Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Jenna Santacroce, 2019-2020 International Vice President for Division 1.
What’s next? If, like me, you’re preparing to transfer to another institution, you may be feeling a little nervous. I’ll be the first to admit that choosing a college to transfer to isn’t an easy task — these significant decisions we’re making now will influence the rest of our lives. There’s lots to consider when deciding on a new school: Is it the right one for me? How will I afford it? Will I make new friends?
Luckily, Phi Theta Kappa has strong relationships with more than 800 schools that acknowledge these concerns and provide support for transfer students. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with seven transfer schools who answered some of our most pressing questions. See below for what I found to be the top 10 tidbits for transfer students from our conversations with Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Texas at Arlington, Mississippi College, University of Florida Online, and The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).
1. What is a transfer-friendly institution?
What makes an institution transfer-friendly is how it supports its transfer students. Institutions that value transfers before the student is admitted, while the student is enrolled, and as the student graduates are crucial to transfer success. These colleges often have specific transfer counselors, transfer student housing, transfer-friendly student organizations, honors programming for transfer students, and much more. Look for the colleges that recognize and value you for the high-caliber student you are.
2. How do I qualify for scholarships?
Scholarship eligibility varies by school; however, most schools check for similar qualifications in incoming transfer students. Generally, to be eligible for transfer scholarships, institutions require you to meet a certain grade point average, have enough transferable hours, and show proof of your PTK membership either by submitting the PDF of your membership certificate or including it on your transcript. Often, schools will offer a larger scholarship package for students with higher GPAs.
If you’re an out-of-state student, look for non-resident scholarship packages to help cover the out-of-state tuition fee. Depending on the school, these scholarships can either be automatic or competitive — meaning you may be awarded these scholarships solely because you are a PTK member, or you may have to complete and submit an application for a committee to judge. Regardless, keep in mind whether these scholarships are stackable. Stackable scholarships allow you to combine multiple scholarship packages to fund your education, while non-stackable do not.
3. Will my credits transfer, and how long will it take to complete my degree?
While the process varies at each school, you are likely to meet with an academic advisor (potentially before your first term of enrollment, depending on which school you choose) to evaluate your credits, discuss which classes will transfer to your four-year institution, and establish your degree completion plan. With the help of your academic advisor, you will be able to gauge what to expect each semester and how long it will take to complete your degree.
4. Will I fit in?
An easy way to blend with students at a new school is to connect with other transfer students. When considering a college, look into how many transfer students the school admits, and maybe even where these students are transferring from. Also, don’t forget to tour the campus first, either physically or virtually. Getting a feel for the campus is essential. Does it feel like home?
5. Will I thrive?
Before adding any school to the equation, try to determine what you’re looking to get out of your transfer experience. Do you care most about academics? Internships? Career opportunities? Perhaps you value campus life, fellowship activities, and athletics too, or maybe you’re an online student and looking for flexibility in semester start times. After answering these questions, try to pair your expectations with the best-fitting school. Admissions counselors have observed that while there are many ways to succeed at your transfer institution, the students who typically thrive most are the ones who pair academics with involvement. Make sure the school has both an academic program and extracurricular opportunities you’re interested in.
6. What other resources does the college offer?
These seven schools offer a wealth of additional resources for their students to take advantage of. Some of the most useful of these resources include career connection centers that host internship and career fairs, organize mock practice interviews, and connect students with career mentors. Other valuable resources include research, tutoring, and health centers. Also, study abroad opportunities are available for any student willing to take on the adventure.
7. Is admission competitive?
Colleges know that PTK members are focused, motivated students. Because we’ve excelled while taking college classes, we have proven ourselves to be high-caliber students. These seven schools acknowledge our success, and most accept transfer students who meet the GPA qualification.
8. When should I apply?
As early as possible! The process is relatively seamless for most of these seven schools, as they require your transcript, a completed application, and the application fee. Applying early will benefit you because for some schools, there are priority deadlines for scholarship consideration. Also, the earlier you are admitted, the sooner you can choose your classes. Although it is not encouraged, many of these schools will admit students up until the beginning of the semester. Also, if you need assistance covering the application fee, speak with your admissions contact and they may be able to assist you.
9. Where can I learn more about these seven schools?
Visit the schools’ websites, follow their social media accounts for more frequent reminders, or call/email the excellent admissions counselors from Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Texas at Arlington, Mississippi College, University of Florida Online, and The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).
10. Where can I learn more about other schools?
PTK Connect! PTK Connect is a gold mine for transfer students. On PTK Connect, you’ll find specific details about transfer-friendly schools, including scholarships, admissions contacts, and application expectations. What makes PTK Connect so unique in itself is that all of its posted information is specific to transfer students and will all be relevant to you. Visit connect.ptk.org, enter your PTK username and password, and browse through the site to learn more about the best transfer-friendly colleges across the country.
There are tons of students just like you and me, running through hundreds of questions and endless Internet queries in search of the right transfer school. Fortunately, we’re not in this alone! Lots of four-year institutions are actively recruiting PTK members. There are friendly admissions representatives and recruiters out there willing to help and hoping to hear from us. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.
View recordings of both Virtual College Visit webinars below, or click here to review the chat/Q&A transcripts. You can find email addresses for each panelist on the closing slides of the recorded presentations.