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Unveiling the pros and cons of transferring colleges

09 Sep, 2023
Unveiling the pros and cons of transferring colleges

Transferring colleges in the US can be an excellent way to further your education and get the most from your college experience.

From attending a more prestigious university than your current school, to gaining better access to resources or more suitable majors, there are numerous benefits associated with transferring between institutions.

In this article, we look in more detail at both the advantages and disadvantages, and explore how to make transferring a reality.

Table of Contents

Pros of Transferring Colleges

Cons of Transferring Colleges

Pros of Transferring Colleges

The flexibility of US higher education and it’s in-built transfer system means that students don’t have to decide in Year 1 where they’ll graduate from.

They can take the time to settle into university life, establish what suits them best in terms of both living and learning environments, and of course what their ultimate goal is academically.

For millions, the transfer system is the key which unlocks graduation from their dream university.

Here, we look at some of the many advantages of transferring in more detail.

A graphic listing the most important benefits of transferring colleges.

Pro #1: You can advance to a college with a stronger academic reputation

There's no doubt that certain colleges and universities hold more prestige than others and therefore tend to offer more distinguished faculty, better resources, and of course as a result, enhanced career prospects.

Some students enter college with a plan to elevate their GPA for one or two years, or work on getting more involved in extracurricular activities, before applying to transfer to a more prestigious school to finish their degree program.

Often, with the right support, they stand a far better chance of being accepted as a transfer student than they would have the first time round.

With Kings Guaranteed Outcome programs, international students are able to acclimate to US university life at one of our partner universities, all of which offer an ideal environment for those students new to American university life.

With the support of our dedicated on-campus support teams, they are then able to take advantage of the US transfer system by transferring schools after 1 or 2 years and graduating from a Top 50 or Top 100 university.

After having tried unsuccessfully to apply for top universities in the US from his home country of Mexico, Luis Enrique Chavez Rubin joined the Kings Guaranteed Outcome program in California before being accepted to major in Mechanical Engineering at USC (currently ranked #25 in the US).

Speaking about his experience, he commented:


"I always wanted to go to college in the US so I did a lot of research and then applied to seven schools, all extremely competitive. At the time I didn't get in and by then I had missed the deadline to apply to alternative schools. What happened to me, happened to a lot of my friends: they applied to different schools, didn't get in and ended up having to stay home as they couldn't find anything.

So I found the Kings program in an Expo back in Mexico City and I saw that Kings had already placed students at the schools I had applied to.

Here, I was helped choose the courses I would need to transfer to specific schools, they helped me identify the right universities for what I was looking for, corrected my essays and basically Kings help you present the best version of yourself and to get the things you need to go where you want to go."

Pro #2: You may be able to reach your dream school

We all have that one university that we've always dreamed of attending, and the transfer process can give you a second chance to make it happen.

Whilst some students' ‘dream school’ might be a university that is considered top academically for their chosen field of study, for others it relates more to aligning with their goals and values.

The emotional and academic satisfaction that comes from being in the right educational environment is paramount to ensuring future success, which explains why in 2020-21 about 2.1 million college students transferred between institutions. (Forbes)

Pro #3: You can have a fresh start and new opportunities

The potential for a fresh start and new opportunities is one of the primary advantages of transferring to a different college.

Transferring to a new school can open doors to new experiences, new friends and connections and resources that you might not have otherwise had access to.

Additionally, by shaking things up and starting over at a new school, you may find renewed motivation and focus, which can propel you to new heights in your academic and personal pursuits.

Ultimately, by transferring colleges and being a new student again you’ll be opening yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities.

Pro #4: It can be character-building

Transferring colleges can be a daunting task for any student, but it can also be an opportunity for personal growth that will build invaluable lifelong skills.

No matter what your main reason for transferring, there’s no doubt that it requires resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills to navigate the system, choose the right major, adjust to a new environment and make connections.

By the time you finish your undergraduate degree, these skills will have been extensively developed, setting you up for success in the next stage of your life, and beyond.

Pro #5: You may be able complete a 4-year degree with less financial outlay

While for some students transferring represents an opportunity to improve academic performance or post-graduation employment prospects, for others it can be driven primarily by cost.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Completing a two year associate degree at a community college, for example, can offer the chance to earn degree credits at a more affordable institute, before finishing up at a four-year university that may charge higher tuition fees, or involves paying for accommodation if you move away from home.

For international students at Kings, the Guaranteed Outcome programs offer the chance to complete a full bachelor’s degree in four years, without the need for an extra pre-sessional year. This, in turn, keeps the overall cost of studying lower than with some other providers.

Pro #6: You'll have the chance to experience a new environment

As such as vast and varied nation, locations can differ hugely in the USA. For some students, particularly international students, university transfer offers a chance to experience living and studying in two totally different places.

Clearly, there are differences in weather - California and Massachusetts for example represent two wildly different climates, but there are also differences in culture, diversity and landscapes.

