Picking a college is hard. Picking a college for the second time may be even harder. As someone who has gone through the ups and downs of transferring colleges, I’m here to help you make it through this big decision!
- First things first… be clear about why you want to transfer
Transferring to a new college can be a big deal. Before you think about which new school to pick, it is important to understand your reasons for transferring. Ask yourself exactly why you want to change colleges. It can be helpful to write down your answers to these questions, especially if you are still stuck in the ‘should I stay or should I go’ phase. If you are able to identify the roots of your problems with your current school, it will make it a lot easier to look for schools that will be a better fit for you in the future. For example, rather than just saying you don’t like the people at your college, try to think about why that may be. Does your school not have enough clubs that would allow you to meet like-minded people? Does your school feel too big or too small? Are you looking for a different type of residential experience? Shifting your mindset to look for these structural issues rather than blaming yourself or your peers can help you move forward in a way that is logical, productive, and much better for your mental health.
- Before you go…check to make sure there is not another solution you may have overlooked
I’m sure you’ve heard it before but transferring colleges can be very challenging. That’s not to say it might not be the best choice for you. I definitely don’t want to discourage you from changing schools, I only urge you to make sure you have given your current college a fair chance first. This is especially true if you are thinking of leaving for mostly social reasons. What you think may be problems with your college, could actually be normal challenges many people face when they start college, especially if it is your first time living away from home. Before you commit to leaving because your first few months at college were tough or you still have not found ‘your people’ ask yourself if there is anything else you could do to make things better. Have you tried to go to any clubs? Have you tried to talk with your classmates? Do you have any other contacts you could ask for help or advice? I know taking this initiative can be hard, but you should recognize how difficult it may be to break into the social scene as a transfer student too. Often there comes a time when you just know you want to transfer, but just make sure you don’t make that jump too soon.
- Time to go… considerations for finding your new college.
Once you’ve decided you are sure you want to transfer, it’s time to look at your options. Whether you are trying to decide which schools to apply to as a transfer student or you are mulling over your acceptance offers, these are some things you might want to think about:
Academic programs- Make sure your new school has classes and majors that interest you. Oftentimes there is a way to make a social scene work for you, but if a college does not offer the classes you want to take, you may find yourself disappointed again.
Extracurriculars- Though you could always start a new club, if a college has student groups you like, it could help you find a sense of belonging at your new school quicker.
The campus- How is this college different from your first college? Is it in a location you think you will like better? Is it rural, urban? Does the living and dining situation fit with what you want? Of course, looks aren’t everything, but the campus does have a big impact on your daily life.
Number of other transfer students- Having a big community of transfer students can help ease the transition, but a small cohort of transfers could bond well too. There’s no best answer here—it’s just something to think about.
Credits- Pay attention to how your credits will transfer to your new college. You might want to contact the admission and/or registrar’s office to be clear about everything. You don’t want to have to add an extra year because of confusions over credit transfers.
I know the transfer process can be stressful and full of so many unknowns, but it will all work out in the end. Transferring colleges is a big change and you may experience a range of emotions from fear to joy to sadness or regret. Taking the time to read this article and make an informed decision about your future shows real courage and drive. Moving forward, I hope you can take all the valuable things you have learned at your first school and leave behind anything (especially any bitterness) that no longer serves you. There are so many new opportunities awaiting you, and I am excited for you to enter this new phase of your life! Be extra kind to yourself during this time, and know your future self will thank you for all the work you are putting into this decision now. You got this!