficiency and bringing an end to world hunger.
The “my experiences made me who I am” ending:
Once I thought about it, I realized that if I hadn’t dropped out, I would have never [insert formative experience here], and I would have never [insert positive value here]. Looking back on this part of my life, I realized that dropping out was actually the best decision I could have ever made.
The “I have a dream (and you can help!)” ending:
I’m inspired to continue my work spreading nutritional information and resources to low-income communities like the one I was raised in and am committed to helping create not only a healthier future for my own family, but for the larger Latino community. I believe [insert school’s name] can help.
The “I’m looking for a home” ending:
Finally, the students and faculty that I met on my visit were [insert positive value here]. They made me feel that [insert college here] was a place I could call home.
Obviously don’t copy these word-for-word; let these inspire you. Or write something else altogether ( you have lots of options for endings )!
My advice: Aim for the heart. But be concise.
Ready to see how it all comes together?
Here’s an example essay—and I’ll put tiny notes in bold and italics in between the paragraphs so you can remember what to look for.
1. Core values: experiential learning, multiculturalism, embracing differences
2. Why she initially chose X school
One of the things that initially attracted me to Biola University was the Torrey Honors program. I also appreciated the welcoming attitude of its students, and, initially, its emphasis on Judeo-Christian values. But the past year and a half has given me time for introspection, and I have begun to see that Biola and I are not the best match.
3. A polite articulation of why she and the school are not the best match
I believe, for example, in the freedom to express love for whomever one chooses. But on at least one occasion at Biola I’ve been reported to my resident director for displaying physical affection toward another girl and have been told I could risk expulsion if we were “caught” in the act. I also believe that one should be free to express her spiritual beliefs in any way she chooses. At Biola, however, students are required to attend a minimum of 30 chapel events, and must pay upwards of $300 if this requirement is not met. I’m also interested in a diversity of perspective, but faculty are required to teach through a Biblical lens, and over 90% of the students in my department (Anthropology) are seeking to do missionary work following graduation. Finally, I didn’t feel the Torrey Honors Program provided the kind of experiential learning environment I was looking for.
4. How she made the best of things — and learned some great lessons and skills!
Two highlights of my time at Biola included debate, and the experience of founding BQU, a safe, but underground group for queer students. Working with the debate team has taught me how to be accountable for my own work and more humble in my losses. Working with BQU has shown me not only the necessity of being vulnerable with others, but has also taught me skills in creating a group constitution, designing a website, and advertising our cause in a non-inflammatory way.
5. What she wants to do (a.k.a.: the dream)
I’ve always been interested in psychological or environmental root of motives, and I see myself one day working in public policy. I’m seeking science and social science departments that offer both excellent research facilities and opportunities for practical application.
6. How she’ll pursue her interests at her new school: a mini “Why us” essay
I am interested in the debate team at Fordham because its Jesuit tradition inspires an intellectually rigorous environment. While my current team is very skilled, it does not fulfill my intellectual values; I want classmates who want to explore controversial topics despite their personal stances, and who want to take debate as seriously as their social lives. My desire to explore diversity is also reflected in my major (Anthropology), and draws me to the Irish Studies department. I am personally looking to revive my cultural heritage, and I am also interested in helping oppressed cultures thrive. I see a need to promote how Celtic culture shaped current American society, and want to explore the gender roles of early Celtic culture.
7. And we’re out.
Although my time at Biola has been challenging, it has given me time to discover my own values, ethics, and priorities. I am ready to find a place where I can feel at home, and Fordham is a place where I can picture myself reading Nietzsche in my dorm room or working on progressive debate resolutions with the squad. I hope to contribute my interests and values to the Fordham tradition.
For what it’s worth, here’s an alternate ending that she wrote for another school (Haverford):
Because of my childhood—learning history experientially through travel—I am hoping for a similar style of learning through my college experience. I believe that Haverford can provide this through its independent college programs, bi-college programs, and Ex-Co. My interests in criminology, environmental public policy, and gender studies are not normally included in traditional learning. I hope to take advantage of courses that exist outside of a strict department, such as Epidemiology and Global Health, which “examines the interplay of biomedical, societal and ethical concerns in global health.” This is important to me, because as a current anthropology major, I believe it is important to take into consideration all aspects that affect decision making in government and humanitarian efforts. Restorative Justice: A Path to Criminal and Social Justice is also a class that piques my desire to promote rehabilitation of the incarcerated population. Because I understand that social systems are intertwined, my interest into other topics grew. Furthermore, I am interested in advocating for the LGBTQ community in relation to the legal system. I wish to take Haverford’s bi-college program in gender and sexuality in order to view criminology from an LGBTQ lense. As a student who intertwines academics with extracurricular involvement, I am impressed by the Ex-Co’s ability to provide learning opportunities outside of class. Additionally, I am drawn to extracurriculars that can also increase my knowledge of the world, such as the Debate Team. While Haverford’ current team is out of commission, I hope to get it up and running, and give students another place to speak their opinions confidently. As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I am looking forward to a place where I can openly express myself, not only in a social arena—through the QDG- but also in a political arena—through the SAGA. The two women’s centers also address these two important needs, one a need for activism, the other a need for a safe space, including that for male feminists. As an individual with various networks, it will be nice to continue having a religious community, but Grace Covenant Church Fellowship appears to be more inclusive than the one I have previously been involved with, as well as providing an opportunity to expand my own network to other schools in the area. Because of my focus on activism, I was impressed by Haverford’s Honor Code and the Plenary. These encourage students to acknowledge the importance of civic involvement, and inspire students to improve campus policy. This particularly appeals to me as a student who feels my voice is currently not heard at Biola University. I hope to contribute ideas on how the school can help students continue to feel part of the community and celebrated for their differences.
For those wondering, this student ultimately ended up at Reed College in Portland. She’s very happy there.
And why shouldn't she be? Nice campus, right?
What should you do next?
Before you begin writing your essay, ask yourself:
Is there a way I can visit the campus(es) of the school I’d like to attend?
Can I set up an interview with an admission officer from the school (s)—either in person or via Skype/Zoom/etc? (Call or email the school to find out.)
If yes to either, you can use the info you gather there in the “Why us” portion of the essay.
If no to both...
Copy and paste these questions somewhere and begin your essay...
What are my core values ? In particular: which ones are suffering most in my current situation? (But don’t say that they’re suffering yet—just stick to the positive in your first paragraph.)
Why did I choose my current school (the one I’m leaving)?
Why do I want to leave my current school?
What are the specific things I’ve done to make the best of things?
What do I want to do/be/study? (aka: What’s my dream? Or: What’s one big problem I’d like to solve in the world?)
What specific skills and resources will I gain at this new school that will help me in realizing my dream?
What else do I need to say before signing off?
If there’s nothing left to say, just sign off.
Bonus: Two example college transfer essays with analysis
Note: the student requested that the name of the original college be anonymized.
I will never forget being eleven years old and skiing in the countryside, away from downtown Beijing. With little air pollution, the sky was dark and the Milky Way was mesmerizing. In the endless starry sky, I saw endless possibilities. It was then that the most basic human drive started to dominate me: curiosity about the world. I have been an amateur astronomer and a science nerd ever since.
W College offered me a substantial scholarship and an invitation to a special program, which provided me with a chance to work closely with professors and the college’s president. Looking forward to meeting more people with geeky enthusiasm for astronomy and harboring the dream of becoming a scientist, I decided to attend W College.
While at W College, a number of events altered my career goals. The loss of a family member due to severe air pollution made me see the brutal reality of the world—there are people suffering from disease, pollution, and millions of people can’t even get an education. I realized that the focus of being a scientist should be to help others and contribute to society. Moreover, my experience of being a TA helped me find a new passion—teaching and inspiring others to pursue their curiosity. Meanwhile, I also began to develop a deeper passion for astronomy and theoretical physics. Finally, I came to understand that by pursuing a Ph.D. and coming back to China to become a professor in these fields, I can help other people and contribute to education while also doing research to satisfy my own curiosity at the same time.
Therefore, I shifted my priorities and sought teaching opportunities as well as opportunities related to studying astronomy and theoretical physics. However, at W College, there is no Astronomy department, and, by the first semester of my sophomore year, I had taken the highest level astronomy courses that are offered at W College. Looking for more opportunities, I found Prof. M who is providing me with an opportunity to study Relativity. Since many external research opportunities are not available to international students, I reached out to Professor M and began to undertake research on an asteroid, a black hole system, and several other topics in astronomy.
Even though I made some progress, I knew that I needed to be challenged more; I needed a university that would assist me in my later pursuit of graduate studies in astronomy and physics and that would provide deeper academic offerings and more research resources. So I decided to transfer.
After visiting Wesleyan, I knew it is an ideal place for me. Academically, Wesleyan provides deep academic offerings in astronomy and physics, including advanced courses like Mathematical Physics and Radio Astronomy. During my visit to Wesleyan, I met with Prof. William Herbst, and his research interests in star formations really inspired me to work with him on this research topic, which is possible at Wesleyan due to Wesleyan’s strong research-focused environment. Wesleyan also has some of the best research facilities in astronomy of any liberal arts college. Prof. Herbst gave me a tour of the Van Vleck Observatory, and the 24-inch research telescope amazed me. Furthermore, the graduate program at Wesleyan also makes my pursuit of graduate studies possible, perhaps even collaborating with the same professors.
