The big move: students' thoughts on transferring

November 3, 2014

What happens when students in the midst of their postsecondary studies change their minds on what they want to do with their life and, more pertinently, with their academic career? The costs, paperwork, and time requirements of a transfer look different from the student’s point of view than that of administration.

To get a closer look, we asked about 1,250 members of our StudentVu Panel about their knowledge, opinions, and experiences related to transferring. Here’s what we found out.

Why students transfer

Reasons students gave for transferringThings change, and students’ minds are no exception. Students who transferred between programs or institutions did so primarily because they changed their mind about their program, had a change in their personal circumstances, or were dissatisfied with their original institution.

However, the transfer process was unfamiliar to many students. About two-thirds agreed that they believed transferring would cost them more in the long run than staying at their original institution or program, and about half said that they thought it would be difficult to transfer between schools.

Credit transfers: You (can) take it with you

Of those students who had transferred, two-thirds applied to transfer completed credits to their new system. They primarily turned to counselors, faculty or instructors, or other students to get information about the credit-transfer process.

Nearly half of those who did not apply to transfer said that their credits were not eligible. Just over one-tenth stated that they didn’t know they could transfer their credits.

Mind the (Communications) Gap

Students who had previously gone through the credit experience reported feeling frustrated with uncommunicative administration and obscure processes. When asked to name the most difficult part about applying to transfer credits, students reported problems such as “getting a clear picture of how the process works” and dealing with “complicated online forms [with] absolutely no resources to help fill them.” Students who didn't experience any difficulties with the credit transfer process often commented on their specific school’s quick communication and clear information.


Transferring between institutions or between programs is still something of a mystery to most students. They are looking for an easily understood, systematic way to transfer between programs and between schools.

Institutions that have satisfied transfer students typically offered a clear set of instructions, accessible information, and streamlined communications processes. Following their example will make for much happier students. Want to learn more? Check out our survey summary, or get in touch with us today.