Thinking of Transferring to Another College? The deadline’s coming up!

Tips for Writing Compelling College Transfer Essays

For those college students that have made the personal decision to transfer colleges, whether it is because of a change in desired major or differing priorities, the personal statement will undoubtedly be one of the most important factors in making an admission decision. The essay prompts for transfer students are different than those for freshman applicants, so transfer students will need to write new essays and should not reuse their freshman application essays. The information that admission readers are looking for in essays from transfer students varies greatly from that of freshman applicants. Essentially, transfer essays are less creative. Your essay should provide an insight into your hopes, dreams, life goals, and experiences that is not uncovered in your application.

• The essay prompt for the Common Application reads as follows:

“Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve. (250-650 words)

• The essay prompt for the University of California application reads as follows:

“The combined two essays below have a maximum of 1000 words and should not be less than 250 words for any one essay.

Transfer applicant prompt

What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Prompt for all applicants

Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?”

Here are some important tips to help you write great essays.

  • It is helpful to have a resume on hand for reference that lists your grades, honors, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, interests, and work experience.
  • Start early to allow time for brainstorming, editing, and receiving feedback from teachers, friends, and family.
  • In choosing a topic, be thoughtful, honest, and write in your own authentic voice.
  • Colleges are looking for transfer students that have discovered their academic interests.
  • Provide examples to support your point. Don’t just tell, one needs to demonstrate their point with examples.
  • Be positive about the college you are presently attending. Transfer applicants will need to reveal their reason for desiring to transfer. Those reasons might be a change in major, desiring a new geographic location, etc.
  • The experiences discussed in the essay should preferably be those during college and the summers after high school and beyond.
  • Colleges will want to know what experiences led you to discover your academic focus.
  • If the student is presently at a community college, admission readers will be looking to see how the student has grown and developed as a person.
  • It is advisable to write the essay draft in a word document rather than directly into the text window. This will allow the student to print a hard copy for editing and saving the copy. When moving the word document into a text window, it is necessary to check and make sure that the document has transferred exactly as it is written, with no errors or omissions.
  • Remember to check and make sure that all transfer admission requirements are met.
  • Some colleges may require additional supplemental essays and colleges that have their own online applications may have individual essay prompts. Remember to check.

A well written essay can enhance your chances of admission. On the other hand, a poorly written essay can hurt a student’s chances of admission. Along, with grades, extracurricular activities, and in some cases, letters of recommendation, the personal essay is a vital part of the admission process. Colleges are looking for students that show academic promise, focus on a career path, involvement in student life, value volunteering, and demonstrate insight and reflection. If you have questions or desire a free consultation, please feel free to email or telephone Pam Ohriner at Helping Hand College Guidance.

About the author:

Pamela Ohriner has been a college counselor for 7 years and received her MS from Stony Brook University, along with her Graduate certificate in college admissions counseling from UCLA. Pam has extensive experience working with freshman, transfer, international, and graduate school applicants. She has a proven track record of success and her students have consistently placed in top tier schools such as MIT, Cornell University, the UC schools, and USC. Pam is also a member of UCEazy Union,  a network of college admissions experts. To learn more about Pam and to schedule time with her, visit her page here


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