From my conversations with several students at the Astronomy department, I felt their curiosity and enthusiasm for astronomy, and being able to study with them excites me and makes me feel a sense of belonging. They emphasized how they closely collaborate together every day. This close community between students as well as the cooperative study environment would really help me, a transfer student, adjust to a new school.
While my time at W College has helped me discover my own priorities, values, and goals, I believe that Wesleyan will best help me achieve these goals.
Tips + Analysis
Hook into your values. Above, the author uses some simple, beautiful images as a quick hook, but does so in a way that allows them to fairly quickly lead into one of their core values (curiosity) while also setting up their primary academic focus (astronomy). You have a lot of options for possible hooks , but if you’re having trouble, a quick, specific image can be your go-to move (especially in an early draft—you can always experiment later), since you can almost always find some kind of image linked to your values, and can frequently just reverse-engineer your hook this way: What values are you going to end your first paragraph with? What are some images that come to mind from your life that illustrate them?
Be clear and direct with why. In the third and fourth paragraphs, this author does a great job of condensing what some students might have taken several hundred words to write into a clear, direct structural component that helps us understand why they are transferring (realized what my values/priorities are → my goals shifted and I can’t do what I want to do where I am). As mentioned in the guide above, it’s great to write this in a way that makes clear that there’s no animosity or resentment for your current school—you simply don’t fit together. That’s ok.
Get super specific in the “why us”. This example is packed with nice “why us” details—I count at least 12 in the span of 194 words across 2 paragraphs. The author does a nice job of helping us see a) that they’ve really done their homework on Wesleyan, and have clearly thought out why they and the school fit together academically; and b) that they’ll make a great addition to the community, and have already engaged with the students whom they’ll join. Details like these make it easier for your reader to picture you on campus, engaging with professors and other students and adding to the school’s vitality.
Three countries, eight cities, 11 houses with six families, and ten schools. During my frequent moves from Korea, Canada, and the U.S., fashion has provided a consistent creative outlet. In elementary school, I painted magazine covers; in high school, I got creative with my strict dress code; in college, I built my own jewelry brand “Horizon Jewelry” for a marketing project which sparked my interest in marketing.
I attended Chapman for its programs in communications as well as its proximity to L.A., which offered internships in fashion. However, as a full-time student who planned to work an on-campus job and lived an hour away, I was unable to apply for my desired internships that required their interns to be locally based and dedicate at least 15 hours.
Furthermore, my major Strategic and Corporate Communication did not incorporate my interests in fashion and film. Recognizing the incompatibility between my major and intended career path, I applied and was accepted as a PR and Advertising major at Chapman University Dodge College. However, the school did not offer any fashion courses.
I found opportunities for development by joining a professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. Through events, I learned professional interview etiquette and received feedback on my resume and elevator pitch. I developed my leadership skills as an organizer of our social events. These experiences taught me the value of constructive criticism and improved my public speaking skills.
I also worked for Chapman’s Disability Center. I assisted disabled students and served as a liaison between students and professors, which led me to join my fraternity’s service committee where I volunteered at the City Net Bake Fest, serving the homeless population.
After discovering my interest in marketing, I began a telemarketing position for Chapman Fund. I call Chapman community members to build relationships, provide campus news, and raise money for the university. This job has allowed me to possess excellent communication and customer service skills.
While working on-campus, I continued to search for opportunities in fashion. In January 2019, I discovered a remote marketing internship with Relovv, a sustainable fashion marketplace. Through Relovv, I’ve learned how to create content to advertise on Relovv’s Instagram stories, recruit members, and contribute to organizing influencer collaborations.
Now, I’m ready to move onto the next phase of my education studying Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt.
My dream is to create global campaigns for fashion or film organizations that prioritize conveying underrepresented messages, and ultimately work at Refinery29 or Kenzo. Outside class, I plan to gain more experience in the fashion industry as a fashion marketing intern at Lie Sang Bong, a brand originated in Korea. I believe NYU’s unique communications degree which incorporates fashion and marketing will provide me with the necessary tools for my career path.
Show growth and trajectory. In the intro, this author quickly ties into their primary focus (fashion) and beautifully builds through some brief “ why major ” details, showing impressive growth (from painting magazine covers to building their own jewelry brand). This specifically and directly sets up why, sadly but clearly, they need to break up with Chapman…
It’s not you, it’s me… well, it’s kinda you, too. In the body, the author offers several clear details for why, ultimately, they need to break up with Chapman—unable to apply for internships, didn’t actually have courses that fit specific career path, etc. And the author does a nice job of demonstrating how they tried to make it work, by engaging with the opportunities they did have—joined a business fraternity, organized events, contributed to the community through the Disability Center and service committee, worked for the Chapman Fund, interned with Relovv—but that they need to find a partner (NYU!) that aligns with their interests (communications degree which incorporates fashion and marketing!).
Show what you bring to the new relationship. As mentioned just above, the author spends a good chunk of word count discussing ways they tried to make the best of the situation with Chapman. But notice that these kinds of details work a double shift—they help us see how the student will be an asset to the NYU campus and community by showing how they’ve done so at Chapman.
Students are welcome to apply for transfer admission to Barnard if they have completed 24-60 transferable credits at another institution following high school. If a student anticipates completing fewer than 24 credits, they must apply as a first-year student . For more details and information about how Barnard evaluates transfer credits, please see our Transfer Credit Evaluations page .
Application Review Philosophy
Learn about why you might want to transfer to Barnard, how best to prepare yourself for admission, and how we read applications contextually and holistically.
Application Deadlines: Fall and Spring Admission
Barnard allows transfer students to apply for entry either in our Fall or Spring Terms. The required application materials are the same regardless of the entry term for which students apply. To learn about the differences in available financial aid between Fall and Spring Term entry, please see our Financial Aid website .
Fall Term Admission
Students applying for Fall Term admission will begin their time as a Barnard student in September. Application Deadline: March 1 Mid-Term Report Deadline: April 1 Rolling Notification: After May 1
Spring Term Admission
Students applying for Spring Term admission will begin their time as a Barnard student in January. Application Deadline: November 1 Mid-Term Report Deadline: November 15 Rolling Notification: After December 1
Required application materials.
- It will also include the Personal Statement that will be sent to each school to which you apply.
- What factors encouraged your decision to apply to Barnard College, and why do you think Barnard would be a good match for you?
- If you could plan and lead a semester-long college seminar, what academic topic would you choose and why?
- $75 non-refundable application fee or fee waiver request: Application fees are submitted through the Common App. To request a fee waiver, complete the Common App Fee Waiver subsection within the Personal Information section of the Common App. If you are unable to complete the Common App fee waiver, we also accept NACAC waiver requests .
- For those who have taken a high school equivalency exam, the official diploma and test subject transcript must be sent in lieu of high school documentation. Visiting the testing agency's website for details.
- Barnard accepts GED, TASC, and HiSET to satisfy high school equivalency.
- Official college transcript(s): Please request that your college send us your official transcript. If you have attended multiple colleges, official transcripts must be sent from each college.
- College Report: This is a Common App form available for download under the Program Materials section. It must be completed and submitted by a college official who has access to your institutional record (Dean, advisor, Registrar/Records Office, etc.).
- If you do choose to submit test scores, please note that we require official SAT or ACT scores sent directly from the testing agency. In addition to sending official test scores, we recommend that you self-report your test scores within your application under the Standardized Tests subsection in the Common App's Academic History section. This will ensure a timely processing of your application.
- One academic letter of recommendation: We require one letter of recommendation from a professor or faculty member who has taught you in an academic class within the last year.
- Course descriptions: Please submit a comprehensive list of the official course descriptions of all courses from all colleges in which you have been enrolled. Descriptions should be retrieved directly from your college's course catalog/bulletin and clearly marked with the course title. Course descriptions can be compiled into a Word document and uploaded to Common App under the Program Materials section. Failure to submit course descriptions will delay the review of your application. These descriptions will be used in evaluating course credit for all admitted transfer students.
- For students applying for Spring admission , Mid-Term Reports are due on November 15th .
- For students applying for Fall admission , Mid-Term Reports are due on April 1st .
- Official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test Scores: Students who meet our international applicant definition are required to submit official scores from one of the English proficiency exams listed or meet our waiver criteria. Please visit our International Applicants webpage to learn more about our English Language Proficiency requirements and see if you are eligible for a waiver.
Optional Application Materials
- Supplementary portfolios: Students may choose to submit supplementary portfolios containing film, photo, drawing, painting, sculpture, music, dance, theatre, or creative writing for review via Slideroom . Please note that supplementary material will not be reviewed by Barnard faculty and during high volume periods, we cannot guarantee it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Barnard does not require supplementary portfolios or auditions from any of our applicants, regardless of intended major.
