8 Tips for Improving Transfer Student Enrollment

3 min read

Julia Sachs

Transfer students have unique needs that require tailored services. This is important because 38% of college-bound adolescents will transfer colleges, so appealing to the population can help boost your intake numbers. 

Appealing to transfer students can be a great way to boost enrollment, but their needs must be looked at as an individual demographic rather than as the same as the incoming body of undergraduate students. 

Here are eight tips on how your institution could attract more transfers at no or little cost:

1. Know where your transfer students are coming from

Around 30 percent of community college students in the US transfer from a two-year general education program into a four-year bachelor's. A large number of transfer students also come from military education programs.

Data suggests students who transfer to the top ranking universities have transferred from another four-year institution, with only five percent enrolling from community colleges. Because community college represents financial access to higher education for so many, widening acceptance of incoming students from two-year institutions into top colleges can help make these institutions more approachable to lower-income demographics.

 2. Offer easy credit transfers

A challenge transfer students may face is dealing with courses and credits that do not transfer. Many state universities work with local community colleges to streamline transfer credits, but some students are still left behind if not all of their credits are accepted.

Find out where your transfer students are coming from and work with those institutions to discover ways to streamline credit transfers. For many students, being able to transfer general education credits into a four-year program can eliminate some of the cost of a degree.

The University of Maryland offers a list of global institutions that accept transfer students and transfer credits. 

3. Scholarships

Incoming transfer students may have chosen to transfer for financial reasons, and will likely be looking for additional financial support after they arrive. 

Offer dedicated scholarship programs for transfers to cut the cost of their education as much as possible. This will help make your institution more inclusive and encourage students to pursue higher education opportunities even if it may be financially out of reach.

4. Services

Consider creating dedicated services for transfer students to turn to, similar to how international and post-graduate students.

5. Increase marketing efforts to transfer students 

Targeted marketing can funnel traffic from social media onto transfer resources on your website. Broad marketing efforts can help establish brand recognition, but targeted marketing is most effective in helping students ultimately make a decision on where to apply and, hopefully, enroll.

6. Work with local community colleges

Local community colleges and military programs are often ready to transfer students into nearby four-year institutions. High transfer and bachelor completion rates help community colleges statistics, so these institutions will likely want to work together to make the transfer process easier. 

7. Offer micro-degree programs 

Micro or nano degree programs are becoming increasingly popular in fields like software engineering and technology. Nano degrees are a popular choice among students, especially those who have completed a two-year degree program elsewhere - like transfer students. These programs offer more education in a specialized field, but enter that field as a graduate in a matter of months rather than a matter of years.

8. Offer transfer student clubs 

Finally, transfer students can often acclimatize to their new campus better if they have a strong support system that understands what they’re going through. Encourage students to form clubs with other transfer students or offer alumni networking opportunities for graduates that once transferred.

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