Students transfer between colleges every year for a variety of valid (and not so valid) reasons.

Transferring can be a great idea if you're sure that the new school offers something your current school lacks. That said, the college transfer process is a big hassle, and competition for open spots can be fierce. So if you're just hoping to score a bigger dorm room or trade up on your significant other, best to stay put.

Why Transfer?

One excellent reason to transfer is because you are unhappy. You don't have to settle for four years of misery. With such a wide variety of schools available, you are bound to find one that will meet your academic and social expectations.

Another reason to transfer is if your current school does not have a strong program in your area of interest. If you've decided to be a doctor and your college has a weak pre-med program, don't be afraid to look elsewhere.

Some students who are rejected from their first-choice school attend another school with the intention of transferring. Others begin their education at a two-year college but ultimately want a four-year degree.

However, if your goal is simply to enroll in a college with a bigger name, you might want to reconsider. The difference in recognition between your old school and your new one may not justify the hassle of transferring.

Whatever reason you have, do your research. Pay a visit to the campus of your prospective school and be sure to sit in on the specific classes that interest you. You don't want to find yourself transferring…again.

Plan Your College Transfer

Transferring to another college is not like applying to college the first time. Your high school transcript and test scores will take a back seat to your college transcript. So earn strong grades in college if you hope to transfer (some schools will still want to see your SAT or ACT scores as well).

Colleges have different policies for transfer students but typically expect you to have acquired a minimum of credits. You'll have a harder time transferring if you've completed more than two years of study, even if you abandon some of the credit you've accrued.

Of course, transferring can impact your intended graduation date or study abroad plans. Be aware of your prospective transfer school's rules. Not all classes/credits are transferable and some schools won't accept credit from a class if you earned below a C.

Taking Action

Get recommendations from your college professors. High school recommendations are beneficial, but the opinion of someone who has seen you handle college coursework will hold more weight. Seek out professors who have taken a shine to you (especially ones within your academic discipline). Don't be afraid that they'll be unhappy with your decision to leave; ultimately, educators want their students to be content. If a professor agrees to your request, let him or her know how much it means to you. A thank-you note goes a long way towards making an overworked academic feel appreciated.

Be mindful of deadlines. Deadlines vary from school to school, though you'll probably need to send in an application by March or April if you're hoping to transfer in the fall.

Financial Considerations

Typically, transfer students are eligible for less scholarship funds, though some schools set aside money specifically for transfer students. Be sure to ask your prospective schools about their financial aid policies.