Some schools just aren’t the right fit for everyone. Finding a college where you fit in and feel comfortable is crucial to having a fun and memorable college experience, but you make that decision when you are still in high school and know very little about what college is really like. Making the decision to transfer from the college you originally chose can be extremely difficult. Your parents may not be on board, you might not want to leave the close friends you have made, and it can be tedious to repeat the college application process Although it may seem easy to stay at your original college, I strongly urge you to consider transferring if you are not happy. If you are considering transferring, here are my five tips to surviving the transferring process and transition:
1. Do your research
This seems pretty obvious, but it is extremely important. The last thing you want to do is to go through all this trouble and end up being unhappy yet again. Figure out what it is about your current school that made you want to transfer. Often, we are still unaware of what kind of person and student we are in high school, but once in college we can realize what kind of learning environment works best for us. Focus more on what is missing in your current college than what you don’t like about it. Make a list of all the things you want out of your college experience that your current institution doesn't give you and figure out what you want your future college to have.
Go online, go on a campus tour over break if it is convenient, talk to people who go there that you may know, and really do your research because transferring more than once, although possible, can be a huge hassle and looks inconsistent on transcripts. In addition, not all universities will accept your credits, so take a very careful look at the transfer policy of the colleges you are interested in. You don’t want the classes you took your first year to go to waste! Check to see how many transfer students they take and what the general academic requirements are, so that you don’t apply to schools whose requirements you don’t meet. Once you picked a few different options that might take your transfer credits and suit you academically, fill out that Common App one more time and get excited!
2. Registering for Classes
Once again, do your research! I’m not the first (and won’t be the last) to say that the classes you take— and the teachers who teach them—are the most important part of your college education. Take your time during registration, especially if you haven’t picked out a major. Luckily, you probably won’t have many required classes if you are a second semester freshman or a sophomore, depending on how many credits transfer to your new college. In this case, you’ll have more free reign over the curriculum. Talk to any students you know about certain teachers, Google them, see what other classes they teach and try to figure out if they’ll be a good fit with your learning style. The teachers you have can make or break a class.
3. You’re all the “New Kid”
As a transfer student, going to a new school can be super daunting. If you are no longer a freshman, you don’t have all the required “meet and greet” times to find some friends that make you feel more at home. Keep in mind that every other transfer student feels the same way. Join the Facebook group if there is one, go to the non-required events held for just transfers and try to find a few people to help you feel more included in the social scene. Especially in New York, you have so many opportunities to grab coffee or dinner with some people who are new, just like you. Take the opportunity to put yourself out there. Chances are that the students around you feel just as alone and scared as you do and will be more than excited to hang out. Once you start classes, you will quickly find out who you click with and you can then make friends with new transfers and also ongoing students.
4. Joining Clubs
I’ve said it once and I will say it again — do your research! Go to club fairs, talk to your peers in your classes about the clubs they’re in and try to get involved. Clubs will help you connect with others who have similar passion, and will make you feel excited about your new experience. It is a great way to meet people who are in all different years and studying different subjects.
5. Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
Although the transfer process is complicated and you may feel sad when you leave the friends that you made previously, it is important to stay in touch. No matter how many clubs you join or cups of coffee you buy at your new college, you cannot forget about your old friends. Shoot them a text or give them a call, I’m sure they’re missing you and are excited to hear about your new school. The best friends are those that can be with you even if you are no longer with them physically every day, and in this digital age it is easy to stay in touch. Maybe one day you will even be able to introduce friends you made your first year with those you make at your transfer college. Who knows, they may even become friends with each other.