Tips for transfer students: success at your new school


The modern college student has become more and more likely to transfer institutions at least once before earning a degree. For many different reasons, the traditional view of starting and finishing college at the same school isn’t quite so common anymore.

After I graduated high school, I spent one year at the University of Hawai’i, transferred to a community college, and just last fall I transferred to Western Oregon University. It can, at times, seem like a daunting task to follow through with all the necessary paperwork that ensures a successful move; but speaking from experience, I’ll tell you it’s worth the effort. More importantly, every school has advisors (or whole departments) dedicated to helping transfer students like us.

Now that my first year at WOU is coming to an end, I thought I’d share some helpful tips that I found useful during my transition.

  • tip #1:  Put in the effort to get as many of your classes from other schools transferred to your new school. I say “put in the effort” because although the registrar will look at your transcripts and transfer whatever classes they can, not all of the classes from your old school necessarily have an obvious match at your new school. You may actually have more classes that will count towards your degree, but they will require a little extra work. WOU in particular will need a course substitution form, a signature from the department head, and a description of the course you took (from the course catalog of your old school). The school doesn’t notify you that you could have more classes that transfer- this is fully your responsibility to go over what you’ve taken and what transferred over or not. Save yourself the extra money and time for repeating a course, and do the administrative stuff.
  • tip #2:  For reasons like the first tip, make sure you’re always aware of where you stand and what other classes you need for graduation. At WOU, DegreeWorks is that great tool that keeps you on track. Most importantly, DegreeWorks is what the registrars office is going to look at to determine what you’ve taken for graduation. If there are any discrepancies on DegreeWorks, make sure you head down to the registrars office right away to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it before you’re close to graduating.
  • tip #3:  Don’t be afraid to talk to lots of staff and faculty! They are all there to help you, and everyone is very friendly! If you aren’t already familiar with the registrars office, get to know it as soon as possible! If you’re a transfer student, it’s impossible to avoid this office. You can even find lots of the forms you’ll need on their website . Also look for the building of your major. Here’s a list of the advisors for each department. Get to know your advisor and meet with him/her regularly.
  • tip #4:  Always keep and eye out for all the resources out there that exist specifically for transfer students! WOU has a scholarship only for transfer students called the Provost Transfer Scholarship. There are housing opportunities for you too! Oh, and even a course available to ensure your success.


There are so many people around you who are more than willing to help you succeed, but the most important person is yourself! Moving somewhere new can be a little scary, but it’s always exciting! To make your transition a smooth one, stay ahead of the game and take care of things before they pile up. The sooner you take care of the pesky details, the sooner you can spend time having fun with your new friends!

WOU Library

By Tia Jay

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