How to write an effective transfer application essay

college admissions personal statements transfer
By Bex

After completing a semester or more at one university, you’ve decided to apply elsewhere as a transfer student. Maybe you earned an associate’s degree at a community college, and now you’re ready for more. Or maybe the university you chose for your freshman year didn’t live up to your expectations. Regardless of your motivations, you’ll probably need to write an essay for each of the schools you’re considering.

Let’s explore the elements of a strong transfer application essay!

The Essay Prompts

While the wording may differ from school to school, transfer essay prompts are similar in theme. Here are some examples:

  • Tell us in 500 to 750 words why you wish to transfer from your current or most recent institution. Why are you interested in Yale, and how do you think that being here would be a great next step in your education?
  • Boston University welcomes hundreds of transfer students to campus each year. We want to learn more about you and your reasons for transferring, in particular what you hope to accomplish at Boston University. (600 words max.)
  • Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve [at Brandeis]. (650 words max.)

These prompts all ask you to explain why you’re transferring schools (your past and present) and what you hope to accomplish at your new school (your future).

Your Past and Present

When you write your transfer essay, be careful not to badmouth your current or previous school. Instead, try putting a positive spin on your decision by focusing on what you’ve learned about yourself and your needs as a student.

Maybe you’ve realized you want to conduct independent research, but you can’t find the right faculty mentor. Or perhaps you’ve discovered a new intellectual interest that your current school doesn’t support. Jot down any ideas that come to mind!

When you feel ready to write this section of your essay, you can keep it pretty short. Briefly share why you chose to attend your current or most recent institution, describe what you’ve realized about your educational needs and goals, and explain why you’re looking to transfer.

Your Future

We’ve covered why you’re transferring… now, it’s important to show the admissions reader why you want to transfer to their school specifically. This will make up the majority of your essay, so make sure you do your research so you can connect your academic and personal goals to the school’s unique offerings.

Start by listing out your goals for the remainder of your college experience. How do you hope to deepen your understanding of a particular topic or field? If you have concrete career goals, what skills do you need to gain in order to succeed beyond college?

Next, match each of these goals to a particular opportunity at the school. The nitty-gritty information won’t be on the college’s home page, so see if your major or department has its own website. There, you can learn more about the curriculum requirements and opportunities within your particular major or academic focus. Which opportunities will you pursue? How do these opportunities align with your educational goals? What appeals to you about the way classes are run?

You can also include one or two personal goals. How will you challenge yourself in the coming years? How do you hope to grow as a person? Visit the student center website to find a club directory. Which student organizations will you join? How will joining these organizations help you enact your values? Check out the student newspaper. How do current students engage with the surrounding community? How do their actions inspire you?

Successful Essays

The most successful transfer application essays show the admissions reader how a student will enrich their school’s community. But you don’t need to be a creative visionary or a brilliant leader to contribute. Simply by engaging with a school’s resources and community, you’ll help further your peers’ education. So, the more specific you are about your goals, the easier it will be for the admissions reader to envision you at their school!


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