College Transfers: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Learn about the best (and worst) reasons for transferring, and get tips for making a smooth transition to a new school
Have you been feeling like you might want to transfer to another college? There’s no shame in admitting you’d rather be somewhere else, and today’s colleges are (for the most part) more willing than ever to work with transfer students. However, it’s still a huge decision that will have a significant impact on your college career. This handy guide will help you decide whether it’s time to make a change and, if so, how to do it.
Reasons to Transfer
There are plenty of valid reasons to transfer to a different college, including:
- Degree level: Transferring from a community college to a four-year institution to get a bachelor’s degree is both smart and financially savvy.
- Academics: Maybe you recently decided what you’d like to study, and you’ve discovered that your college doesn’t have a particularly strong program in that area. Transferring to a college that does have a strong program will provide you with a better education and increased opportunities.
- Finances: If funds for your education have suddenly decreased (a parent became unemployed, for example), you may want to reconsider your college choice, especially if you’re at an expensive school. Talk to the financial aid office first to see what your options are if you prefer not to leave.
- Being unhappy: This isn’t like having a bad day, or even a bad week. If you’re consistently feeling withdrawn from others or losing interest in school, then it’s possible that your current college might not be the best fit. It’s helpful to seek advice from a counselor or therapist when making your decision.
If you’re considering transferring to another college for any of these reasons, consider whether there is another way to find a solution to the problem you’re experiencing.
These are a few examples of common reasons that students consider transferring to new schools. That being said, not all reasons are equally reliable. According to Education.com, the following are some of the most popular “bad” reasons to transfer:
- Having a bad first semester
- Not getting along with your roommate
- Having trouble making friends
- Missing your boyfriend or girlfriend
- Being homesick
If you’re considering transferring to another college for any of these reasons, consider whether there is another way to find a solution to the problem you’re experiencing. In the situations described above, a transfer should be a last resort instead of a “quick fix.”
Researching and Applying to Colleges
Once you’ve decided you’d like to transfer to a different school, it’s time to decide which college you want to attend. Start by making a wish list of things you’d like in a college. This may be closely related to the reasons you have for transferring to begin with. For example, maybe you’ve decided to become a doctor, so it’s important that the college you transfer to has a strong pre-med program.
Once you’ve found a few colleges that meet your criteria, take the time to find out more about what they offer. Visit the campus if you can and talk to both students and professors about what it’s like there. Transferring should be a one-time thing, so learn as much as you can about each college to help you make the right decision.
Finally, get the details about how to apply. The requirements and deadlines are sometimes a bit different for transfer students.
One of the most significant factors that students overlook in their plans to transfer is how many of their credits will transfer along with them. While researching colleges, you’ll want to speak with one of the school’s academic advisors to find out which credits will count if you do end up transferring. Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind:
- Bring along a syllabus for each class you completed. If you didn’t keep yours, consider asking the professor to email you a copy. This helps academic advisors determine whether your credits should count.
- Be aware that your grades matter. According to the Princeton Review, some colleges won’t accept credit for a course if you earn below a C.
- If some of your credits won’t transfer, you may have to forego study abroad plans, take summer classes or push back your intended graduation date.
Remember that transferring to a new college isn’t the same as applying as a high school senior. This time around, admissions officials will be looking much more closely at your college grades than your high school transcript. If you hope to transfer, it’s important to buckle down and do your best at your current school in order to increase your chances of being accepted at another college.
In the past, it’s been tough for transfer students to find scholarship funds. Fortunately, U.S. News and World Report has found that’s no longer the case. More colleges are setting aside scholarship money for potential transfers. Students who are thinking about transferring should contact the financial aid office at the schools they’re considering early on. This provides ample time to learn about potential scholarship funds, deadlines and application requirements. In addition to institutional scholarships, you can also search for private scholarships and apply for federal aid. Just be careful to factor these costs into your decision.
Even though colleges are making it easier for transfer students to transition to a new school, it’s still a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure you look at all your options and consider whether transferring is really the right choice for you before you apply elsewhere.