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Does Transferring High Schools Affect College Applications?

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Transferring high schools is likely to be stressful already, even without considering the possibility that it might make your college applications more complicated. If you’re thinking about transferring, or have already done so, and are concerned about how the change may affect your college applications, we’ve written this post to help you understand what transferring will mean for your future.


What Does it Mean to Transfer High Schools?


To transfer schools means to leave a current school and enroll in a different one.


Most transfers happen in between school years, during the summer, but depending on the school policies, students may be able to transfer during the year as well.


Why Do People Transfer High Schools?


There are various reasons for why students would transfer schools. Let’s take a look at some of the common ones.


Family relocation

If your family is moving, chances are you’ll have to transfer to a new high school, unless you’re moving just to the other side of the school district. Most of the time, transferring high schools due to family relocation is a relatively straightforward process.  


Transferring into a better academic program

If a student feels unchallenged at their current school, or if parents think the current school doesn’t offer enough opportunities for the student’s academic or extracurricular development, transferring schools can often be a solution.  


Hopes of a better social environment

When a student is not faring well in their current social scene at school, whether because of bullying, difficulties in social integration, or maladaptive behaviors due to a specific social climate, parents sometimes will transfer the student to a new school. Sometimes this helps, sometimes it doesn’t, and there are so many variables to consider so that it’s even difficult for the student and family themselves to predict how it will go. Sometimes the change of scenery and chance to “start over” is just what students need, and sometimes the adjustments necessary after the move exacerbate previous problems.


Common Questions about Transferring High Schools


Whether you’ve decided to transfer or are still considering it, you will no doubt have questions regarding the logistics of transferring and how it might impact your future. Here, we address the most common ones.


How will transferring affect my GPA?

This is an understandable concern. Different schools have different policies on how GPAs convert or transfer into its own system; you will have to do your research to find out what exactly will happen. In any case, your GPA at your previous school will remain on your transcript, and colleges will consider your grades in accordance to the marking system of the two different schools.

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Will my credits and classes transfer?

Especially if you’re in your junior or senior year, it’s important that your credits and classes transfer over to the new school so that you can move on to higher-level classes with the prerequisites that you’ve already filled. If you’re transferring between schools that have a standardized academic program, such as the AP or the IB program, have no qualms that your previous classes with transfer.


For other classes, usually there won’t be problems with transferring. If you’re transferring internationally, or from public to private schools, sometimes the new school won’t accept certain classes due to different requirements between two equatable courses at the two schools. In such cases, talk to an advisor or academic counselor at your new school to make sure that you get the credits you are due.


How might transferring affect college applications?  

If you’re transferring in junior or senior year, you might be concerned that the move may negative impact your college applications process or even your admissions.


Transferring high schools has no negative impact on your chances of college admissions itself. Students transfer all the time, and colleges understand that this is something that happens.


If your academic performance has taken a downhill turn after you’ve arrived at your new school, however, that will show up on your transcript. If there is a significant drop in your grades, this is something you need to communicate to colleges. It’s not rare, and it shouldn’t impact your overall application as long as there’s an upward curve as your grades return to at least what they were before.


How might transferring mid-year affect everything?

While the ideal is to transfer in-between school years, sometimes that’s not an option, and students have to transfer during the year. Most schools allow students to enroll at the beginning of a semester or quarter. If you are joining in the middle of a term, talk to your teachers to make sure you get caught up on what you might have missed. Transferring in the middle of the year, when everyone has already settled into their rhythms and social circles, can be difficult, so start on your forms and paperwork as early as you can.  


Tips on How to Make Transferring Go More Smoothly


Do your research.

Get to know your new school as well as you can so you know what you’ll be jumping into. Understandably, students often can’t visit the new school ahead of time, but getting familiar with the curriculum and the school “vibe” can help the adjustment process go more smoothly. Doing research ahead of time will also allow you to choose a school that has a curriculum that your previous courses will merge into as seamlessly as possible.


Get in touch with guidance counselors and academic advisors.

They are the ones who should know the ropes best, and it’s their job to help you adjust to your new school. Communicate with them regularly so you know what paperwork you need to complete, and what you might expect once you get to your new school.


Get involved at your new school.

It can be hard to join clubs or organizations in which members already know each other, but getting involved is the best way to start making friends and engage in your new school’s social life. Besides, other students who are new to the clubs probably don’t already know each other, and might be there for the same reason as you!


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Short Bio
Kimberly graduated from Smith College with a degree in English Literature. This year, she has been based in Beijing, China, where she works in the education field and rescues dogs in her free time. She will be starting her masters at Columbia University in the fall.