Transfer is not a Dirty Word

As a high school junior and senior you might have spent hours, weeks, or months analyzing the right colleges to apply to. You finally apply – voila – and then you are accepted to more than one. Perhaps one was your “dream” college, or maybe not. Now you need to decide where to go. And before you know it, you’re off to college.

Yet the college you start off at may not be the college you graduate from. Many students choose to find another college to attend by going through the transfer process. Unfortunately, some believe there is a stigma associated with this, when in fact there shouldn’t be. Transferring doesn’t mean you didn’t try hard enough, or somehow failed at your first institution. Wanting to transfer simply means the first college somehow isn’t the best fit for you, you have now gained valuable insight into what your goals truly are, and you are ready to find the right college for you.

Over one-third of college students end up transferring. That’s right – ONE-THIRD. It’s a much larger number than most people realize. The reasons vary, of course, but there are predominant factors that lead to a student deciding that a transfer is the right decision for them:

  • Change in academic plans: at age 17, it can be hard – sometimes very hard – to know the academic path you want to pursue in college. If you figure out in sophomore year that your passion is architecture, but your school does not offer an architectural program, off you go to another college.
  • Poor Fit: on paper, the college you initially selected seemed like it was right for you; after living and breathing on that campus for a year or more, it becomes evident that you are simply not thriving in this campus’ environment. It’s time to think clearly about what environment is truly best for you.
  • You began at a community college: you have been successful for your first few semesters and now feel ready for a more rigorous environment.

There are many factors to consider when transferring colleges: Have you taken the prerequisites necessary to transfer? Have you done all you need to for a successful transfer? Are you clear on what you are looking for? Do you have a career goal or an academic major you want to pursue? Feeling confident in these areas will ensure your transfer is successful.

Going through the transfer process is not identical to the application process when a student applies to college as an entering freshman. The deadlines are quite different (often into the spring, so applying in December through February is common – in fact, many students apply during their winter break), the requirements vary college to college, essays are necessarily structured differently – and therefore guidance can be extremely helpful in ensuring that the student presents the strongest application and covers all of the bases, so to speak.

There is no shame in transferring colleges. The decision you made at age 17 or 18, if it was not the right one at age 19, does not have to limit your education. Finding the path and place that is right for you will lead to a more successful outcome in the end, no matter if it is at the first college you enrolled in or not. What matters, in the end, is that you attain the right experience that sets you up for a bright future.

Marjorie Licht, Milestone College Advisor