Students who start their postsecondary experience at a community college may plan on transferring to a four-year institution after their second year to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Other students may start at a school and become disappointed when they realize that their college experience is less than ideal, prompting a transfer. These students may either decide to transfer to a program of a similar length or switch to a different type of program. Transferring is rarely an easy process, but dedicated students who work with an admissions representative will find that it is possible.

There are any number of reasons why you might decide you’d be happier at a different institution. Perhaps your intended major has changed and the new one isn’t offered at your current school, or your mental health is suffering and there are few resources to help you manage it. Transferring is a hard process, so try to improve your circumstances at your current school first, before beginning your college search over again.

The type of transfer student you are depends on what type of institution you currently attend and the type of institution you hope to attend. There are three distinct types of transfer: vertical (two-year to four-year), reverse (four-year to two-year or less-than-two-year), and lateral (two-year to two-year or four-year to four-year). Vertical transfers are likely to have the most luck when trying to transfer their credits between institutions, but perseverance may pay off for reverse and lateral transfer students too.

Not all schools have programs aimed at transfer students, and it's possible that the school you're attempting to transfer to won't accept most or all of your college credits. If you don't do your research beforehand, you could end up having to retake most of your classes once you arrive at your new college. Don’t rush into a transfer if you’re not positive that the logistics will work out.

When you transfer, it can be overwhelming enough to find and get accepted to a new institution, but your financial aid package may also change. Because tuition rates differ between schools, the amount of financial need that you have may change drastically. This can affect your ability to qualify for grants, work-study, and loans and could raise your out-of-pocket costs. If you transfer in the middle of the year, you may have to partially repay your award. Consider what might change before blindly accepting an offer.

Keep up your grades, stay friendly with your professors, and get involved with extracurriculars. Don’t slack off and become a hermit just because you aren’t planning on staying at your current school. You still need to submit a competitive application and be accepted to your transfer school; good grades and recommendations from teachers who know you well are a must.