A whole new playing field: Overcoming obstacles when transferring

It’s that time of the year again when students at Bellevue College shift their gears from completing degree prerequisites to preparing transfer applications for a four-year university, and unlike applying for admissions right after high school, transferring is an entirely different playing field where one will be competing with other hardworking community college students.

In this stressful and competitive season, a transfer student must thoroughly research their choice college and trust their own abilities to stay afloat in the hectic process. However, being prepared for the unique challenges that transferring entails can make the experience more rewarding and less frustrating.

The first step in transferring is creating the right list of colleges to apply to. At BC, prerequisites are under a DTA or direct transfer agreement, which promises that the 90 credits taken at BC for each corresponding major should transfer smoothly into any one of the Washington schools that are included in this agreement such as the University of Washington or Washington State University. As a result, unless the university is under the DTA, transfer students will find their choices more limited.

Although most students enrolled in Washington community colleges plan to transfer to an in-state university, there are some transfer students who wish to keep their options open for out-of-state universities while still applying to Washington’s colleges. Many institutions will have different prerequisites that a transfer student must complete in order to apply for their major. Depending on their school, transfer students might have to complete more classes at their community college. In addition, when looking at an out-of-state institution, it’s important to consider other factors that might make the transition more difficult compared to an in-state university such as tuition, living situations and compatibility with the new area. There are incredible benefits to leaving one’s home and attending another school in a completely different environment, however, staying in Washington could also be a better choice for one’s future.

As any transfer student may have noticed, transfer guides lack the same clarity and amount of information compared to guides for freshmen applications. Furthermore, the knowledge across many transfer guidelines can be vague. Because each college is different, it’s hard to find information that is specific enough to help transfer students with the application process. For example, there’s not much information about how a transfer student can incorporate two different colleges’ prerequisites for a major. There have been improvements with these guides, but I’ve found it to be much easier by simply asking my adviser or a representative from my college of interest.

Because transfer students are sometimes faced with researching and creating their own guidelines for the transfer process, it is important to maintain communication with an adviser and the schools of choice.

The best way to determine if one is on track is with the college’s admissions representative and academic department’s advisers. There has been mixed information that some colleges actually take note of how often their applicants contact the college’s admissions office. Although this may just be conjecture, it’s still beneficial to take the time to ask some questions to the representatives of the colleges. The application process is confusing, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Everyone wants to be successful with their applications, but it’s equally important for all transfer students to understand that rejections are common. Take the application process as a time for self-discovery, independence and risks. There is a myriad of possibilities for where one might end up going, if one keeps their options open. The critical aspect to understand about the whole process is that it doesn’t matter significantly where one decides to go. Many of us will not be accepted into our first, second or even third school of choice, but whether one attends UW, goes out of state or plans on continuing education at BC, experience and quality of education are what one makes of it.