- Additional letters of recommendation: Students may request letters of recommendation from up to two additional sources outside the required academic recommendation. If you choose to request additional letters of recommendation, we recommend that they come from a different perspective than your previous letter, such as a high school counselor/teacher, employer/supervisor, research mentor, or club advisor.
- In the Common App, proceed to the Personal Information section > Other Information tab > and scroll to “Additional Information”.
- If you would like to provide context related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a separate COVID-19 option within the same section for this particular information.
How to Send Documents
- Electronic document delivery services (Parchment, National Student Clearinghouse, Naviance, etc.). If a destination address is requested, please input [email protected] or [email protected]
- Emailed by the school to [email protected]
- Mailed by the school to our office: Barnard College Office of Admissions 3009 Broadway New York, NY 10027
- Submitted by a college official via email to [email protected]
- Emailed by the professor to [email protected] or
- Uploaded by the applicant through their Barnard Applicant Portal
- Uploaded to the Common App under the Program Materials section
- Uploaded by the recommender through the Common App after invited by the applicant or
- Emailed by the recommender to [email protected]
Financial Aid and Transfer Applicants
Because of limited funding available, Barnard considers financial need when reviewing admission applications from transfer students who are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.
Fall transfer applicants are reviewed with an awareness that financial need may be a factor in a student’s ability to attend. These students are eligible for both Barnard College grant aid and for federal and state aid. For those transfer students who are admitted with financial need, Barnard remains committed to meeting full demonstrated need in our financial aid packaging.
Barnard does not offer institutional financial aid to Spring transfer students. Federal student loans and state aid are still available to students who qualify for them, but students who require additional aid to attend Barnard are encouraged to apply for admission for the Fall term instead.
Barnard is unable to assist international transfer students with financial aid.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have been out of school for a number of years. do i still need to submit a college report or academic letter of recommendation.
Yes. Individuals applying to Barnard as transfer students are required to submit a College Report and a letter of recommendation from a college-level faculty member* who has taught you in an academic setting. Unfortunately, letters of recommendation from employers and high school teachers cannot be submitted in lieu of these requirements. If you feel these recommendations would supplement your application, we will accept employer or high school teacher recommendation as a supplement to the required academic letter.
*We recognize that transfer students come to Barnard College from a wide range of colleges and universities. Therefore, students who have the most personal contact with Teaching Assistants may find it more appropriate to ask a TA for a letter of recommendation.
Can I schedule an interview?
Interviews are not part of the transfer application process. We invite you to convey to us within the context of the short answer questions or the lengthier application essay any information that you feel we should be aware of in evaluating your candidacy.
Is on-campus housing guaranteed for transfer students?
While the College always hopes to be able to house as many applicants as possible, housing is not guaranteed for new transfer students. Prioritization for housing depends on a combination of deposit date and geographic distance from campus. The numbers of spaces in singles and/or rooms that do not require participation in a more comprehensive meal plan are typically limited.
Common App Transfer Guide – 2022-23
A college diploma features the name of just one institution. Yet, for many, this hardly tells the true story of their unique college journey, which is often an amalgam of experiences across two or more postsecondary settings. In fact, at some point, 37% of all U.S. college students temporarily transform into “transfer applicants,” a role that they are often thrust into with little preparation or support. This time, there is no high school guidance counselor waiting to hold their hand through the process. The transfer Common App looms before you, and little guidance is available this time.
Transfer students come in different shapes and sizes and the particular contours of a given applicant can dictate what type of process awaits. There are those who, for financial or academic reasons, began at a community college, performed well, and are now jumping up the big leagues of a four-year university. On the other end of the spectrum, there are transfer applicants already attending a reputable four-year establishment who have their hearts set on swapping out their present location for the highly-selective college of their dreams.
One common denominator is that no matter what type of transfer applicant you happen to be, you will likely be tasked with filling out the Common App for Transfer , a variation of the traditional Common App that you may have used when you originally applied to college. To assist you, the following article will address:
- Do I qualify as a transfer applicant?
- When are the deadlines to transfer colleges?
- How to complete each section of the Common App for Transfer
- Do I need SAT/ACT scores to transfer colleges?
- How to approach the Common App for Transfer Essay
- Chances of getting accepted as a transfer applicant
Let’s begin by exploring who qualifies as a transfer applicant?
Am I a Transfer or Freshman Applicant?
School policies vary here. At many schools, just taking one two or four-year college course post-high school is enough to make you a transfer applicant. At other schools, you’ll need 24-30 credits under your belt before transferring is even an option. Fortunately, our Dataverse has an institution-by-intuition breakdown. Check out our sortable chart at this link .
When is the transfer deadline?
Each college sets their own transfer deadline or deadlines; some schools only have one application deadline each year while others have two. The most common time to apply as a fall transfer (for the following year) is around March. In fact all eight Ivy League schools have annual deadlines between March 1st and March 15th.
Many universities also offer a deadline for those wishing to start at a new school in the spring semester; these applications are typically due between October 1st and December 1st (although there are outliers). For a complete and up-to-date list of transfer deadlines for the current transfer admissions cycle visit our Dataverse .
How to complete the Common App for Transfer – A section by section breakdown
There are four sections to the transfer Common App: 1) Personal Information, 2) Academic History, 3) Supporting Information, and 4) Program Materials.
This includes your basic demographic info including ethnicity, physical address, gender identity, and information about your parents/guardians. Nothing here should be too challenging.
Here, you will put information about your high school, courses you completed in college, and standardized tests you previously took (if applicable). This can include SAT/ACT and AP/IB exams.
The first subcategory within this section is labeled as “Experiences”. This is quite different from the “Activities List” which is required as part of the regular Common App. Applicants should feel free to include any experience that helps paint a picture of how they presently spend their time. This could include things like hobbies, family responsibilities, or paid work. Greater emphasis should be placed on experiences that have occurred after exiting high school. Relevant high school activities should be included, but only when they directly connect to present pursuits (i.e. a current business major was President of his Future Business Leaders of America chapter in high school).
This area is akin to the supplemental applications that students fill out in the regular application cycle. In this section, potential transfers must address school-specific essays and questions that require a short response. It’s important to always check the “Questions” tab within the Program Materials section as some schools only list their essay(s) here. Other schools will list the main essay in the “Documents” section, which can be a source of confusion. Within the “Documents” tab, you will also find a list of documentation required by each prospective transfer institution. You can very easily upload directly into the form. This can include items such as college transcripts, a mid-term report, or professor recommendations.
Do I have to submit standardized test scores?
Even since the arrival of COVID in 2020, the majority of American colleges have introduced test-optional policies . This option not to include test scores also applies to transfer applicants. Some schools like the UC and CSU systems have gone test-blind. This means that they will not even consider SAT or ACT scores in the admissions process. You can view our complete l ist of test-blind colleges . Overall, 99% of colleges in 2023 will not require transfer students to submit test scores. However, at highly selective schools, submitting strong test scores may greatly improve your chances. For example, elite SAT scores will help you if transferring to Ivy League or Ivy-equivalent institutions.
The Common App Transfer essay
Not every college requires an essay as part of their transfer application; however, plenty of selective institutions do. There are schools that will offer multiple prompt choices, but many present applicants with only one prompt asking them, in essence, to explain why they want to transfer to a given institution. For example:
“The personal statement helps colleges get to know you better as a person and a student. Please provide a statement discussing your educational path. How does continuing your education at a new institution help you achieve your future goals?”
Students should treat this essay similarly to the “Why Us?” essay encountered in many universities’ Common App supplemental sections for general admission. Some applicants mistakenly dedicate this section to bashing their former school or chronicling their own personal tragedies. While you do want to explain how your past experience has brought you to this moment, make sure that you are crystal clear about your vision for the great things that lie ahead. In the words of Kierkegaard, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Briefly tell them where you have been and then move the conversation toward the future.
What are my chances of getting accepted?
Of course, the answer to this question depends on whether you are applying to Columbia University (15% transfer acceptance rate) or the University of Missouri-Columbia (71% transfer acceptance rate). Last year, schools such as Bowdoin, Bates, Pomona, and Amherst all accepted fewer than 10% of applicants. Meanwhile, other stellar schools like George Mason, the University of Georgia, Indiana University, Elon, Clemson, and the University at Buffalo all accepted the majority of those who applied.
Note: All of the previously mentioned schools are featured in College Transitions’ book— Colleges Worth Your Money: What America’s Top Schools Can Do for You (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022).
It is also important to understand that transfer rates can be extremely volatile from year to year. Figures can be swayed by institutional needs and the number of open slots. For example, Dartmouth’s transfer acceptance rate has hovered between 0.5% and 10% in recent years.
Common App Transfer Guide – Final Thoughts
As a transfer applicants, you’ll be required to do things that you were not asked to do as a freshman applicant. For example, you may be required to complete a mid-term report , college report , and provide transcripts from your high school and current college. You may also need to line up recommendation letters. These items take time to complete. You will need to be highly organized and motivated in order to successfully navigate the transfer application process.
A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew’s experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans two decades. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.
