Advice for Parents of Transfer Students Parents & Families

According to both the Department of Education and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, nearly 60% of college students will start and end their college careers at different schools. Westmont has a high retention rate, meaning we often see our students persist and complete their college education once they’re enrolled and admitted into the institution. Relatively few students transfer out of Westmont. Instead, we inherit a larger number of transfers. We love welcoming them to Westmont and seeing them become more involved in our community.

This year, we expect dozens of transfer students, so your son or daughter has lots of company. Our transfers come from a variety of experiences, such as two- and four-year institutions, gap-year programs and internships.

The Adjustment Process

Transfer students should expect differences in campus culture, academic expectations, and levels of formality at different institutions. They should also be prepared for a phenomenon dubbed “transfer shock,” which may contribute to a possible dip in GPA in the first semester at a new institution. Meaningful support will help your son or daughter remain resilient and pursue success at Westmont.

Transferring to a new college can be challenging and produce an array of conflicting emotions. Adjusting may be difficult. While every student is different, feelings of nervousness, excitement, and pressure to succeed can be a natural part of the process of transferring.

Your student knows what college is like, but not what Westmont College is like, which can be disorienting for some. These dual emotions can produce a sense of confusion, loneliness, or uncertainty in a transfer student’s experience. Your child, who is making another transition, is like a new first-year student only wiser.

Suggestions for Helping Your Student Transition to Westmont


Your transfer student has learned something from his or her experience at their former college and can take advantage of that knowledge while still experiencing a clean slate at a new school.


Your student will be most successful if they know themselves well, understand their strengths, challenges and passions, and evaluate their reasons for the transfer. According to the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement, transfer students may be less engaged in high-impact activities such as study abroad, internships, research, or capstone experiences, so you may want to remind them to seek out those opportunities – and affirm their decision to attend Westmont.

Suggestions for Helping Your Student Transition to Westmont


It’s important that your student think beyond the actual transfer process itself and pay attention to what comes next as they settle into Westmont.


Keep these suggestions in mind and share them with your student.

  • Encourage questions about anything unclear or confusing.
  • Get to know your resident assistant and ask them questions—RAs love welcoming and assisting new students!
  • Attend a residence life event and get to know other students living in your residence hall and section.
  • Identify a professor you’d like to visit during office hours. Ask them about classwork, their journey into their discipline and their experiences at Westmont.
  • Explore and commit to one group, club or activity. Identifying one of more ways of getting involved can be rewarding and prevent over-extension.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Avoid the familiarity trap. Just because you know how something worked at your old school, don’t assume it’s the same.
  • Make use of your knowledge about college. You’ve learned some important lessons so far.
  • Remember that your experience is what you make it.