So you got into the college of your dreams. Now everything’s perfect, right? You’re having time of your life and getting a great education in the process. Does this sound like you? If not, then if you’re anything like the countless other students in your situation, you could be considering transferring to another college.
For some students, things at school just didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. Maybe you don’t get along with the head of your major department. Maybe you hate the college’s location. Maybe you’re having a hard time making friends. Maybe your school doesn’t offer a specific program or club. Or maybe- and this is a very real possibility- maybe you can’t place what’s wrong, but you know that something isn’t quite right.
Whatever your reasons, it could be possible that a transfer is your best bet. But before you commit to a decision, there are a number of factors that you need to consider:
When you were searching for colleges as a senior in high school, a college’s tuition price was probably a big deciding factor. No one wants to be paying off student loans into their retirement years, so it was important for you to find the best value. Well, the price of a college’s tuition is just as important now as it was when you were first searching for schools.
There are a few differences now, though. For one thing (and believe me, I hate to be the one to have to tell you this), you’re probably going to get fewer scholarships.
If you don’t have any scholarships now, then that’s no added stress, but if you’re receiving a substantial chunk of change from your current school, chances are, you can expect to lose it when you transfer.
Most colleges offer scholarships to transfer students, of course, but those scholarships are significantly smaller than the ones they offer to first year students. This will differ from school to school, but here are examples of the scholarships awarded to a few randomly-chosen colleges’ top-achieving students:
- West Virginia University: $18,000 per year plus a $3500 study abroad stipend for first year students; $2000 per year for transfer students
- University of Tennessee in Chattanooga: $9000 per year for first year students; $2000 per year for transfer students
- York College of Pennsylvania: $7500 per year for first year students; $2000 per year for transfer students
So in general, transfer students receive much less free money than first year students. That being said, though, it’s extremely important for you to understand this simple fact: Money isn’t everything- not by a long shot. So what if a college costs a couple thousand dollars more a year?
Statistically speaking, you’re probably going to be in debt for a few decades anyway, so what’s a couple of extra loan payments in exchange for your happiness?
If you’re absolutely positive that you want to be there instead of where you are right now, then make the switch without delay. Just always ask yourself, “Would making the switch be worth it?”
If your transferring to another school because of the social life, then it’s important for you to think very, very hard about your decision. Ask yourself, “Would things really change at this new school?” If you’re having trouble making friends at your current school, is it really your peers? Or is it you?
Realize that in many cases, a person’s inability to make friends is rooted in their own issues, such as shyness. In most of these cases, changing schools probably isn’t going to make much of a difference.
There are exceptions, though, and if your situation sounds similar to any of the examples below, perhaps transferring for a different social scene would be a good idea. Please note, though, that most of these examples involve concrete differences between two schools, not just a “grass is greener” mentality:
- You want to be in a fraternity or sorority, but your current school doesn’t offer these groups.
- You hate how little your peers party and can’t stand the lack of bars or clubs in your college’s town.
- You hate how much your peers party and would rather be on a dry campus.
- You want to try an all-girls or all-boys school.
- You are being bullied or, for whatever reason, have a bad reputation at your current school and want a chance to start over.
As was mentioned above, some problems can’t be solved by simply transferring schools, so before you take the leap, be sure to fully evaluate the reasons behind your desire to transfer. Be as honest with yourself as possible, and determine whether or not there are solutions to your problem that don’t involve packing up and leaving.
For example, are you really transferring because the engineering department at the new school has a better reputation, or are are you transferring because you want to be closer to your boyfriend/ girlfriend? Are you really incurably homesick, or do you just need to give yourself more of a chance to make friends by joining more clubs and staying on campus more often instead of going home every weekend? Do you really hate all of the classes offered by your school, or do you just hate your major?
If you are transferring because you think it’s truly the right choice, then do so without hesitation. But if you’re transferring in order to hide from a deeper problem, then it’s important that you work through that issue instead of simply running away from it. Otherwise, you could find yourself facing the same problems at a new location.
Whatever you decide, do what’s best for you. Remember, although transferring and starting over can be scary, it can also be immensely rewarding. College should be the best four years of your life, and if you’re unhappy at your current school, a transfer could be the best way to make your college experience the one you always dreamed about.