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Writing a Personal Statement for Transfer Students
EssayEdge > Blog > Writing a Personal Statement for Transfer Students
Transferring from one college to another becomes more and more popular decision among the students. Someone wants to find new opportunities, and for someone, it is a forced decision. Also, people may move from one city to another, the circumstances of life can also change. Therefore, transferring is the most convenient way to pursue education independently from the things that forced this decision. When entering the current college, you faced the challenge of submitting college personal statement . However, in this article, we have decided to discuss how to write a personal statement for college transfer as it has some differences regarding the common personal statement.
Table of Contents:
What to Include in the College Transfer Essay?
The main difference between a usual essay for college admissions and a transfer essay is in the content. In fact, it cardinally differs. However, the thing they have in common is the structure. Every guideline on how to write a personal statement for college transfer is supposed to tell you that it is an essay that usually contains from three to five paragraphs to uncover the following points. Present your personal experiences in current circumstances If you don’t know how to start a personal statement , think about presenting the main idea of your essay in a brief way. Hook the reader with the fact that you are transferring, provide a little clue about what made you make this decision. However, don’t waste the words as personal statement word limit is not infinitive. You will have the chance to provide detailed background information in further paragraphs. Go on with explanations Once the reader has understood that you are to change the college, provide the details about the things that made you think about the transfer. If you are doubting about how to write a personal statement for college transfer and what to include in the second paragraph, think about presenting your current issues or challenges that made you transfer. Focus on the main reason that forced you to make such a decision and include it in your first paragraph. Don’t be general when providing the information about the way you came up with your transfer, be specific and try to grab the reader. You can devote the second and third paragraphs for these reasons if you have a lot of things to say or you want to provide very specified details. If you need some personal assistance coping with this task, you can refer to college essay editing to receive constructive feedback to help you put everything together. Talk about the benefits of the new college in your life Talking about background is great. However, do not overconcentrate on that. Provide the reasons you have chosen exactly this college and why it is a perfect match for you. Having the general information on how to write a personal statement for college transfer will help you specify the details on how to end personal statement. Do some research to understand the features of a new college would make you interested the most. Also, you can discuss why exactly this college grabbed your attention and how will you fit the studying community.
What Things should be Avoided in the Transfer Essay?
Once we have clarified that you are supposed to mention a lot of data in your college transfer essay, let’s find out how to write a personal statement for college transfer and to fail it with some inappropriate moves or phrases. 1. Do not judge Even if your current educational institution is on the edge of being the worst thing in your life, don’t provide your subjective opinion in the way of judgment. Provide objective reasons for your transfer but not try to transform your essay into a cry of your soul. Describe the things as they were but without embellishing. 2. Do not copy It is an obvious fact that when searching for information on how to write a personal statement for college transfer, you will find a lot of successful samples . Stealing any information from those essays won’t play in your favor anyway, you will simply lose the chance of transferring to the college of your choice. If you have any doubts regarding your essay, its content, or structure, we advise you to refer to essay editing service . Professional editors will help you deal with this challenging task. 3. Do not brag Even if you know that you are a perfect fit for a chosen college, do not brag about your achievements. You can somehow mention the best and strongest sides in your essay but not try to take out them in the first place. In case you don’t know how to write a personal statement for college transfer to impress the reader, bragging is certainly not your choice.
How to Manage the Process Correctly?
So, we have gone through the main points of how to write a personal statement for college transfer regarding the content. However, the success of the essay also depends on many other factors. We have prepared a list of things that will increase your chances of having an outstanding transfer essay. 1. Start in advance Postponing the process of writing till the last second isn’t the winning idea. Instead, check the submission deadlines and try to cope with your time management to have everything done in time. 2. Do a thorough research Providing reliable information is the task you will face. Search as much data about the new college as it is available. You have to be aware of all the crucial information regarding the college, application, and studying process. It will help you not only in case you don’t know how to write a personal statement for college transfer but also during your student life. 3. Check the essay Be sure that your essay is error-free. It is important to provide a positive impression of your personality even at the stage of essay submission. Ask for help if you need it but do your best to provide the essay without mistakes.
See also: How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School .
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5 Tips for Writing a Stellar Transfer Personal Statement
Whether you’re transferring from a community college or a four-year university, your transfer personal statement should be quite different than one written by a high school senior as a prospective freshman. Most essay prompts for transfer applications, in fact, don’t rely solely on the questions you’d normally find on the Common App or Coalition App system essay sections, but also explicitly ask applicants to write about their reason for wanting to transfer to their university. Transfer students SHOULD have a specific reason for leaving a school and admissions officers what to know what that reason is.
Transfer essays also tend to have a higher word limit than personal statements for freshmen applications. The University of Washington, for instance, requires transfer students to write an admissions essay that is between 750 and 1000 words, while their essay requirements for freshman applications include a main essay limited to 500 words and a short response limited to 300 words. Because of the extended word limit, transfer essays can provide more in-depth information about you, the applicant, than a personal statement from a freshman might. Still, I bet you’re wondering what should go into your transfer personal statement. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Explain why you want to transfer schools
As one important aspect of your essay, you should discuss the specific reasons you wish to leave your current college/university or program of study while avoiding badmouthing your current school. Focus on the advantages and positive aspects of the university you want to transfer to, instead of what you don’t like about where you currently are. List the specific academic reasons you want to transfer so that they are clearly articulated for the application reader. Again, your reasons for transferring should form the foundation of your entire essay, so don’t gloss over this part of your personal statement.
Wondering what to include in your transfer admissions essay? Here's my advice.
2. Discuss how you’ve prepared to transfer schools
Most colleges and four-year universities have credit requirements for transfer students that must be met before they can apply for admission or enroll. Still discussing how you’ve prepared yourself academically for a particular major, or university, in general, is a must for your transfer personal statement . Not only does it demonstrate that you’re prepared academically, but it also provides you with the space to explain your current academic interests, shows that you’ve taken advantage of your current academic opportunities, and demonstrates your devotion to learning.
Infographic created by Meliani Wilder
3. Show you’re ready for college
Personal statements from transfer students should reflect the experience and maturity of someone who has already attended college because they have. It should also demonstrate an understanding of the effort it takes to pursue a college education and balance competing demands in a university setting. All these qualities will demonstrate that you can thrive in a high-pressure college environment.
4. Pay attention to grammar and style
Like with most college essays, your writing quality is an important part of “the score” you receive for your transfer personal statement as a part of your application. Paying attention to detail, grammar, and style also shows you’ve dedicated time and energy to your essay. If you’re not strong with writing, have a trusted friend, teacher, counselor, or relative read through your personal statement after you’ve finished to help you with any writing errors. I’m a die-hard fan of Grammarly and use it for all of my writing.
5. Don’t hide the bad stuff
If for any reason, you’ve had less than stellar grades, now is the time to take responsibility. Rather than ignore previous academic challenges, explain the steps you have taken to conquer them. If you had low grades in Algebra and Calculus in high school , for instance, you might discuss how you’ve since then taken Algebra II and Advanced Calculus and earned high marks. This will help demonstrate that these subjects are no longer a weakness for you.
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Tips for Your Personal Statement
Applying to college can be overwhelming, especially if you plan to be the first in your family to attend a four-year institution. One of the most daunting parts is trying to write about yourself in 650 words or less. Below is our best advice on how to make the personal components of your application shine:
Don’t Write What You Think “They” Want
Admissions officers are human beings and are looking to admit unique students with a variety of interests. Remember, you should never try to fit yourself to Cornell or any university you are applying to. Instead think about what Cornell can do for you on your educational journey instead of what you could do to satisfy Cornell. While you may not think you are unique, you have a story that only you can tell — make sure it comes through.
While easier said than done, trust your intuition. If you overthink the personal statement, you may end up with a confused statement with many different directions. Trust your gut and tell your story.
Form Connections Between your Commitments, Interests, and Traits
Think outside the box. For example, one student wrote about crocheting and how the patience gained from learning that activity led to them being patient with themselves when tackling new academic challenges. Personally, I wrote about when I first began learning to use the abacus. I was so clumsy at first, but I just keep working at it until it clicked!
Record Spontaneous Thoughts
If you are just getting started on your application or are experiencing writer’s block, find a recording device and answer the application question as if it were an interview. Speaking freely allows certain thoughts and ideas to come out naturally that may not have if you were writing or typing. These “uncut gems” can spark new inspiration for your application.
One applicant didn’t and said, “I tortured students over the summer.” What the applicant meant to say was, “I tutored students over the summer.” Big difference.
Have Multiple People Read Your Essay
Allow two pairs of eyes to read your essay. At least one of these readers needs to be someone you are close to and who can ensure your essay authentically communicates who you are. If they were reading the essay and couldn’t tell it was you, you aren’t being authentic enough. The second reader should look at first impressions, they should be someone you’re less close to, maybe someone from a writing center. Ask them what they would think of you after reading your essay and what kind of impression your words leave. Remember that admissions officers are strangers to you, so they will be unable to fill in any gaps.
