The College Transfer Process: Why Some Students Decide to Move

After the acceptance letter comes to their email or door, students are thrilled with excitement as they can’t stop saying the phrase “the next four years”.

However, it is found from a 2015 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that 37.2 percent of college students worldwide transfer universities, which is about 21 million students. 45 percent of those students transfer more than once in their education career.

A Chart of Transfer Students – Washington Post

According to college Xpress, there are many reasons why students decide to transfer and not all of them include a distaste for your first-year college. A few transfers leave on good terms with their college before entering the sophomore year of their new school. Some people plan before they enter their first year. There are five major reasons why one student might transfer universities.

  1. Students may want a better program for their major
  2. Some students want more of a challenge and rigor
  3. Student expenses are high
  4. School location isn’t ideal
  5. You feel like you chose the wrong school

Here are a few SAS alumni student perspectives of why they decided to transfer universities.

Zoe Epstein – Syracuse University to Tulane University

Zoe Epstein
Left – Zoe at Syracuse University
Right- Zoe at Tulane University

Zoe graduated from Singapore American School in 2017 and initially attended Syracuse University, but transferred into Tulane University in her sophomore year.

After a semester, a lot factors made her decide to transfer to Tulane University, which was her first choice in senior year. She expressed that “Syracuse is still a good school, but I wanted a better science-related program and the weather was brutal, so I didn’t want to stay another 3 years in the cold”.

She thinks that if the college offers the best location and major for you, transferring can be a great option since college is meant to help you find a job of your specific major after you graduate.

The transfer process for her wasn’t a challenge like the first time around, as she states that “when you reapply as a transfer, you expect what’s on the application, which makes the process a lot easier”.

Cole Derksen – Vassar College to Rice University

Cole in a Vassar T-Shirt – Source: Cole Derksen
Cole in a Rice Shirt – Source: Cole Derksen

Cole graduated from Singapore American School in 2016 and attended Vassar College, but transferred into Rice University in his sophomore year.

Cole thought he knew what college he wanted to attend: a D3 northeast liberal arts school where he committed to play volleyball. However, the vibe in that school didn’t suit him, especially the strong liberal views and brutal winters.

Although he had to leave some great friends behind, he feels at home at Rice and was able to find a new amazing group of friends.

Cole recommends that if “you didn’t think that you did well in high school, you can leverage transferring to get into a better school academically”. However, the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, and you should still attempt to enjoy your first year college.

Natalie Weinrauch – Johns Hopkins University to Duke University

Image result for JHU
Johns Hopkins University Campus – Source: Johns Hopkins University
Duke University Campus- Source: Duke University

Natalie felt like John Hopkins didn’t offer what she was looking for and wanted a school that reflected what she loved.

Although involved academically and socially at Johns Hopkins and having made tons of friends, it wasn’t as easy as she expected to transition into Duke at first. Now, she “feels at home” with a college environment that she likes as the community at Duke made her love the school.

“I think you if you are finding that your college experience isn’t what you hoped, it is definitely something you should consider.”

– Natalie Weinrauch

She thought the transfer process was cumbersome, especially attempting to balance the application and college workload at the same time. She recommends that if you are going through the process, you should “start during winter break as you can get all the documents sorted.”

The main reason of college is to offer you the best opportunities towards your specific major; therefore, students want to find a college that fits them both socially and academically. After reading about these SAS alumni stories, we should remember that college doesn’t always have to be ‘the next four’.

Author: Jensen Tan

Jensen Tan is currently a senior and it is his first year working for The Eye. He was born in Singapore, but he was raised in Melbourne, Australia. When he is not playing basketball every week, he is watching films or dreaming about living in California, or New York City, or travelling around the globe. He is an aspiring filmmaker and hopes to enter both film and journalism in the future. He can be contacted at

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