College Transfer: A Change Could do You Good!

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Oct 24, 2001 (Updated Jan 28, 2006)


The Bottom Line Transferring colleges can set you back a year or more, but it can help by eliminating bad grades and by improving your attitude and motivation.

Deciding on the right college or university can take time and planning. The prospective student must search for the school that strikes the right balance between academic appeal, social appeal, and affordability.

But even if a college seems to suit your needs, there is still no guarantee that things will work out. There could be problems in several areas, and this could cause a student to spend many lonely nights pondering the question: Should I transfer schools?

What are Possible Reasons for Transferring?:

Let’s take a quick look at some of the possible reasons why a change of college institutions might interest certain students:

1. Academic Problems: Some students enter an academic program, expecting to have no problem at all keeping up with studies and requirements. They soon discover that the program at a particular school is much more difficult than they first thought. Instead of switching majors, transferring schools is a viable option, in this instance. Even if the intended major is likely going to be a challenge at any school, just the experience of a new institution and new teachers could prove to be beneficial. Also, there’s the possibility that a student might discover a better program, in his/her intended major, at a different college, making a transfer look favorable.

2. Social Problems: This is one of the more common reasons why students decide to bail out and switch to a different school. After experiencing the social scene, a student might discover that he/she doesn’t really fit in to the atmosphere. It could be that the school is too strict and controlling. It could also be the opposite- that the social scene is too loose and too distracting. Social issues and concerns and preferences are completely different from one person to another. It’s up to each individual to determine what level of social activity is appropriate. And while it’s entirely possible for a student to function and perform well academically under adverse social conditions, it makes the college experience less enjoyable. If this is the case, a change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.

3. Money Problems: Financial difficulties hit many students very hard. Money can be particularly scarce when a student attends a private college. Private schools can carry a price tag that’s often several times higher than a comparable state- run institution. This dramatic difference in tuition could very well force a student to reconsider his/her options. Private schools are often more prestigious, yes, but the cost of attendance could make it impractical to attend one. A transfer, to a less expensive school, could definitely be in the cards.

4. Parental Problems: I could have listed this one under money, but I decided to give it a category all its own, because it's an issue that doesn't always involve money directly. If your parents are footing your college bill, then you will likely be subjected to their wrath. If they decide that they don’t like the way you’re performing academically, or that they don’t like all of your carousing and partying, they could very well give you an ultimatum to modify your behavior, or else be forced into a different school. If this happens, the student will have to either find a way to pay the bills himself, or give in to the demands of the parents and accept a transfer to another school.

Is There Anything Good About Transferring?:

Transferring schools can be beneficial, in some cases. Let’s talk about the obvious reasons first. If a person is experiencing any of the problems listed above, then switching schools can be like a breath of fresh air. It can help the student to study better. It can help make the social atmosphere more comfortable and acceptable. It can help free up money for other things, and get your unreasonable, controlling parents to give you a much- needed break.

Another good thing about transferring schools is that some of your lowest grades will usually be dropped. This can be very helpful to a student that’s experiencing academic difficulties at the present college. When you transfer, most colleges will only accept grades that are at least a “C” or better. Grades of “D” and “F” will not transfer, even though a “D” is a passing grade. So, if you’re worried about your 1.5 GPA at your present college, then transferring could make a big difference. By eliminating all the low grades, your GPA could suddenly rise to a full point or more, to 2.5 or better.

What are the Cons to Transferring Schools?:

If you accept a transfer, you must be prepared to go through an adjustment phase. You will need to become acquainted with a new way of doing things; prepare to meet new friends; and adapt to the way of life, both academically and socially, at your new college. Of course, if you did your homework first and investigated the new college, there shouldn’t really be any big surprises. You should already have a good idea of what to expect.

The other thing to consider is the academic setbacks that a transfer will involve. Like I stated above, you will be able to able to eliminate your lowest grades, when you transfer your credits to another school. Your GPA will go up, but so will the necessary credits need to complete your studies. That’s because with each dropped grade, you will be expected to re- take the same course again, or some equivalent course. So, if you transferred schools and you had, say, 10 “D’s”, these grades will be eliminated, but you will have 10 more classes to take then you had before. Getting an “F” doesn’t count as a valid grade at any college, so transferring won’t make any difference, in the case of a failing grade (You will have to make up “F” grades, even at your present college). But your “D’s” will be dropped and must be made up.

Another negative thing to keep in mind is that you might discover that not all of your class credits qualify for transferring. Even with classes where your grade was high, the subject might be something that the new college will not accept, as part of a transfer plan. Once again, this will extend your college career because you will be forced to take more classes in order to fulfill the minimum graduation requirements at your new college.

Final Thoughts:

Transferring schools is a big decision to make. If you decide to transfer and things don’t work out the second time, you could still transfer again, but it would not be wise. You could set yourself back many years for graduating. That’s why it’s very important that you make sure that your new college is going to be the one that suits your needs.

I considered transferring a few times when I was a student, for financial reasons. I was able to cover all of my schooling with grants and loans, and the thought of owing so much student loan money made me start to consider switching to a less expensive college. I finally decided, though, that I would just tough it out, because I knew that a few of my classes might not qualify for transferring, and this would require taking more classes and postponing graduation by 6 months to a year.

If conditions are bad, and you are really feeling down and out at your present college, then transferring might be the best answer to your problems. It will likely set you back a year or two, but what would you rather have- 4 miserable years at a college you don’t like, or 5 blissful years at a college that fulfills all of your needs? Giving up an extra year of your life is a sacrifice, but it’s better than losing your sanity.

If you’re very unhappy, then you should do the right thing and transfer schools. It will work wonders for your mental health and attitude.




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