Transferring Schools Can Be Trouble For International Students

An undocumented UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony for UCLA "Dreamers" or Dream Act students at a church near the campus in Los Angeles, California June 15, 2012. 
Undocumented youths who came to the United States as children reacted with joy to an Obama administration rule change on Friday that could spare them deportation, although opponents slammed it as amnesty. (REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn)
(REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn)
An undocumented UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony for UCLA "Dreamers" or Dream Act students at a church near the campus in Los Angeles, California June 15, 2012. Undocumented youths who came to the United States as children reacted with joy to an Obama administration rule change on Friday that could spare them deportation, although opponents slammed it as amnesty. (REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn)

Transferring from one university to another university is common in the U.S. for a number of reasons, from students seeking better way to pursue their education, to going to school in a different location, to spending less on tuition, and more.

The same is true for international students, some of whom try to transfer to another school from either their university in the U.S. or from their home country.

The first step for international students looking to transfer is to find a school they want to transfer to. This can prove difficult.

“As an international student, it is hard to look for transfer school,” said Kyung Hwan Lee, a student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University. “Before I transferred to another school, I needed to make sure the school I wanted to attend has a good curriculum for me. But, as an international student, I had very limited information.”

Another reason it can be hard for international students to pick a new school: it’s hard to get a feel for a new campus’s culture. Each university offers not only different academic opportunities, but different communities and experiences.

American community colleges can be a good option for international students. Soung Huyn Park, a student at Santa Monica College, said that the community colleges’ tuition is cheaper, and make it easier to transfer to another school after either freshman or sophomore year.

“I want to attend community college and then have a plan to transfer to four-year university,” said Park. “Several of my friends transferred to top universities from community colleges because the community colleges have the proven academic performance.”

Once you do find a school, the next step is taking the tests needed to gain admission. Most U.S. colleges require international students to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams, which are English proficiency tests. Then, students must apply to the new school as a transfer student, which can sometimes be more selective than regular admissions.

If you successfully transfer, you may face a problem the credits earned at your previous school: they may not be accepted, especially if the school is outside the United States. One of the first people students meet with after transferring is an academic advisor, who can discuss the transfer of credits.

Minkyu Lee, a student at Georgetown University, shared his transfer credit experience. He said that it is hard for international student to transfer basic courses from another country where English isn’t the primary language. Transcripts and course descriptions from a student’s home country may not explain the course in English. In Lee’s case, he had to translate his syllabuses by himself.

Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University.

Jeonghyun Kim