Ok, so you don't like the college or university you're attending and want to find greener pastures elsewhere. This is a perfectly normal feeling, and since you're probably burying yourself into debt to pay for college you should be happy wherever you are. While it does boil down to your satisfaction, there are still good and bad reasons for wanting to transfer. Some of the good reasons are:
Of course, there are bad reasons as well:
- Your social life sucks at your current college. Transferring is not a magic bullet that will cure all your social ills. You need to make an honest effort by doing things like joining clubs and socializing with your floormates if you live in a dorm. After that, you may want to transfer if you're in a small college and you don't find the student body to your liking.
- You hate the living conditions at the school. The problems with living in a dormitory are already pretty well covered. There are almost always alternate living arrangements around your college that are usually cheaper to boot.
If you have good reasons for transferring, now would be a very good time to make sure that the university you wish to go to is the right choice for you. Admissions doesn't give the usual crapola that they give to freshmen to transfer students. Make sure you've visited the campus and most importantly talked to the people in your major. They'll be the ones that are most honest about the college and have the most experience. Plus, you'll be able to get a good idea of what the people in your major are like -- do you really want to be stuck with unfriendly people for the rest of your undergrad education? Seeing if you can cross register at that university for your next semester wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Once you've made sure of your choice, you should begin planning for the process. If you're going to wait a semester or two before transferring, you will want to make sure the classes you take have equivalents at the university you're planning on attending. General classes are usually your best bet, and you should call an admissions counselor at your school to make sure the more unique credits will transfer. You should also ensure that you get good grades in these classes, as many schools will force you to retake classes that you received a C or lower. At this point you may wish to take a semester or two at a community college if you can't get in right away. These are a good deal economically, and many colleges have transfer agreements with these schools. However, you need to be aware that these places can be painfully bureaucratic.
You should check with a transfer counselor about procedures and requirements as early as possible. Doing it early ensures that spaces don't get filled up, and doing it in order prevents things like having your transcripts thrown away if they get them before your application. Make sure you can arrange off-campus living arrangements if need be, as many colleges consider transfer students last in allocating dorms. Nearly all students will have to work out new financial aid plans, and you may need to fill out aid forms such as the FAFSA again. Once you get accepted and your transcripts get sent in, your new school should give you an official evaluation of what does and doesn't transfer. You may feel depressed as possibly many credits don't transfer at all and you've wasted thousands of dollars. Shit happens, but don't panic. If their reasons seem ludicrous, try to appeal to someone. While it's in their advantage for as little to transfer as possible, they would rather not have you pack up for somewhere else.
Registering is the easy part. Go see a counselor and have them explain or direct you to your new major requirements. Finally, you'll need to adjust yourself to the new school as many schools report a lowering in GPA for a transfer student. For example, the average drop at the University of Pittsburgh is about .5 for the first semester. To help combat this you may want to familiarize yourself with tutoring facilities and the computer labs. At this point, you can sit back and start enjoying your new school. Failing that, you can always transfer again.
ignorans points out two good points: illness is another good reason to transfer and you may run into further problems by having to switch over scholarships and grants. Caveat Emptor.