I assume you are not asking about a student with concurrent college credits earned during high school. That student will not be considered a transfer applicant.
On the other hand, a student who has earned thirty credits after graduating from high school will always be considered a transfer applicant.
The uncertainty arises with fewer than 30 credits, and colleges can adopt their own policies to govern those applicants. You or the student can inquire of the transfer counselor in each admissions office, who will tell you whether the student will be considered a freshman or a transfer applicant.
As far as the part of your question that asks “what to do?” I am not sure which next step is the focus of that inquiry.
i suspect there is far more you’d like to know, but I hope this answer is a helpful first step.