Photo by Will Barkoff on Unsplash

Equally, while some universities are located in big, bustling cities, others are found in much smaller college towns (such as Ithaca, pictured above). It can be good to experience both, or use university transfer to complete your degree somewhere where you may feel more comfortable than where you initially started.

Cons of Transferring Colleges

While transferring may well be the right decision for you, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

There are many advantages associated with transferring colleges, however there are also some drawbacks - both personal and academic in nature - that any potential transfer student should consider before making a move.

Here, we explore some of the disadvantages in more detail.

A graphic listing the key disadvantages of transferring colleges.

Con #1: Attained credits may not transfer

Some colleges may ask for high-school transcripts, test scores, or high-school GPA, but generally, the primary emphasis is on college credits.

Every college has a different policy for transfer students regarding credit requirements, so it's important to research the transfer credit policies of potential colleges thoroughly as it’s not always possible to transfer over all college credits.

The earlier you decide to transfer, the better. You should liaise with academic advisors and admissions counselors at both schools as soon as possible to ensure you are taking courses that will be accepted at the school to which you hope to transfer.

Throughout your freshman year at Kings, our dedicated student advisors help you understand firstly, what potential transfer schools are realistically attainable, and second, what courses will be best for you to take in order to make the process as smooth as possible.

Hui Shan Tan (Isabel) did the first two years of her degree with us. She applied to transfer to nine schools and was accepted by seven of them, including University of Michigan (#28) and Pepperdine University (#46), to study Communications.

Speaking about her experience, she commented:


"Kings helped me a lot in choosing what subjects I needed to take for transfer. A lot of students don't know what subjects can have their credits transferred. I would not have known the process of how to transfer either. I am not American."

Con #2: Readjusting to new surroundings can be hard

Moving to a new college, especially if it's your dream school, can be an exciting opportunity to start afresh and pursue your academic interests to the fullest. However, readjusting to new surroundings can be challenging, especially in the final years of pursuing an undergraduate degree, where students need to balance academic work with social life.

It is crucial for transfer students to be proactive in meeting new people, networking, joining clubs and groups, all while staying focused on their academic goals.

But with a little motivation and perseverance, transfer students can thrive at their new academic home and reap the benefits of attending a top university.

Con #3: The process can be time-consuming

One downside of transferring is the sometimes arduous process that it involves, which is usually alongside existing study.

Photo by on Unsplash

Transferring can take a fair bit of preparation, from researching possible new schools (ideally including an in-person visit to potential universities), and their policies regarding credit transfer, to actually completing the application process.

Not only will you need to submit your college transcript, but you’ll most likely need to interview with an admissions officer, write an essay, ask for letters of recommendations from current professors and even submit your SAT or ACT scores and high school transcripts.

Con #4: It may impact scholarships and financial aid

Another disadvantage of transferring colleges is the possibility of losing out on scholarship and financial aid options. Some transfer students, for example, are indebted to their previous school for scholarships that they received before making the decision to transfer to another college or university.

However, it is possible to offset costs by transferring from a private institution to a state-funded college, since public universities are generally less expensive.

Con #5: It may take longer to graduate

It’s not impossible for transfer students to graduate “on time", but sometimes they may need an extra semester or two to graduate if they have lost some of their credits from a previous college.

For most students this isn't the end of the world, but it will have a financial implication as it means extra tuition and accommodation costs so is definitely worth bearing in mind.

Again, carefully researching potential transfer schools is key in ensuring as many of your current credits can transfer over with you as possible to avoid possible delays in graduating.

Con #6: There is no guarantee of improving your current scenario

Whilst for many students who decide to transfer from their current college, the step proves to be entirely positive and exactly what they had hoped, for others this may not be the case.

Often, however, this is a result of poor reasons for transferring.

Issues such as not getting along with a roommate, or struggling to keep up in classes, for example, are not generally good reasons for transferring as they may prove to repeat themselves no matter which college you are at.

Make sure that your reason for transfer is focused on long-term goals rather than short term fixes, which may not prove successful and will have brought about a lot of upheaval for no real benefit.

Need Help on Your Transfer Journey?

At Kings, we offer a range of programs designed to help international students gain access to the very best US universities and still graduate in 4 years.

Through our Guaranteed Outcome programs, students begin a bachelor’s degree at one of our partner universities in Boston, New York, California, Oregon and Wisconsin.

They are supported extensively by our specialist on-campus teams as they adapt to US college life. They learn more about the US education system, improve their GPA, and gain a host of new skills and experiences.

After 2 years they are then able to transfer to a Top 50 or Top 100 university, from where they will graduate. Our expert advisors will guide each and every student through the entire transfer process from target university identification, course selection to transfer university applications.

Kings advisors are passionate about securing the best possible acceptances for our students, which is why so many progress to the very best US universities.

Find out more here

If you would like to receive more detailed information about Kings and our university pathway programs, please get in touch with us at

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