Should I transfer schools?

worried-725521-mTransitioning to college is a big deal and it doesn’t always go smoothly. In fact, nearly one in three college students consider transferring schools at some point. So how do you know whether you should find a new school or stick it out?  We’re pleased to share tips from Professor Alan Grove at Alfred University on whether or not you should transfer schools. First let’s look at the common reasons students think about transferring to a new college or university.

Save money. It’s understandable to want to switch colleges to save money. But before you leap, be sure that your transfer plan isn’t going to end up costing you more. First, don’t assume that you’ll earn your undergraduate degree in four years. Often when you transfer, the time to graduation increases.

Look for articulation agreement for the school you’re considering attending to confirm that they accept credits from the school you’re transferring from. If credits do transfer, find out what type of credits the school will give you. If they’re just elective credits, those might not count toward the requirements for your major, so check ahead of time.

On a positive note, don’t assume that a school with a higher sticker price will end up costing you more. Some of the most expensive schools have the best financial aid packages.

Academic challenges. If you aren’t doing well in your classes, it’s tempting to want to look elsewhere for school, but that’s often not a good reason to transfer. Before you make a move, ask yourself why you’re not doing well. For example, on average you should be dedicating two to three hours of work for every hour of class that you have. Also, have you taken advantage of support services, such as tutoring? These can help you overcome obstacles to academic issues.

Academic upgrade. Often students will transfer so they can attend a more challenging or more prestigious school, or if their academic interests have changed. It’s not uncommon to discover that your originally chosen major or area of focus isn’t what you want to do, and your current school doesn’t fulfill your academic goals. Other students switch schools so they can be in a more intellectual stimulating environment, such as one where your peer group challenges you or where you have more hands-on research opportunities.

Dislike of professors. Sometimes you just don’t connect with your professors, and this can make college seem unpleasant. Just remember, this is likely to be a short-term problem. You don’t want to judge the entire school by the few professors that you have now. Take some time to visit other classes, or maybe sit in on a friend’s class to find out what else the school has to offer. Also, talk with your advisor. Once they get to know you personally, they may be able to share guidance on professors that would be a good match for you.

Social reasons. Often students will be tempted to switch schools if they feel like they aren’t fitting in where they currently go to school, whether it’s due to a lack of new friends or a feel that the students just aren’t a good match for you. Sometimes students will think about transferring just a few weeks into their first semester. It’s important to give it some time. Make an effort to participate in campus activities and find like-minded students. You may find that this makes all the difference. If you find that your current school clashes with your interests and personality in serious ways, it certainly might make sense to look elsewhere though. This is a very personal decision.

Family obligations. Sometimes issues arise that make it critical for you to attend school closer to home, whether it’s long-term or just for a semester. Some students might switch schools so they can help care for an ailing parent, for example. If, however, you’re just moving home because a parent wants you nearby or because you’re feeling homesick, it’s usually best to stick it out. Time will help you both adjust to your new living situation. You and your family can also get help from the school’s counseling center.

A relationship. Love will make us do crazy things, and often switching schools to be with a boyfriend or girlfriend is one of them. Before you transfer schools to be closer to your beau, ask yourself: If he/she wasn’t going to this school, would I still be interested in going there? Your college experience may well define much of your life, so be sure that it meets your personal, academic, and career goals before you make a big move like that.

Bad roommate. Having a difficult roommate is awkward and can make anyone want to jump ship. Before you bail on the school though, see if there’s another solution. Talk with your residence advisor to see if they can help you work it out. Some schools will allow you to change rooms if there’s space available, or will provide conflict resolution techniques to help improve the situation.

For more information, check out our video on the good and bad reasons to transfer colleges.