How to Recruit Transfer Students

Transfer students have long been overlooked in the admissions recruiting process, lumped in with other groups of students and rarely mentioned in promotional materials. But the transfer student population is increasingly being seen as a viable target market—and for good reason. Transfer students make up over 1.3 million yearly enrollments and present a huge opportunity for enrollment marketers. Many transfer students are pursuing education online, at community colleges, or at satellite locations before committing to what they see as “their” university. Learn how to recruit transfer students and how they differ from your other segments.

So how can you stand out from the competition and recruit transfer students? Here’s your ultimate guide on how to recruit transfer students.

University Library: Cute Couple of Students Have Discussion, use Laptop, Prepare for Exams Together, Helping, Researching Subjects for the Paper Assignment.

Who are transfer students? Characteristics of a transfer student

Transfer students aren’t blank slates—they come to your school with a frame of reference from their previous college experience, and that can often make them more goal-oriented and focused in their area of study. They have a clearer idea of what they want to get out of their college experience, whether they transferred laterally or vertically to a four-year college. 

Transfer students are also more likely to experience transition issues, resulting in a lower engagement than traditional first-year students. Understanding who your future transfer students are will not only help you create messaging that resonates with your target audience, but to support them after enrollment to ensure that they have a positive student experience overall. 

1. Build your transfer pool

There are less resources available to build your pool of transfer students than there are for traditional freshmen because transfer students can have more complex reasons for enrollment and a more fluid timeline. But there are a few ways to ensure your enrollment team has enough prospects. 

First, roll over your previous years’ transfer student inquiries. Students have many reasons for inquiring and then delaying, so you can continue to recruit for three to four years after inquiry. 

Second, build strong relationships with your local community colleges and encourage them to share the names of their graduates. You can increase your success in this area by having a strong articulation agreement in place. 

And third, you can create a “special admit” program for applicants that were denied as first-year students, building a bridge for future transfers. 

2. Streamline transfer credits

The first step to leading a successful transfer recruitment program is to ensure that the transfer process is as easy as possible. The transfer process is notorious for being challenging, as students often lose credits in the process of switching schools. Promoting your transfer credits provides incentive for transfer students to inquire and enroll in your university. Additionally, make online transfer guides and articulation agreements both easily accessible and understandable. 

3. Offer unique orientations just for transfer students

Transfer students can often be neglected when it comes to program orientation, and are lumped with incoming first-year students. To connect transfer students to other transfers that share their experience, and to provide more helpful and relevant orienting, offer unique orientations just for transfer students. 

Read Next: Is Your Graduate School Recruitment Strategy Working? Our Research Found Out.

4. Dedicate an admissions staff to answer transfer questions

The transfer enrollment process can often be quick, as transfer students often seek to move through the process in a short amount of time. Your team has to be responsive to the speed of this process, as well as being equipped with the right answers to transfer students’ questions and resources they might need along the way. 

To aid in this process, you can dedicate an admissions staff to answer transfer questions and provide them with the resources to be successful in their enrollment journey. This staff member can help tailor financial aid resources, talk about transfer-specific housing options, and offer any advice they may need along the way.

5. Recruit transfer students with targeted messaging

Don’t lump your transfer students in with the rest of the prospective students you’re targeting. Instead, be strategic with the way you communicate with them. Address their questions, appeal directly to what you know their motivations are, and emphasize how your university is a fit for them specifically. The more targeted your messaging, the more likely transfer students are to take the next step in the enrollment journey—because they feel understood and supported by your university. 

Read Next: How to Recruit Online Students

6. Promote career counseling and career resources

Transfer students, even more than traditional students, want to ensure that their educational investments will lead to career advancement. The career opportunities your university is able to prepare them for and provide to them is the reason why they would choose your university. So promote your career counseling, your career resources, your networking opportunities, and your courses that serve to enhance students’ resumes and help them succeed in their chosen careers.  

Are you ready to build a transfer student recruitment strategy to increase your student enrollment next quarter or semester? Contact us today to get started. 

Timothy Gerstmyer

Tim has a 25+ year track record of conceiving and implementing innovative digital and multi-platform lead-generation strategies. He joined Refuel Agency in 2014 to build its Digital Media division with responsibility for developing digital solutions that dynamically and effectively target audiences and achieve substantial ROI for our clients. Tim’s impact on the Education category has now carried over to the launch of Thinking Cap Agency in 2019 with the introduction of new, cutting edge multi-platform and data driven lead generation strategies that dramatically increase student enrollments goals.