Though you’ve been through the college admissions process once, it’s different the second time around when you’re trying to transfer. Deadlines differ based on when you’re hoping to switch schools, and each college has to coordinate with the other on credits, financial aid and more. Essentially, it takes a lot of preparation and time management as you continue to balance your applications with your academics, but by following our step-by-step guide, you can make the transition as smooth as possible.

1. First, assess why you want to transfer. There are good reasons to transfer and not-so-good reasons. Explore what’s behind your desire to transfer and speak with your advisor, family and friends about whether or not it’s the best move for you.

2. Begin your college search…again. Now that you’ve been in college for a few months or a year, make a list of what you do and don’t want in a college. For instance, look for colleges that have your major, your desired location and social environment.

3. Meet with your advisor. If you haven’t already, speak with your advisor about transferring. Chances are, they’ve gone through the process before with another student. They’ll know who to talk to in the registrar, admissions and financial aid offices at your school. Plus, they should be able to give you an idea of which credits transfer.

4. Start scoping out schools. Given that you’ve committed to one school and are hoping to switch to another soon, it’s best to get a good look at the school to which you would like to (finally) commit. Schedule a campus visit, talk to an admissions officer and make a trip to the financial aid office while you’re at it.

5. Check out which credits transfer. In some cases, you’ll be able to transfer college credits from your current school to your future school. Send a transcript to the university you hope to attend, and find out which of your credits will transfer. There are some schools, however, that will not accept transfer credits. If that’s the case, you have to weigh whether starting totally fresh will be worth it.

6. Have a good, long conversation about financial aid. Finances will, no doubt, play a huge role in your ability to transfer. Make sure you’ve spoken with a financial aid administrator at the school you hope to attend to get a clear picture of your financial aid. Also, complete any forms they may require you to fill out as soon as possible.

7. Collect all components of your application. Check out the school’s website or talk with an admissions officer about everything you need for your application. Not only will you need your college transcript, but you’ll most likely need to interview with an admissions officer, write an essay, ask for letters of recommendations from current professors and even submit your SAT or ACT scores and high school transcripts.

8. Apply. This may seem like a no brainer, and once you’ve got the deadline figured out, it is. Universities have very different transfer deadlines.

9. Secure your spot. Finally, to make it official, turn in deposits, housing preferences and any other forms you need to complete in order to commit to your new college. Also, take a deep breath; you did it! Now, get ready for new challenges, friends and opportunities. Best of luck with your transfer application!