More than one third of all college students in the United States transfer before earning their degree. Among those who do transfer, almost half — 44 percent — switch schools more than once, according to a 2015 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Although at least 1.3 million college students transfer each year, there have been few resources to help guide them through the process. But that has now changed with the publication of The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer: From Surviving to Thriving, by Lucia D. Tyler and Susan E. Henninger.transferbooksmallclass
Tyler, a college admissions counselor in Ithaca, N.Y., decided to write the book after she was counseling college students who wanted to transfer back in 2007. "There were hardly any guides available, and what was available was about the process of transferring from a community college to a four-year college," Tyler says.
Over the a five-year period, Tyler and Henninger, an Ithaca freelance writer, interviewed more than 100 former transfer students, parents, and college administrators about their experiences with the transfer process. What they found was that in some cases, students can take steps to adjust to their first college, while in other cases, it is better if they start fresh at a new school.

Problems That May Not Lead to Transfer
One problem that often leads students to think about transferring is roommate incompatibility. Some students will find themselves "sexiled" from their dorm rooms, or made unwelcome because their roommate has invited a boyfriend or girlfriend to move in.

"That can sometimes be fixed, or it can lead to some real problems," Tyler says. "If it goes on too long, the student becomes depressed and doesn't go to classes."
Students who find themselves in that situation should contact the resident advisor and the dean of resident life at the college to work out a solution to the problem, Tyler says. And for students who are not getting along with their roommates for other reasons, they can always request a new roommate for the next semester.

Other issues that can be dealt without changing schools include not being able to play on a college athletic team (students can join an intramural sport team), not finding friends (students can join clubs on campus to meet people), and being unhappy with their major (students can try courses in a different discipline).

Issues That May Cause College Transfer
Yet there are certain issues that are better dealt with by temporarily leaving school, enrolling in a gap program, or transferring to a more compatible college. If students discover they have a mental health issue, for example, such as depression, they may need to undergo therapy in their home town before they are able to handle the rigors of college life.

Students may also find that the culture at their college is not a good fit, because of a lack of racial and religious diversity or because of intolerance toward LGBTQ students. Another clash may stem from moving from one part of the country to another that has a different set of cultural norms.
"The biggest differences are between the coastal communities and places in the Deep South," Tyler says. "Southern communities have maintained a lot of cultural differences that aren't like the Northeast."

The Transfer Process
Once students decide to transfer, they should keep their grades up and stay involved on campus while submitting applications to new schools. Tyler highly recommends students visit the colleges they are interested in transferring to because that is the only way to get a full picture of the campus and student body.

Unlike the application process for high school seniors, prospective transfer students should select a small number of colleges to apply to. While counselors advise prospective freshmen to apply to eight to 12 schools, students who want to transfer should apply to at least three.

As part of the application process, students should research how many of their courses will transfer for credit at other schools. That information will help determine the total cost of transferring. On average, students may lose between 10 and 15 credits, Tyler says.

"People do not look at the financial piece of transferring," Tyler says. "It may be a lower sticker price, but what about the scholarships you may be leaving behind and the credit transfer?"
To help students decide whether to transfer colleges, Tyler recommends they create a list of pros and cons, comparing their current college to the one they would like to transfer to.
"Go and visit that school and score it," she says. "The pitfall is students may think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, the other side of the fence may not be so attractive once you are living there if you haven't done your research."

The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer: From Surviving to Thriving is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Target.