If you plan on talking about your ethnic/racial identity, remember that your ethnicity/race are your roots, not your fruits. By this I mean that, yes, our background has a lot to do with who we are, but ask yourself, “What do I plan to accomplish as an individual?” While our roots keep us grounded, our fruits are our choices, and we want to know how the racial/ethnic background you describe impacts your plans and goals.
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As you prepare your transfer application, we know that there is a lot to keep in mind—from deadlines, to transcripts and your personal statement, to understanding what we're looking for from our transfer applicants. You'll find the answers to the most common questions here, but know that the entire Transfer team is ready to help.
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Transfer applicants apply using the CU Boulder Transfer Application .
The application fee is:
- $65 for domestic applicants
- $70 for international applicants
Payable online at the time you submit your application or by check or money order (made payable to the University of Colorado) after you submit your application. If submitting a check or money order, include your full legal name and date of birth. We recognize that some students may be faced with financial constraints in paying the application fee. Waivers may be granted for documented hardships if you submit an application fee waiver form.
If you are eligible for an application fee waiver you will have the opportunity to complete a request for an application fee waiver within the CU Boulder Transfer Application.
Complete the items listed below:
Transfer Personal Statement (required, 250–650 words): At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance.
Transfer Academic Interest (required, 250 word limit): Please share a bit more about your academic interests. What do you hope to study at CU Boulder? What has inspired your interests in this area? Or if you are undecided, what area(s) of study are you considering? Think about your prior/current coursework, extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experiences, future goals, or anything else that has shaped your interests.
Community Disruption Information (optional): Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. We care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.
Used to verify graduation date. Transcripts can be official or unofficial and submitted directly to CU Boulder from the issuing institution. If you submit unofficial transcripts for admission purposes, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to course registration and / or financial aid applied toward your bill. Transcripts can be mailed or sent to [email protected] .
Note: Official transcripts are mailed or sent electronically directly to us by the issuing institution or by the student if the transcript is still in its original sealed envelope. Official transcripts sent via a third party to the student and then uploaded to the application status page are considered unofficial transcripts.
Review International Transcript Requirements
Please note: if you have not graduated and do not plan to graduate from high school, you must request an official copy of your certificate of high school equivalency and official GED, TASC or HiSET scores, plus an official transcript of any high school course work completed.
Note: Official transcripts are mailed or sent electronically directly to us by the issuing institution or by the student if the transcript is still in its original sealed envelope. Unofficial transcripts can be used for the purpose of making admissions decisions. All credentials written in languages other than English must be accompanied by a literal certified English translation. Official transcripts sent via a third party to the student and then uploaded to the application status page are considered unofficial transcripts.
We require transcripts from each and every collegiate institution you attended during and after graduating from high school or secondary school, whether or not courses were completed and whether or not you believe the record will affect your admission or transfer credit. For admission review purposes, we prefer official transcripts but will accept unofficial transcripts as well. If you are submitting an unofficial transcript, please refer to this guide for more information on the requirements we have for unofficial transcripts. Transcripts can be mailed or sent to [email protected] . If you submit unofficial transcripts for admission purposes, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to course registration and/or financial aid applied toward your bill.
Note: Official transcripts are mailed or sent electronically directly to us by the issuing institution or by the student if the transcript is still in its original sealed envelope. Official transcripts sent via a third party to the student and then uploaded to the application status page are considered unofficial transcripts.
Additional Required Materials
ACT or SAT scores are not required for transfer students, but you may provide self-reported scores if you would like us to take your scores into consideration when reviewing your application.
Scores will be considered official if submitted electronically by the testing agency or if they are included on your official high school transcript.
CU Boulder's SAT code is 4841 and the ACT code is 0532.
In addition to our general admission requirements, all international applicants are also required to meet a minimum standard of English proficiency. International students who do not meet this requirement may still be eligible for conditional admission.
Review English Proficiency Requirements
Applicants must also complete a College of Music application after their admission application has been submitted, provide a letter of reference and schedule an audition.
Visit the College of Music transfer website for more information.
If you were previously enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at CU Boulder and you want to reapply for a 2023 term , please submit the readmit application .
Questions about transferring to CU Boulder?
I've submitted my application.
While we are processing and reviewing your application, it is important that you regularly check your email and your application's status through your application status page. If you are missing anything, or if we need additional information, we will notify you in one (if not both) places. You should also continue to research your housing and dining options. You cannot apply for on-campus housing until you are admitted, but it's a good idea to research so you're prepared when the time comes or look into off-campus housing.
Check Your Application Status
Once you submit an application you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your application status page. Your application status page includes a checklist of the credentials we have and have not received, as well as information on what you need to do next, if anything.
Admission Decision Timing
Transfer applicants who submit a complete application (including official or unofficial transcripts, personal statement, academic interest question, application fee or waiver, and other necessary items) will receive an admission decision update within 4-6 weeks.
Apply for Financial Aid & Scholarships
Transfer students who submit complete applications are automatically considered for several transfer awards and can apply for financial aid and scholarships while waiting for an admission decision.
- June 1 is the deadline for transfer students to submit complete admissions applications to be reviewed for Fall consideration and automatic consideration scholarships.
- June 15 is the deadline for the CU Boulder Scholarship Application & Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for scholarships based on financial need.
- Spring and Summer applicants may submit a FAFSA for Spring and Summer terms but institutional aid and scholarships are awarded every academic year starting with the fall semester.
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Sample College Transfer Essay
A sample essay by a student transferring from amherst to penn.
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- Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania
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The following sample essay was written by a student named David. He wrote the transfer essay below for the Common Transfer Application in response to the prompt, "Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve" (250 to 650 words). David is attempting to transfer from Amherst College to the University of Pennsylvania . As far as admissions standards go, this is a lateral move—both schools are extremely selective. His letter will need to be extremely strong for his transfer application to be successful.
Key Takeaways: A Winning Transfer Essay
- Have a clear academic reason for your transfer. Personal reasons are fine, but academics need to come first.
- Stay positive. Don't speak badly of your current school. Emphasize what you like about your target school, not what you dislike about your current school.
- Be meticulous. Grammar, punctuation, and style matter. Show that you put time and care into your writing.
David's Transfer Application Essay
During the summer after my first year of college, I spent six weeks volunteering at an archaeological excavation in Hazor, site of the largest tel (mound) in Israel. My time in Hazor was not easy—wake-up came at 4:00 a.m., and by noontime temperatures were often in the 90s. The dig was sweaty, dusty, back-breaking work. I wore out two pairs of gloves and the knees in several pairs of khakis. Nevertheless, I loved every minute of my time in Israel. I met interesting people from around the world, worked with amazing students and faculty from Hebrew University, and became fascinated with the current efforts to create a portrait of life in the Canaanite period.
Upon my return to Amherst College for my sophomore year, I soon came to realize that the school does not offer the exact major I now hope to pursue. I'm majoring in anthropology, but the program at Amherst is almost entirely contemporary and sociological in its focus. More and more my interests are becoming archaeological and historical. When I visited Penn this fall, I was impressed by the breadth of offerings in anthropology and archaeology, and I absolutely loved your Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Your broad approach to the field with emphases on understanding both the past and present has great appeal to me. By attending Penn, I hope to broaden and deepen my knowledge in anthropology, participate in more summer field work, volunteer at the museum, and eventually, go on to graduate school in archaeology.
My reasons for transferring are almost entirely academic. I have made many good friends at Amherst, and I have studied with some wonderful professors. However, I do have one non-academic reason for being interested in Penn. I originally applied to Amherst because it was comfortable—I come from a small town in Wisconsin, and Amherst felt like home. I'm now looking forward to pushing myself to experience places that aren't quite so familiar. The kibbutz at Kfar HaNassi was one such environment, and the urban environment of Philadelphia would be another.
As my transcript shows, I have done well at Amherst and I am convinced I can meet the academic challenges of Penn. I know I would grow at Penn, and your program in anthropology perfectly matches my academic interests and professional goals.
Before we even get to the critique of David's essay, it's important to put his transfer into context. David is attempting to transfer into an Ivy League school. Penn is not the most selective of the country's top universities, but the transfer acceptance rate is still around 6% (at Harvard and Stanford, that number is closer to 1%). David needs to approach this effort at transfer realistically — even with excellent grades and a stellar essay, his chances of success are far from guaranteed.
That said, he has many things going for him — he is coming from an equally demanding college where he has earned good grades, and he seems like the type of student who will certainly succeed at Penn. He will need strong letters of recommendation to round out his application.
Analysis of David's Transfer Essay
Now on to the essay... Let's break down the discussion of David's transfer essay into several categories.
The Reasons for Transfer
The strongest feature of David's essay is the focus. David is pleasingly specific in presenting his reasons for transferring. He knows exactly what he wants to study, and he has a clear understanding of what both Penn and Amherst have to offer him. David's description of his experience in Israel defines the focus of his essay, and he then connects that experience to his reasons for wanting to transfer. There are lots of bad reasons to transfer, but David's clear interest in studying anthropology and archaeology makes his motives seem both well thought-out and reasonable.
