To Transfer or Not to Transfer: What to Do If You Are on the Fence

You Should Consider Transferring if…..

The university does not offer your program of choice

You may be certain that you want to study something, but that may not work out where you are at. Here at UW (and some other universities as well), plenty of majors are both very competitive as well as capacity-constrained, meaning that not all who qualify for acceptance are admitted. If you are not admitted into your major of choice or simply wish to attend another institution where you can pursue it without a doubt, go for it! You should not have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to pursue a degree in a field that you consider your “back-up” or one that you are not interested in. 

You have no motivation to attend classes or get involved

There is a difference between disliking a particular course and not wanting anything to do with your classes or integrating into campus life. Trust yourself on this one and don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family, advisors, significant other, or anyone else you trust and feel comfortable talking to. If you are struggling with keeping up with classes and genuinely have to drag yourself out the door every day, perhaps you need to consider if the environment you are in is the problem. It may not always be obvious, but the environment that you are in plays a huge role in your mental and physical well-being. If you truly believe that where you are is bringing you down, there is nothing wrong with removing yourself from said environment. Remember– your health, well-being, and happiness come first! While you figure out if transferring is something you want to do, try to schedule an appointment with a mental health specialist, if needed, or join an online or in-person support group. 

You are looking for a different demographic and experience

Maybe you did not get the chance to visit your school before committing to attending. Or perhaps what you would like out of your college experience has changed since your first day. You might be religious or would prefer an all-women college. Or maybe you realized that an urban environment stresses you out and you dream of being in a small, liberal arts college with a small student body and personal interactions with your professors. Either way, if you are unhappy with the environment and feel that it is taking a toll on your grades, your mental health, or your happiness, it might be a good idea to look into other options. 

You need time off 

Ok, needing time off does not necessarily mean you should withdraw and set up a transfer right away. However, if you find yourself needing to take a break, it could be an indication that the environment you are in is not right for you. There is no shame in taking time off. Whether that be a quarter or even a year, make sure you evaluate what YOU need and make the proper arrangements to ensure that happens. If you are planning on coming back, let your advisor know about your plans and see if there are any steps you need to take. While you do not have to decide right away, it could be a good thing to first take a leave of absense (instead of completely dropping out) and then decide whether you want to transfer or not- after you have had the chance to rest and think. If your parents are a part of your college journey, you may need to let them know. Sometimes, parents or family members might not understand or support your decision. If that is the case but you know that taking time off is what you need, trust yourself and do what is right for you. This is your life, after all. 41.6% of college students struggle with anxiety and 36.4% struggle with depression, and without proper acknowledgement of the problem and proper help and rest, it can quickly take a severe toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Time off may be just what you need, or you might find another institution better suited for your wants and needs while you are taking the time off! 


You Might Want to Reconsider if….

It’s your first quarter and you haven’t made any friends 

Friendships take time to develop. At a big school like UW, where there are thousands and thousands of students on campus, it can be both intimidating and difficult to meet others. By now, hopefully you have joined an on-campus organization or two. If you haven’t or if that did not work out, give it some time. Try to put yourself out there by saying “hi” to others on your floor when you pass them in the hallway or by getting to know whoever is sitting next to you in your lecture. Don’t worry about approaching others outside of classrooms or organized social activities. Chances are, others are nervous as well and would appreciate you taking initiative. 

You are not sure what you want to major in 

So the major you have been set on doing since you were 10 did not work out. Maybe you wanted to be an astronaut when you were little but realized that you hate physics and math. In addition to speaking with your advisor, make appointments with other advisors in the academic department(s) that you are even remotely interested in– they are here to help you with any questions or concerns! Do not be afraid to reach out to them as often as you need to and ask them whatever is on your mind. Additionally, try to sample different courses in your departments of interest to truly get a taste of what the major experience would be like.

You are getting bored with your classes 

It happened: you would much rather hit snooze for the twentieth time than make it to your 9am lecture. This might simply be an indication that you are not interested in the subject and does not necessarily require transferring. The good news is that if you are looking for classes to fulfill your general education requirements, chances are your university offers a variety of subjects that would fall under a specific distribution requirement (UW does). Use this time to explore different subjects and find courses that sound interesting to you. Even if you do not plan to major in that field, it might end up being a fun experience and you could even meet a new friend or two! College is all about experimenting and branching out; if a specific class is making you want to fall asleep, it usually does not require transferring schools.

You’re skipping classes because you are too hungover to make it on time 

Parties and social events are a part of many students’ college experiences. However, if the sole reason that your academic life is suffering is because you are staying out until the wee hours of the morning, it might be more beneficial to work on establishing a realistic weekday routine instead of transferring to a different school and falling into the same old habits. You don’t have to completely cut out your social life in order to do well academically, but you might want to limit going out to a few nights a week and practice better time-management skills.