COLLEGE TRANSFER: Part 1, Things to consider when planning a college transfer

Post By: COYD Staff

This week we are discussing College Transfers. Did you know that over 30% of students transfer to a different school in their college career? The reasons for college transfer vary and they are all across the board. We want to make sure that students who are looking to transfer understand the process and above all, are making the most efficient and productive choice. Deciding to transfer solely based on an emotional reaction to a bad freshmen year or bad dorm experience is not enough. College transfers cost a student time and money and we want to make sure that each student makes the most informed decision.

To do this, let’s talk about why students transfer:

1. Academics

There are 3 academic reasons why students transfer to a different university: 1) They are not being academically challenged. 2) They are being too challenged. 3) They have figured out their career choice and their current university doesn’t offer a program in that field.

Reasons 1 and 3 are solid reasons to transfer to another university. Some students did not necessarily spend a lot of time planning and preparing their college applications during their senior year of high school and as a result, were only accepted into colleges that did not exactly fit their academic level. Transferring allows a student who did exceptionally well in their first or second year of college to transfer to a more academically challenging school. College should not be a walk in the park. It is a place where students should grow both academically and socially.

For students who figured out their specific career path during the first or second year of college and realized that their current university didn’t offer a relevant major or program, transferring is a great option. If a student discovers their freshmen year that they really want to be a reporter, that student might want to transfer to a university that offers a broadcast journalism major or program that rigorously trains future news reporters.

For students with Reason 2, it is not so simple. I would ask the following questions: Has the student fully exhausted all the school’s resources before determining that this university is too academically challenging? Has the student consistently attended office hours? Has the student asked the TA’s for help? Has the student discussed their difficulty to their professors? Has the student joined a study group? Has the student been studying rigorously and diligently?

In addition, students sometimes don’t understand that the first year of college is a transition period and they are not alone in that many students do poorly their freshmen year because they are not used to the college level of study. Most of the time it is not that the students are not smart enough to be at the school, but that they were just not well-prepared. I would advise freshmen with Reason 2 to wait another year before deciding to transfer. Sometimes it takes 1-2 years to figure out how to study on the collegiate level.

2. Finances

In today’s economic climate, many students are finding it hard to pay high private school tuition prices. Before a student gives up and transfers to a cheaper public school, make sure you consider all factors. First, will this more expensive school give you long-term rewards that will outweigh the short-term financial burden? Second, have you asked the financial aid office for more financial aid? Third, have you applied for a work-study job?

In addition, there are costs involved in transferring to a different college. Many times, credits do not transfer from one college to another. Make sure this is not the case. Even if the credits transfer, make sure these courses fulfill the graduation requirements at your new school. Studies show that the majority of transfer students do not complete a bachelor’s degree in four years. The National Center for Education Statistics states that students who attend one university graduate in an average of 51 months; those who attend two, an average of 59 months and those who attend three, an average of 68 months. Remember, more semesters equal more costs.

3. Social Aspects

You just don’t fit in socially at this university. This aspect is a difficult one to discuss because every human being is different and a school that makes you unhappy can affect part of your life. If you truly believe that switching schools will make you ten times happier, then I encourage it. However, there are 2 specific situations where I believe transferring is not necessarily the right choice. First, you hate your roommate. A bad roommate can make you hate your social college experience. Make sure it’s not that you hate your school, but your roommate. If it becomes really bad, go to your RA and ask to be transferred to a different room or dorm, not to a different university. Read June 1st posting┬áregarding Tips on how to find the right roommate. ┬áSecond, you are homesick. Just so you know, even though you see everyone around you partying and having fun, most freshmen are homesick. Students are embarrassed to admit it or share it with other friends but statistics show that the majority of freshmen are homesick. So don’t think you are alone in this matter. If the homesickness debilitates you, then this is when you should consider transferring to a school close to your family; however, part of college is learning how to develop and grow on your own. It’s an institution that helps you transition into adult life. Carefully evaluate if your homesickness is acute or chronic then make the decision to transfer.

Stay tuned for the next post regarding How to Plan Your College Transfer…


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  1. COLLEGE TRANSFER: Part 2, Planning your college transfer | College Admission | College Of Your Dreams Blog - Jun 09., 2010

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