Many transfer applicants are trying to move to a new college because they are running away from some kind of bad experience, sometimes something academic, sometimes something more personal. David, however, clearly likes Amherst and is running towards something—an opportunity at Penn that better matches his newly discovered professional goals. This is a big positive factor for his application.
The Common Transfer Application instructions state that the essay needs to be at least 250 words. The maximum length is 650 words. David's essay comes in at around 380 words. It is tight and concise. He doesn't waste time talking about his disappointments with Amherst, nor does he put much effort into explaining the things that other parts of his application will cover such as grades and extracurricular involvement. He does have a lot more space left to elaborate, but in this case the letter gets the job done well with few words.
David gets the tone perfect, something that is difficult to do in a transfer essay. Let's face it—if you are transferring it is because there is something about your current school that you don't like. It's easy to be negative and critical of your classes, your professors, your college environment, and so on. It's also easy to come across as a whiner or an ungenerous and angry person who doesn't have the inner resources to make the most of one's circumstances. David avoids these pitfalls. His representation of Amherst is extremely positive. He praises the school while noting that the curricular offerings do not match his professional goals.
Partly because of the tone discussed above, David comes across as a pleasant person, someone who the admissions folks are likely to want to have as part of their campus community. Moreover, David presents himself as someone who likes to push himself to grow. He is honest in his reasons for going to Amherst—the school seemed like a good "fit" given his small-town upbringing. It is, therefore, impressive to see him so actively working to expand his experiences beyond his provincial roots. David has clearly grown at Amherst, and he is looking forward to growing more at Penn.
When applying to a place like Penn, the technical aspects of the writing need to be flawless. David's prose is clear, engaging and free of errors. If you struggle on this front, be sure to check out these tips for improving your essay's style . And if grammar isn't your greatest strength, be sure to work through your essay with someone who does have strong grammar skills.
A Final Word on David's Transfer Essay
David's college transfer essay does exactly what an essay needs to do, and he includes the features of a strong transfer essay . He clearly articulates his reasons for transferring, and he does so in a positive and specific way. David presents himself as a serious student with clear academic and professional goals. We have little doubt that he has the skills and intellectual curiosity to succeed at Penn, and he has made a strong argument about why this particular transfer makes a lot of sense.
Odds are still against David's success given the competitive nature of Ivy League transfers, but he has strengthened his application with his essay.
Watch Now: How to Transfer Schools
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Transfer Student Admission Requirements
Illinois State University is a leading destination for transfer students in Illinois. With 30 percent of our students transferring from other colleges and universities, Illinois State is known for being a transfer-friendly institution.
Many programs have required and recommended courses and minimum GPA requirements, in addition to the University Requirements listed below.
- Transferring Credit
- Transfer Admission Guide
Due to space limitations and the competitiveness of the applicant pool, it may not be possible to offer admission to all qualified applicants. Highest admission priority will be granted to transfer students with the strongest academic records. Earning an associate's degree does not guarantee admission.
Transfer students with a minimum 2.4 GPA may be admitted to the University as undeclared if program prerequisites were not met or if space is not available in the preferred major. Students with 75 or more semester hours completed will not be admitted as undeclared.
What Admissions considers:
- Official college transcript from each college or university attended (cumulative college GPA)
- Prerequisite college coursework , for some academic programs
- Good academic standing at the last college attended
- Optional personal statement
If you are a transfer student with fewer than 24 semester hours at the time you apply, you will also need:
- High school transcript (cumulative GPA, grade trends, and rigor of courses completed)
- Official SAT or ACT scores sent from the testing agency (optional)
- GED scores (if non-high school graduate)
- Test-takers must score a minimum of 150 on each part of the GED
- If all four sections were completed prior to December 31, 2013:
- Minimum score of 410 on each of the five tests
- Average battery score of 450
Please note: Remedial coursework will not be taken into consideration when calculating the admission GPA or the number of semester hours earned at the time of application.
General Coursework Recommendations
We encourage all transfer students to complete the course equivalents of the following courses before they enroll at Illinois State:
- Introductory-level composition (ENG 101)
- Intermediate-level composition (ENG 145)
- Introductory-level speech (COM 110)
- An Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) approved math course (non-remedial, transferable math)
The Associate of Science degree from an Illinois public community college does not require the following courses: one humanities/fine art and one social and behavioral science. If you would like your Associate of Science degree to complete your general education requirements, we recommend completing these two courses at the community college before you transfer. However, these two courses can also be completed while attending Illinois State.
The Associate of Arts degree will fulfill general education requirements automatically.
Many programs have required and recommended courses and minimum GPA requirements, in addition to the University requirements. Please review the program requirements for your intended major before you apply.
Foreign Language Graduation Requirements
It is helpful for transfer students who wish to pursue a major in the College of Arts and Sciences or any Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree to complete foreign language graduation requirements prior to attending Illinois State.
The College of Arts and Sciences requirement may be met by:
- Three years of one language in high school, OR
- Completion of the second semester (LAN 112) or higher of a college-level foreign language (including American Sign Language) with a grade of C or better.
B.A. candidates must successfully complete three semesters (through LAN 115) OR pass a course proficiency test. These are required for graduation, not admission.
Admitted Transfer Student Profile
Middle 50% ranges for 2021.
All applicants are welcome to submit a personal statement for review, though it is not required to complete your application. This statement may be considered along with other application materials to determine eligibility for admission. If you opt not to submit a statement and further review is needed to make an admission decision, we will request a personal statement from you at that time.
If you would like to submit a personal statement, your submission should be approximately 500 words in length and address the contributions you are prepared to make to our community, both academically and otherwise. Specifically, your statement should:
- Identify any circumstances that affected your academic performance, if applicable
- Make clear your commitment to academic success in college, acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses and your plans to utilize available resources
- Articulate your readiness to engage productively in our campus community outside the classroom
Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, what is a personal statement everything you need to know about the college essay.
College Admissions , College Essays
In addition to standardized test scores and transcripts, a personal statement or essay is a required part of many college applications. The personal statement can be one of the most stressful parts of the application process because it's the most open ended.
In this guide, I'll answer the question, "What is a personal statement?" I'll talk through common college essay topics and what makes for an effective personal statement.
Even the terminology can be confusing if you aren't familiar with it, so let's start by defining some terms:
Personal statement — an essay you write to show a college admissions committee who you are and why you deserve to be admitted to their school. It's worth noting that, unlike "college essay," this term is used for application essays for graduate school as well.
College essay —basically the same as a personal statement. (I'll be using the terms interchangeably.)
Essay prompt —a question or statement that your college essay is meant to respond to.
Supplemental essay —an extra school or program specific essay beyond the basic personal statement.
Many colleges ask for only one essay. However, some schools do ask you to respond to multiple prompts or to provide supplemental essays in addition to a primary personal statement.
Either way, don't let it stress you out! This guide will cover everything you need to know about the different types of college essays and get you started thinking about how to write a great one:
- Why colleges ask for an essay
- What kinds of essay questions you'll see
- What sets great essays apart
- Tips for writing your own essay
Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay?
There are a couple of reasons that colleges ask applicants to submit an essay, but the basic idea is that it gives them more information about you, especially who you are beyond grades and test scores.
#1: Insight Into Your Personality
The most important role of the essay is to give admissions committees a sense of your personality and what kind of addition you'd be to their school's community . Are you inquisitive? Ambitious? Caring? These kinds of qualities will have a profound impact on your college experience, but they're hard to determine based on a high school transcript.
Basically, the essay contextualizes your application and shows what kind of person you are outside of your grades and test scores . Imagine two students, Jane and Tim: they both have 3.5 GPAs and 1200s on the SAT. Jane lives in Colorado and is the captain of her track team, while Tim lives in Vermont and regularly contributes to the school paper, but they both want to be doctors and they both volunteer at the local hospital.
As similar as Jane and Tim seem on paper, in reality they're actually quite different, and their unique perspectives come through in their essays. Jane writes about how looking into her family history for a school project made her realize how the discovery of modern medical treatments like antibiotics and vaccines had changed the world and drove her to pursue a career as a medical researcher. Tim, on the other hand, recounts a story about how a kind doctor helped him overcome his fear of needles, an interaction that reminded him of the value of empathy and inspired him to become a family practitioner. These two students may seem outwardly similar but their motivations and personalities are very different.
Without an essay, your application is essentially a series of numbers: a GPA, SAT scores, the number of hours spent preparing for quiz bowl competitions. The personal statement is your chance to stand out as an individual.
#2: Evidence of Writing Skills
A secondary purpose of the essay is to serve as a writing sample and help colleges see that you have the skills needed to succeed in college classes. The personal statement is your best chance to show off your writing , so take the time to craft a piece you're really proud of.
That said, don't panic if you aren't a strong writer. Admissions officers aren't expecting you to write like Joan Didion; they just want to see that you can express your ideas clearly.
No matter what, your essay should absolutely not include any errors or typos .
#3: Explanation of Extenuating Circumstances
For some students, the essay is also a chance to explain factors affecting their high school record. Did your grades drop sophomore year because you were dealing with a family emergency? Did you miss out on extracurriculars junior year because of an extended medical absence? Colleges want to know if you struggled with a serious issue that affected your high school record , so make sure to indicate any relevant circumstances on your application.
