So you’re thinking of transferring…

Well, this is a little awkward. I transferred to Emory, and yet here I am writing for Emory students who are considering transferring out. Maybe you think I’m here to discourage you. I chose to come here, so I can’t possibly understand your reasons for wanting to leave, right?

Actually, I completely understand. When everyone else seems to love your school but you don’t, you may start to wonder if you’re the problem. It’s important to remember, however, that everyone has their own niche. There are environments where we thrive, and environments where we wither. Your school may be right for others, but not for you.

If you’re having doubts, that’s totally normal. The first thing you should try to figure out is why you want to transfer. If you don’t vibe with the student body; if your school doesn’t offer the major, curriculum, or opportunities you want; if you’re too close to home and you want a fresh start; if you’re too far from home and you’d feel more comfortable closer to your family; if you can’t afford the school, you have a good case for transferring. Even if you’re simply unhappy at your school and you’re not sure why that’s perfectly valid.

But sometimes the issue isn’t the school itself. Maybe you’re just not the type of person who thrives in academic environments. Maybe you’re studying the wrong subject, and you’re confusing your distaste for your classes with distaste for the school. You could be hanging out with the wrong people. Or you could have some personal issues that affect your ability to thrive. It can be difficult to pinpoint the problem, and it can be even more difficult to take the risk of transferring when you’re not sure if your problems will be solved by leaving.

 

Before making impulsive decisions, try making small adjustments to your college experience until you find something that works for you. Meet new people, join different clubs, take different kinds of classes, switch dorm rooms, or switch majors (~30% of undergrads do so at least once). Talk to advisors, professors, classmates, or your school’s mental health counselors for advice and insight. Start with small changes, and then if you’re still unhappy, transferring may be the best option for you.

It doesn’t hurt to send out a few applications, even if you’re having doubts. Start searching for schools that offer the things that your current school lacks. Visit them. Talk to current students, especially people who transferred to that school. Colleges will likely respond in the Spring, and by then, you should have made some smaller changes and determined whether or not you feel better about your college.

 

But as you’re writing your transfer applications, don’t spend the rest of the year with the mindset that you’re going to leave. Not only will that make the rest of your time at your current school unpleasant, but it might ruin any chance you might have of reconciling with the school. The goal should be to stay, not to leave, because transferring can be quite a hassle academically, emotionally, and financially. But if you’re absolutely sure that you want to transfer, at least try having a good time while you’re still here.

I’m going to be honest, I did everything at my old school that I’ve just told you not to do. Could I have found my place at my old school if I followed my own advice? Perhaps, but it doesn’t really matter at this point because I found my niche at Emory. Transferring may or may not be the right choice for you. Ultimately, you should make the decision that will best suit your personal needs.