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Many applicants see the Common Application transfer essay in much the same way they see the regular Common Application essay — an opportunity to wow the admissions officers, impress them with the fascinating things you’ve done, giving them every reason in the world to accept you. And while these things are important and necessary, it isn’t all you should aspire to accomplish with it. Here are three things you absolutely, positively must do in your transfer essay to get yourself out of your current college or university and into your new one.

1) CLEARLY ARTICULATE WHY YOU WISH TO TRANSFER SCHOOLS – Be specific where did the school you attend falls short. It’s not enough just to say you didn’t like the campus or the other students. That’s too easy an excuse. Did you decide to change your major? Maybe when you were accepted there you had one idea about what you wanted from your education and now that you’re a year older, you want something else. Maybe the culture of the school wasn’t a good fit. Whatever the reason is, be clear and concise.

2) NEVER, EVER, SPEAK NEGATIVELY ABOUT YOUR OLD SCHOOL! – Look at it like this – you’re trying to impress your new boyfriend/girlfriend and the last thing you want to do is bad-mouth your ex. This will leave a bad taste in the admissions counselor’s mouth. Don’t be mean. Don’t be vindictive. Don’t be anything other than diplomatic. The tone should be, “it just didn’t work out.”

3) LOOK AHEAD – Once you have adequately explained why you wish to transfer, let them know what you wish to get our of your new school. Since you can’t be “school specific” this is where you have to carefully and thoughtfully express what you want now out of your education.

I, myself actually enjoy working with applicats on this essay even more than the regular undergraduate Common Application essay. Generally, a freshman or sophomore in college has a better idea who they are and what they want than a high school senior does. And if worded carefully, you have the opportunity to make a better impression with the admission counselor. Furthermore, this essay carries more weight. So take your time with it. And as always, place yourself in the shoes of the admissions counselor and ask yourself, “why should we admit this person?” And if you answer that question correctly, there is no way they won’t accept you.