Keep in mind that in some cases there will be a separate section for you to address these types of issues, as well as any black marks on your record like expulsions or criminal charges.
#4: Your Reasons for Applying to the School
Many colleges ask you to write an essay or paragraph about why you're applying to their school specifically . In asking these questions, admissions officers are trying to determine if you're genuinely excited about the school and whether you're likely to attend if accepted .
I'll talk more about this type of essay below.
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What Kind of Questions Do Colleges Ask?
Thankfully, applications don't simply say "Please include an essay about yourself"—they include a question or prompt that you're asked to respond to . These prompts are generally pretty open ended and can be approached in a lot of different ways .
Nonetheless, most questions fall into a few main categories. Let's go through each common type of prompt, with examples from the Common Application, the University of California application, and a few individual schools.
Prompt Type 1: Your Personal History
This sort of question asks you to write about a formative experience, important event, or key relationship from your life . Admissions officers want to understand what is important to you and how your background has shaped you as a person.
These questions are both common and tricky. The most common pitfall students fall into is trying to tell their entire life stories—it's better to focus in on a very specific point in time and explain why it was meaningful to you.
Common App 1
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Common App 5
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
University of California 2
Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
University of California 6
Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
Prompt Type 2: Facing a Problem
A lot of prompts deal with how you solve problems, how you cope with failure, and how you respond to conflict. College can be difficult, both personally and academically, and admissions committees want to see that you're equipped to face those challenges .
The key to these types of questions is to identify a real problem, failure, or conflict ( not a success in disguise) and show how you adapted and grew from addressing the issue.
Common App 2
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Harvard University 7
The Harvard College Honor Code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
Prompt Type 3: Diversity
Most colleges are pretty diverse, with students from a wide range of backgrounds. Essay questions about diversity are designed to help admissions committees understand how you interact with people who are different from you .
In addressing these prompts, you want to show that you're capable of engaging with new ideas and relating to people who may have different beliefs than you.
Common App 3
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Johns Hopkins University
Founded in the spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests, and pursue new experiences.
Use this space to share something you'd like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity, or your community), and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins.
Brown University 2
Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)
Whatever you do, don't ever recycle these essays for more than one school.
There are thousands of universities and colleges. Why are you interested in attending Chapman?
Why are you interested in attending Columbia University?
Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you?
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
Prompt Type 6: Creative Prompts
More selective schools often have supplemental essays with stranger or more unique questions. University of Chicago is notorious for its weird prompts, but it's not the only school that will ask you to think outside the box in addressing its questions.
University of Chicago
What advice would a wisdom tooth have?
University of Richmond
Spiders are essential to the ecosystem. How are you essential to your community or will you be essential in your university community?
Ultimately, the best topics are ones that allow you to explain something surprising about yourself.
Since the main point of the essay is to give schools a sense of who you are, you have to open up enough to let them see your personality . Writing a good college essay means being honest about your feelings and experiences even when they aren't entirely positive.
In this context, honesty doesn't mean going on at length about the time you broke into the local pool at night and nearly got arrested, but it does mean acknowledging when something was difficult or upsetting for you. Think about the mall Santa example above. The essay won't work unless the writer genuinely acknowledges that he was a bad Santa and explains why.
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As I mentioned above, colleges want to know that you are a strong enough writer to survive in college classes . Can you express your ideas clearly and concisely? Can you employ specific details appropriately and avoid clichés and generalizations? These kinds of skills will serve you well in college (and in life!).
Nonetheless, admissions officers recognize that different students have different strengths. They aren't looking for a poetic magnum opus from someone who wants to be a math major. (Honestly, they aren't expecting a masterwork from anyone , but the basic point stands.) Focus on making sure that your thoughts and personality come through, and don't worry about using fancy vocabulary or complex rhetorical devices.
Above all, make sure that you have zero grammar or spelling errors . Typos indicate carelessness, which will hurt your cause with admissions officers.
Top 5 Essay-Writing Tips
Now that you have a sense of what colleges are looking for, let's talk about how you can put this new knowledge into practice as you approach your own essay. Below, I've collected my five best tips from years as a college essay counselor.
#1: Start Early!
No matter how much you want to avoid writing your essay, don't leave it until the last minute . One of the most important parts of the essay writing process is editing, and editing takes a lot of time. You want to be able to put your draft in a drawer for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes. You don't want to be stuck with an essay you don't really like because you have to submit your application tomorrow.
You need plenty of time to experiment and rewrite, so I would recommend starting your essays at least two months before the application deadline . For most students, that means starting around Halloween, but if you're applying early you'll need to get going closer to Labor Day.
Of course, it's even better to get a head start and begin your planning earlier. Many students like to work on their essays over the summer when they have more free time, but you should keep in mind that each year's application isn't usually released until August or September. Essay questions often stay the same from year to year, however. If you are looking to get a jump on writing, you can try to confirm with the school (or the Common App) if the essay questions will be the same as the previous year's.
#2: Pick a Topic You're Genuinely Excited About
One of the biggest mistakes students make is trying to write what they think the committee wants to hear. The truth is that there's no "right answer" when it comes to college essays —the best topics aren't limited to specific categories like volunteer experiences or winning a tournament. Instead, they're topics that actually matter to the writer .
"OK," you're thinking, "but what does she mean by 'a topic that matters to you'? Because to be perfectly honest, right now what really matters to me is that fall TV starts up this week, and I have a feeling I shouldn't write about that."
You're not wrong (although some great essays have been written about television ). A great topic isn't just something that you're excited about or that you talk to your friends about; it's something that has had a real, describable effect on your perspective .
This doesn't mean that you should overemphasize how something absolutely changed your life , especially if it really didn't. Instead, try to be as specific and honest as you can about how the experience affected you, what it taught you, or what you got out of it.
Let's go back to the TV idea. Sure, writing an essay about how excited you are for the new season of Gossip Girl probably isn't the quickest way to get yourself into college, but you could write a solid essay (in response to the first type of prompt) about how SpongeBob SquarePants was an integral part of your childhood. However, it's not enough to just explain how much you loved SpongeBob—you must also explain why and how watching the show every day after school affected your life. For example, maybe it was a ritual you shared with your brother, which showed you how even seemingly silly pieces of pop culture can bring people together. Dig beneath the surface to show who you are and how you see the world.
When you write about something you don't really care about, your writing will come out cliched and uninteresting, and you'll likely struggle to motivate yourself. When you write about something that is genuinely important to you, on the other hand, you can make even the most ordinary experiences—learning to swim, eating a meal, or watching TV—engaging .
At some point, you might even need to rewrite the whole essay. Even though it's annoying, starting over is sometimes the best way to get an essay that you're really proud of.
Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.
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You are required to complete a Personal Statement as part of your application. This is a critical part of your application, both for admission and scholarship consideration. Content, as well as the form, spelling, grammar, and punctuation will be considered. When you write your personal statement, tell us about the aspects of your life that are not apparent from your academic record.
Freshman applicants will choose one of the following prompts (400-600 words):
1.) Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
2.) Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
3.) An essay topic of your choice. If you have written another admissions essay that captures what you want the UW Tacoma Admissions Committee to know about, feel free to share it with us. Be sure to include the topic or question you answered.
Transfer applicants are asked to address the following writing prompt:
Describe how personal, professional or educational experiences have shaped your academic, career and/or personal goals. How will UW Tacoma help you attain these goals? (650 words)
Other comments (optional)
If there is anything else you think we should know, you can include that in the "Other Comments" section of the application.
Tips for Success
- Tell us who you are. We encourage you to share those aspects of your life that are not apparent from your transcripts. Be concise, but tell the whole story even if you need a little more space. All of the information you provide in your application and statement will remain confidential.
- Be specific. Personal Statements too often include sentences such as "I've always wanted to be a Husky" or "My whole family attended the UW." Though this may be important to you personally, such statements are not particularly valuable to the Admissions staff. Why? Because they don't tell us anything distinctive about your experiences and ultimate goals.
- You are a college student. Your Personal Statement should reflect the experience and maturity of someone who has already attended college. It should reflect your understanding of the components of an undergraduate education, such as general education and the major. We want to read how your academic and personal experience to date fits into your academic, career and personal goals and how UW Tacoma can help you attain these goals.
Write your statement first in a word processing program (such as Word). Then copy/paste your work into the application text box.
Here are some tips on how to write a great college essay .
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Five top tips for writing your personal statement
This article was last updated 14 December 2021.
With applications for UK undergraduate uni courses due in January, it's all starting to feel pretty real. The deadline is on 26 January 2022 for a majority of courses.
Whilst it might feel a bit overwhelming, your personal statement is a great chance to tell your chosen universities all about yourself and why you're passionate about the course you're applying for. But how do you know what makes a good statement? We caught up with StudyTuber and second-year student, Fran Tchapdeu (aka Simply Fran) , to get her top tips.
University is such a massive personal and financial investment, so it's so important to pick the right subject for you. I can assure you that, once you have, writing your personal statement will become less so of a chore and you'll actually start to enjoy it a lot more cos you're writing about a subject you really enjoy and you're expressing those interests.
