When should I start my transfer process?
ASAP! When you have an idea of what your going to pursue, you have to start looking through hundreds of colleges that have the potential to accommodate your educational and financial needs. If you don't know what you want to pursue, maybe you should start even sooner. You have to give yourself a chance to see whats out there. When you delay transfer, you risk your chance of not getting the college you want and the financial assistance you may be eligible for. I started the transfer process the summer after I graduated, despite advice to start sooner, so I was only able to apply to one. After thorough research, I applied to Sarah Lawrence, but I had to defer for a year and I didn't qualify for many scholarships that require you to be a current student. While I love Sarah Lawrence and know it will suit me, I regret not trying to apply elsewhere because I will never know what colleges would have accepted me and what they would have offered.
What are the admissions officers looking for?
The question you should ask your self is "what am I looking for in the college?" If you go in with the mentality that the college is choosing you, you may miss out on golden opportunities and sell yourself short. The qualities recruiters are looking for in students vary from college to college. However you can be sure they will look at academic achievement and your abbility to apply your knowledge to your community. A good GPA ( above 3.5 ) is great, but if your transcript shows only literature and philosophy courses you should look into a college that encourages those majors, other wise you are better off with a GPA of 3.0 with a variety of disciplines on your transcript.Volunteer work is the best way to apply your education to your community and is another reason to start early on the transfer process. If you haven't done volunteer work, you should start so you can write about it for transfer and scholarships.Also, colleges love to serve students with a story they could feel excited about being a party of; that's why the essay is so important.
What are some useful essay tips?
The essay is your chance to stand out among many applicants; it is your voice. When I started my essay, I was way, way off because I was trying to be unique, but not getting my point across. The personal essay is an opportunity to say how everything in your life led you to knock on the door of this college: experiences, failures, achievements, goals etc. My best tip for this essay is to get a lot of opinions. You will not like some of the criticism and you may not take all of it, but because you don't know who will be reading your essay it helps to get as many revisions in as possible. Professors and friends helped me a great deal.
Who do I get recommendation letters from?
Recommendation letters are very important because they solidify what you have already written about yourself and the show that you maintained a professional relationship with professors, advisors, employers, and college administration. It is also important to consider who would best represent you. I chose advisors from PTK to highlight my volunteer work, and a mentor from my area of study.
What about volunteer work?
There is an opportunity for volunteer work everywhere, but many of us feel we don't have time. Well the college looking at your application may deny you time, if you feel just a GPA will impress them. I remember in my first semester hearing " you can have two 4.0 students, how else can you stand out." I ran to PTK and started what would end up being an amazing experience and my free ride to an ivy league college!
How do I choose my school?
As I mentioned, I did thorough research because I was only applying to one college. I looked for what I knew worked for me: small classrooms, working relationships with professors, emphasis on my major, curriculum, the college's pedagogy, distance and cost. Having a son narrowed down my options a great deal. My choice ended up a very easy one, especially after visiting the college. Visit the colleges and have questions ready for students, admissions staff, and professors. Are you looking for a certain kind of life on campus? Do you like to have a lecture in a class of 500? Do you want to study abroad? Do you want diverse peers?
How many schools should I apply to?
Apply to any that you are interested in, but consider what they are offering and your needs. It doesn't hurt to apply to many colleges but don't hurt you GPA applying to places that you are not wholeheartedly interested in. Organize the colleges you are interested on a spread sheet and match it with a list of your needs and what they are offering.Transfer is a lot of work because every college needs something different; they can send you great check lists to help you with this but keep track and keep in mind you are one of many until you show them otherwise.