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A checklist for transferring colleges

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Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:00 pm

Did you recently decide to change your major to something that's not offered at your college? Are you hoping to move closer to home to spend more time with a sick family member? Maybe you're finding that your current college just isn't the right fit for you. Or are you simply ready to head onto a university after completing coursework at a community college?

Transferring colleges is extremely common for students, as there are many reasons why you might need a change of scenery. But transferring schools also takes some skillful navigating to make sure the transition goes smoothly. You won't be the first person to transfer, and certainly not the last, so schools are used to dealing with both incoming and outgoing transfers. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your transition to a new school is as seamless as possible:

* As you are considering different schools, perhaps the most important thing you can do is find out how many of your credits will transfer. Meet with admissions departments to get an estimate and be sure to bring your transcripts from your current school. If you don't like the answer that you hear from the admissions department, you might want to try your luck with the head of the department to which you'd be transferring. Sometimes department heads - or their staff - can find ways to give you credit for previous work even if you were told otherwise on your initial review.

* Once you decide to transfer, meet with the admissions or student services department at your previous school to determine what you need to do to end your enrollment at the school. You should be able to find information on the process on the school's website. Make sure to understand any remaining financial obligations, close school-related accounts and receive your money from any positive balances. If you live in student housing - especially if you are transferring midyear or mid-semester - be sure to notify the appropriate department that you won't be returning.

* Factor in financial aid considerations. Perhaps most importantly, revise your FAFSA form to reflect your transfer. It's also a good idea to see what kind of scholarships and aid are available from your new school as soon as possible, so you can take full advantage of them. Notify your student loan providers of the change.

* Learn about student services available at your new school. Just as you probably had advisers at your old school, it's important to find and establish relationships with advisers at your new school. Your new school may also have programs dedicated to easing the transition for transfer students, which could be useful as you settle in to your new school.

Transferring colleges isn't quite as big a transition as heading to college in the first place for most, but it's still important to acclimate yourself to your new surroundings. Getting involved with student organization and learning about other opportunities outside of the classroom are a few ways to give yourself the best chance at succeeding at your new school.

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