The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has a list of almost 400 colleges that have stated they are test optional for the Fall of 2021, affirming that students will not be penalized for the absence of a standardized test score for admission. Click here for more information.
When you have had a semester or more of college life and decide to transfer to another college, the essay is often one of the most important components of your application. The transfer essay needs to be more focused on what you, as the student, are looking for from a different educational setting than what you have already experienced. The essay has to directly address the prompt:
You need to give at least 3 examples of why you want to transfer, preferably one addressing issues in your major field(s). You should also give 3 specific goals and objectives of what you hope to accomplish at the new institution. State what you want to accomplish at college in a specific way and why you feel you can't accomplish it where you are currently enrolled. You want to convey what you bring to the table.
Think about the schools you want to go to. Look at the “ambiance” and “atmosphere” of the colleges you're applying to and how they would significantly differ from where you are now. Research what they're known for, what they highlight that makes them special or unique, and try and incorporate these into your essay.
As a transfer student you have to show that you're not flighty and noncommittal, or just unhappy and wanting to run away. You need to relay clear reasons why you want to leave your school and why you want to go to the prospective schools. Omit excessive examples from high school.
Overall, when writing your transfer essay, stick to the prompt and be specific. Remain upbeat but convey your message effectively. Be polite and respectful but honest and not self-aggrandizing. You need to focus on telling your story in a clear, strong way. Demonstrate to the reader all you have to offer and how your ideas about your career path have evolved, including your interests and goals, and where you see yourself career-wise in the future. They are learning about your character as well as your interests. Think about the essay like an interview and a resume by addressing the following questions:
You want to be specific in what you've done in college so far. What activism/social justice causes, artistic endeavors, scientific research, academic or social clubs have you been involved in? What professionals or organizations have you worked with, what was your role and what did you gain from the experiences? Explain how you are clearer now about what you want to study and focus on than you were when you applied from high school.
Your essay should be a personal story and not sound like a sales pitch or a TV commercial for the college. Explain as much as possible in as few words as possible about yourself and why you would do well at their schools. It should sound like a clear, concise narrative of your own college experiences, goals for the future, and what assets you bring to the school. Your essay should not focus on your unhappiness or disappointment of the moment. The college(s) you are applying to does not know you. Don't make any assumptions about what they know or 'get', so don't be casual or unclear in your descriptions. Don't spend time on extraneous or outdated issues unless they flow directly with your narrative.
Going forward in college, here are some main points to keep in mind for all good writers:
When evaluating a student’s college application, admissions officers consider a number of different factors: grades, level of coursework, standardized test scores, and more, including extracurricular activities. If you’re a high school student looking ahead to college and trying to optimize your high school career for the application process, which extracurricular activities to participate is important.
However, which activities are best for you are ultimately going to depend on your interests and goals. The most important part of choosing extracurricular activities is to find those you are genuinely passionate about, and through which you will be motivated to demonstrate true leadership and accomplishment. It is not necessary to find the most prestigious-sounding activities, or scramble to list as many on your application as possible.
Whatever extracurriculars you choose, they will demonstrate to college admissions officers that you’re capable of time management, self-motivation, taking responsibility, teamwork and other qualities that are desirable in a potential college candidate. If you’re not sure what you like there are plenty of ways to explore and find what interests you.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore in high school, you still have time to explore and find what options are available. Look into which clubs and afterschool activities are offered at your school. Many schools offer a clubs and activities fair at the start of the school year. You can often get involved in volunteer opportunities at your house of worship, or local community centers and civic programs such as the Police Explorers Club or EMS. There are other local and national organizations special interest programs such as Odyssey of the Mind, International Mathematical Olympiad, Model U.N. and local Youth Film Festivals or Art Fairs that are among many options available. Don’t be afraid to try different things.
If you have more specific career goals in mind or you’re still looking to build a portfolio of extracurriculars into your junior or senior years of high school, you should probably look for activities involving the things you already know you like. If you’re passionate about writing or literature, try submitting stories or poems for publication, or take a position on the student newspaper. If your interests and goals are more science or technology-oriented, consider tutoring or participating in honors societies, or other academic groups .Aspiring business majors could spearhead a volunteer drive, or find leadership-oriented activities. Summer programs or internships could also be valuable extracurriculars. Don’t forget the value of after school part-time jobs that can demonstrate responsibility, self-reliance and maturity.
Remember, quality and accomplishment are more important than quantity. One or two extracurricular activities through which you truly show commitment and leadership will be far more valuable on a college application than ten activities for which you did little more than show up for attendance. It’s also important not to overburden yourself. There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s already hard enough for any high school student to juggle course work, family and social lives, and a regular sleep schedule. Do what you love, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
If you’re interested in receiving custom, one-on-one guidance through every step of the college application process, the admissions consultants at College Docs offer Personalized College Action Plans including help with essays, applications, SATs and ACTs, extracurricular choices, and more. With over 25 years working with high school students and professional membership in groups like IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) and the New England Association for College Admission Counseling (NEACAC), the team at College Docs help you find the right college and path for you. Contact College Docs today to learn more.
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