Growing up, I had this idea that I was going to go to a single college or university, and I was never going to transfer. Transferring was for other people, but I would never do it. A few years into college, I have realized that it’s okay to want to change schools, and if the school you chose turns out to be not the right fit, by all means find a better school. Since I have transferred twice, I think that I should let you, the reader, know what I think about transferring universities.
First, my educational backstory. I went to a ~very~ small private high school; in my graduating class, there were 8 of us. This meant that I was not used to the large class sizes that come with a typical university. My high school was also an Expeditionary Learning (EL) school, so we did a lot of hands on, community based learning. It was quite far off the main path. As my senior year rolled around, I started taking a couple online classes from my community college to get a head start on my degree. I don’t think I will graduate early, or even on time, but more on that later.
Anyway, I decided to go to the community college after I graduated. My seventeen year old self wanted to put off worrying about how to send transcripts. Due to my head start, I finished my associates degree in liberal arts last December, which meant that I had to figure out where to go next. What was I going to do?
I spent this past spring semester at a public university close to where I live, and it was a good school, but I had already contemplated transferring to another school. At this smaller university, I could have the experience of living on my own and I could also do what I love: music. I could have done music at my old university, but its program is very competitive, and I was not accepted. Sure, I could reapply next year, but I didn’t really feel a connection with the flute teacher, she was a little snobby. And the big school was also not the best thing for me.
Having said all that, transferring is definitely something serious, and you should try to avoid transferring on a whim, because it can really mess with your class schedule and your graduation date. There are a few good reasons to transfer:
You are not happy in your current environment, and you know another school would be a better fit. If you are uncomfortable are stressed at your current university, you should definitely look into different schools. If this is the case, try to avoid schools that are similar to your current one. If you look at similar colleges, you will probably have a similar experience. You should look for schools that have qualities that you think you are missing or you think would be helpful for you.
You are at a community college, and you want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Most community colleges in the United States offer two-year associates degrees and some certificates, but I have yet to come across a community college with a bachelor program. Some have partnerships that allow you to complete certain degrees on the same campus, but the last two years are through a different university rather than the community college itself.
You have decided to switch majors, and your current school does not have said program. If you are at a school majoring in one thing and want to switch to a program that doesn’t exist at that school, you will probably need to transfer.
On the other hand, there are a few not-so-good reasons to transfer universities:
You want to be with a friend or two from high school. If you switch schools to be with an old friend, you will probably be disappointed. The university where your friend is may not be the one for you. It is better to be in an environment where you are happy than to be with a friend. Technology is very prominent in our society, and it is very easy to keep in contact with friends and family from home.
You had one problem class or professor in a general class. If there is one problem you have and it is an isolated issue, you can probably avoid it in the future. If you disliked one class or professor, especially if it was in a general Ed class, you probably won’t have to be in that situation again. If you do have to take another class from that department, check is you can take the other class from a different professor or in a different way (i.e. face-to-face vs online, lecture hall vs small lecture class).
You want to finish your degree as soon as possible. Even if you are transferring through an articulated agreement, you might be setting yourself back by transferring. Not all schools will accept all classes from your originating university. Be sure to check the website of your current college and the school where you want to transfer.
Overall, I think transferring can be a good thing if you believe that you need to change universities in order to have the best experience. But transferring is not for everyone. It can put off graduation, and sometimes it means retaking classes you thought you were done with. The only person who can decide if you should transfer is you. You might have to talk it over with your parents or whoever is paying for your education, but you need to do what is best for you. What works for one person might be the worst idea for another. To learn more, search “(university name) transfer student” or go to http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-solution/2010/11/16/transfer-students-8-things-you-need-to-know