Resources › For Students and Parents Sample College Transfer Essay A Sample Essay by a Student Transferring From Amherst to Penn Share Flipboard Email Print Jacob Wackerhausen / Getty Images For Students and Parents College Admissions Essay Samples & Tips College Admissions Process College Profiles College Rankings Choosing A College Application Tips Testing Graphs College Financial Aid Extracurricular Activities Advanced Placement Homework Help Private School Test Prep College Life Graduate School Business School Law School Distance Learning View More By Allen Grove College Admissions Expert Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania M.A., English, University of Pennsylvania B.S., Materials Science & Engineering and Literature, MIT Dr. Allen Grove is an Alfred University English professor and a college admissions expert with 20 years of experience helping students transition to college. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Allen Grove Updated February 01, 2020 The following sample essay was written by a student named David. He wrote the transfer essay below for the Common Transfer Application in response to the prompt, "Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve" (250 to 650 words). David is attempting to transfer from Amherst College to the University of Pennsylvania. As far as admissions standards go, this is a lateral move—both schools are extremely selective. His letter will need to be extremely strong for his transfer application to be successful. Key Takeaways: A Winning Transfer Essay Have a clear academic reason for your transfer. Personal reasons are fine, but academics need to come first.Stay positive. Don't speak badly of your current school. Emphasize what you like about your target school, not what you dislike about your current school.Be meticulous. Grammar, punctuation, and style matter. Show that you put time and care into your writing. David's Transfer Application Essay During the summer after my first year of college, I spent six weeks volunteering at an archaeological excavation in Hazor, site of the largest tel (mound) in Israel. My time in Hazor was not easy—wake-up came at 4:00 a.m., and by noontime temperatures were often in the 90s. The dig was sweaty, dusty, back-breaking work. I wore out two pairs of gloves and the knees in several pairs of khakis. Nevertheless, I loved every minute of my time in Israel. I met interesting people from around the world, worked with amazing students and faculty from Hebrew University, and became fascinated with the current efforts to create a portrait of life in the Canaanite period. Upon my return to Amherst College for my sophomore year, I soon came to realize that the school does not offer the exact major I now hope to pursue. I'm majoring in anthropology, but the program at Amherst is almost entirely contemporary and sociological in its focus. More and more my interests are becoming archaeological and historical. When I visited Penn this fall, I was impressed by the breadth of offerings in anthropology and archaeology, and I absolutely loved your Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Your broad approach to the field with emphases on understanding both the past and present has great appeal to me. By attending Penn, I hope to broaden and deepen my knowledge in anthropology, participate in more summer field work, volunteer at the museum, and eventually, go on to graduate school in archaeology. My reasons for transferring are almost entirely academic. I have made many good friends at Amherst, and I have studied with some wonderful professors. However, I do have one non-academic reason for being interested in Penn. I originally applied to Amherst because it was comfortable—I come from a small town in Wisconsin, and Amherst felt like home. I'm now looking forward to pushing myself to experience places that aren't quite so familiar. The kibbutz at Kfar HaNassi was one such environment, and the urban environment of Philadelphia would be another. As my transcript shows, I have done well at Amherst and I am convinced I can meet the academic challenges of Penn. I know I would grow at Penn, and your program in anthropology perfectly matches my academic interests and professional goals. Before we even get to the critique of David's essay, it's important to put his transfer into context. David is attempting to transfer into an Ivy League school. Penn is not the most selective of the country's top universities, but the transfer acceptance rate is still around 6% (at Harvard and Stanford, that number is closer to 1%). David needs to approach this effort at transfer realistically — even with excellent grades and a stellar essay, his chances of success are far from guaranteed. That said, he has many things going for him — he is coming from an equally demanding college where he has earned good grades, and he seems like the type of student who will certainly succeed at Penn. He will need strong letters of recommendation to round out his application. Analysis of David's Transfer Essay Now on to the essay... Let's break down the discussion of David's transfer essay into several categories. The Reasons for Transfer The strongest feature of David's essay is the focus. David is pleasingly specific in presenting his reasons for transferring. He knows exactly what he wants to study, and he has a clear understanding of what both Penn and Amherst have to offer him. David's description of his experience in Israel defines the focus of his essay, and he then connects that experience to his reasons for wanting to transfer. There are lots of bad reasons to transfer, but David's clear interest in studying anthropology and archaeology makes his motives seem both well thought-out and reasonable. Many transfer applicants are trying to move to a new college because they are running away from some kind of bad experience, sometimes something academic, sometimes something more personal. David, however, clearly likes Amherst and is running towards something—an opportunity at Penn that better matches his newly discovered professional goals. This is a big positive factor for his application. The Length The Common Transfer Application instructions state that the essay needs to be at least 250 words. The maximum length is 650 words. David's essay comes in at around 380 words. It is tight and concise. He doesn't waste time talking about his disappointments with Amherst, nor does he put much effort into explaining the things that other parts of his application will cover such as grades and extracurricular involvement. He does have a lot more space left to elaborate, but in this case the letter gets the job done well with few words. The Tone David gets the tone perfect, something that is difficult to do in a transfer essay. Let's face it—if you are transferring it is because there is something about your current school that you don't like. It's easy to be negative and critical of your classes, your professors, your college environment, and so on. It's also easy to come across as a whiner or an ungenerous and angry person who doesn't have the inner resources to make the most of one's circumstances. David avoids these pitfalls. His representation of Amherst is extremely positive. He praises the school while noting that the curricular offerings do not match his professional goals. The Personality Partly because of the tone discussed above, David comes across as a pleasant person, someone who the admissions folks are likely to want to have as part of their campus community. Moreover, David presents himself as someone who likes to push himself to grow. He is honest in his reasons for going to Amherst—the school seemed like a good "fit" given his small-town upbringing. It is, therefore, impressive to see him so actively working to expand his experiences beyond his provincial roots. David has clearly grown at Amherst, and he is looking forward to growing more at Penn. The Writing When applying to a place like Penn, the technical aspects of the writing need to be flawless. David's prose is clear, engaging and free of errors. If you struggle on this front, be sure to check out these tips for improving your essay's style. And if grammar isn't your greatest strength, be sure to work through your essay with someone who does have strong grammar skills. A Final Word on David's Transfer Essay David's college transfer essay does exactly what an essay needs to do, and he includes the features of a strong transfer essay. He clearly articulates his reasons for transferring, and he does so in a positive and specific way. David presents himself as a serious student with clear academic and professional goals. We have little doubt that he has the skills and intellectual curiosity to succeed at Penn, and he has made a strong argument about why this particular transfer makes a lot of sense. Odds are still against David's success given the competitive nature of Ivy League transfers, but he has strengthened his application with his essay.