We have to remember that, at the end of the day, these admissions tutors are reading through hundreds of personal statements every single day of students who are probably going to say they have a similar set of skills, such as communication and organisation. So we want our personal statements to stand out with unique examples of when we demonstrated those skills. Also, avoid just listing work experiences that you did. I really recommend reflecting upon what you actually learnt from each individual work experience and why that furthered your passion and interest in the degree that you want to do.
Now my third tip for your personal statement is to be yourself. The personal statement is very much that – your personal reasons for wanting to do that subject. A really good way of conveying this is that, when you're proofreading or redrafting your statement, look at it line by line and ask yourself: "does this sentence convey my personal passions and reasons and enthusiasm for doing this subject?" If it doesn't, maybe consider rewording it so it does.
Now my fourth point is to remember that your personal statement is almost like an essay. It's so important to remember that your personal statement must have a really good flow to it. As I said before, admissions tutors are probably spending hours reading through statements and it's so important that we try to make it easier for them by making our statements enjoyable to read, easy to read and also grammatically correct. A really good tip that I got from some of my teachers is to open all of your paragraphs off with a key sentence – a sentence that your whole paragraph will focus on and develop. Integrating your personal experiences with bursts of knowledge of the subjects you've been studying at A-levels can be a really nice way of structuring your statement.
Now my fifth tip is to be aware of the ratio of extracurricular activities to academic and super-curricular activities that your universities expect from your personal statement. Extracurricular activities are anything that you gain skills from but isn't directly related to your school work. Now super-curricular activities are things that are almost a development of the stuff you're learning at school. So books that you've read that relate to your History class, documentaries that you've watched that relate to what you were doing in GCSE Biology. For your more academic universities or science courses, they may expect a lot more super-curricular activities and academic activities. For more vocational courses, they may expect you to have more extracurricular activities and this may demonstrate that you have a lot of transferable skills.
There's no right or wrong way of writing your statement. As long as you're able to express yourself in a unique, creative way, this is absolutely fine. Don't think that you need to fit any kind of stereotypical mould. Universities want you to be yourself – they celebrate diversity and they want to see students from all walks of life with a range of experiences and interests.
Don't feel that you need to fit any stereotypical mould... universities want you to be yourself – they celebrate diversity and they want to see students from all walks of life.
More on Fran's top tips
1. make sure it's the right course for you.
As Fran explains, making sure you've picked the right course for you is essential for keeping motivated both in writing your personal statement and once you get to uni! She recommends asking yourself the following three questions to suss out if you've made the right decision:
- Which subjects or topics do I actually enjoy revising for?
- Which subjects or topics do I find myself wanting to know more about? For example, you might find yourself reading about them or watching documentaries
- What are my top skills and character traits and do they overlap with a profession that relates to that course? You could ask a parent, friend or teacher for some extra input if you're not sure.
2. Don't just list skills – give examples
Giving really solid examples of how you've demonstrated different skills or what you've learnt from different experiences will show the admissions tutors that you mean business. Here's a handy example from Fran's personal statement showing the difference between just listing skills versus demonstrating those skills:
- Listing skills: "I have good communication and time management skills"
- Demonstrating skills: "As Head Girl, I have enjoyed delivering various presentations and assemblies which have challenged my ability to confidently communicate. Also, balancing Head Girl duties alongside the workload of Year 13 demanded an increase in my time management skills."
3. Be authentic. Don't try to be someone else!
Getting your own voice, personality and passions across is really important, so your prospective universities can get a sense of what makes you tick. It's also important not to fall into the trap of accidentally copying bits of other people's statements, such as example statements you've seen online. They might be worded particularly nicely but be aware that the UCAS system has plagiarism software to make sure your work is original, so keep it true to you!
4. Get the details right. Grammar and structure count
OK, OK, we all know grammar is important, right? But what if it's just not your strong point? Fran suggests seeing if your teachers at school can help out, such as English teachers and subject teachers for the course you're hoping to study. If your school or college has a UCAS applications administrator, they could also be a good person to ask. Bear in mind that they may be getting requests from a lot of students so try to approach them early if possible! Or you could always call on a grammar-savvy friend or relative to help you dot the i's and cross the t's.
5. Balance academic and non-academic activities
As Fran says, different courses and universities may require different ratios of academic (super-curricular) to non-academic (extracurricular) activities to be discussed in your personal statement. To find out what your chosen universities expect, Fran suggests checking on their website for the information. If you're struggling to find it, she recommends seeing if there is a contact listed for their admissions team, who should be able to point you in the right direction.
Find out more
- Check out UCAS' personal statement tool for more advice on how to structure your personal statement
- Head to The Student Room to see their bank of example personal statements broken down by subject.
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Some schools will have transfer students fill out just the same application as incoming freshmen would. That being said, most college essays touch on a student's ambitions and experiences. Since you have already attended college for some time, your experience and skills have changed.
All applicants must write a personal statement and submit it with the transfer application for admission. The personal statement should be a comprehensive narrative essay outlining significant aspects of your academic and personal history, particularly those that provide context for your academic achievements and educational choices.
To support all transfer applicants, here are the adjustments we are committed to making for 2020-2021: Update the transfer personal statement prompt to align with the first-year essay prompts. Add an 'Educational Path' question to the member question bank so that it will continue to be available for members who wish to ask it.
Below are two transfer essays that helped students get into Duke and Amherst, respectively. Both institutions are very selective in transfer admissions. For fall 2018, Duke had a transfer...
Create a Common App for transfer account 1. Gather materials 2. Create an account 3. Add programs 4. Engage supporters 5. Transcript collection 1. Gather materials The info you'll need to start your application Filling out your application takes time.
Seven Essential steps for writing a transfer essay: Establish some of your core values. Explain why you chose your current school (the one you're leaving) in the first place. Offer specific reasons why you want to leave your current school. Show how you've made the best of things in your current situation.
Examples of Students' Successful Transfer Essays EXAMPLE 1: PERSONAL STATEMENT Solemnly, I stood before the double doors of the place I had only ever visited in my dreams. Self-consciously, I smoothed my skirt and straightened my jacket that was too hot for the Tallahassee summer. The massive
Transcripts. We accept official high school and college transcripts through the following methods: Electronic document delivery services (Parchment, National Student Clearinghouse, Naviance, etc.). If a destination address is requested, please input [email protected] or [email protected] Emailed by the school to [email protected]
Transfer students come in different shapes and sizes and the particular contours of a given applicant can dictate what type of process awaits. There are those who, for financial or academic reasons, began at a community college, performed well, and are now jumping up the big leagues of a four-year university. ... "The personal statement helps ...
Every guideline on how to write a personal statement for college transfer is supposed to tell you that it is an essay that usually contains from three to five paragraphs to uncover the following points. Present your personal experiences in current circumstances
5 Tips for Writing a Stellar Transfer Personal Statement — Koodoos - College Admissions Resources Everything you need to include in your college transfer essay- my thoughts as an admissions reader.
The second reader should look at first impressions, they should be someone you're less close to, maybe someone from a writing center. Ask them what they would think of you after reading your essay and what kind of impression your words leave. Remember that admissions officers are strangers to you, so they will be unable to fill in any gaps.
Required Materials for a Complete Transfer Application Start your transfer application 1. Application 2. Application fee 3. Personal Statement & Academic Interest Question 4. High school or secondary school transcript 5. College transcript Additional Required Materials SAT or ACT score International Applicants College of Music Applicants
Transfer students' resumes and personal statements should reflect their previous college knowledge and skills. Additionally, it should show an awareness of the time and work required to get a college degree as well as the need of juggling other obligations while attending school.
Have a clear academic reason for your transfer. Personal reasons are fine, but academics need to come first. Stay positive. Don't speak badly of your current school. Emphasize what you like about your target school, not what you dislike about your current school. Be meticulous. Grammar, punctuation, and style matter.
Admitted Transfer Student Profile Middle 50% ranges for 2021 2.93-3.67 GPA. Personal Statement. All applicants are welcome to submit a personal statement for review, though it is not required to complete your application. This statement may be considered along with other application materials to determine eligibility for admission.
Prompt Type 1: Your Personal History. This sort of question asks you to write about a formative experience, important event, or key relationship from your life. Admissions officers want to understand what is important to you and how your background has shaped you as a person. These questions are both common and tricky.
Transfer applicants are asked to address the following writing prompt: Describe how personal, professional or educational experiences have shaped your academic, career and/or personal goals. ... You are a college student. Your Personal Statement should reflect the experience and maturity of someone who has already attended college. It should ...
The personal statement is very much that - your personal reasons for wanting to do that subject. A really good way of conveying this is that, when you're proofreading or redrafting your...
Sample: personal statement for transfer students "Following my freshman year in high school, I spent 6 years helping at an ancient site in Hazor, the location of Israel's biggest tel (mound). My stay in Hazor was difficult—I had to get up at 4:00 a.m., and temps were sometimes in the 90s by midday. The digging was hot, dirty, and exhausting.