How to Tell Your Parents You Want to Transfer Colleges

A Difficult Conversation Can Be Made Easier with a Few Small Steps

Vulnerable father talks seriously with son
Steve Debenport / Getty Images

Chances are, you and your parents spent a lot of time looking at, preparing for, applying to, and finally deciding on which college you wanted to attend. Which means, of course, that if you decide you really don't like where you are and you want to transfer to another institution, bringing the topic up to your folks presents quite a few challenges. So just where should you begin?

Be Honest

It's okay to admit that you don't like where you are; approximately 1 in 3 college students ends up transferring at some point, which means that your desire to head somewhere else certainly isn't unusual (or even unexpected). And even if you feel like you're letting your parents down or are otherwise creating problems, being honest about how your current experience is going is still really important. It's much easier to transfer before things become overwhelming, after all, and your parents need you to be honest if they're going to be able to fully help and support you.

Talk About What You Don't Like at Your Institution

Is it the students? The classes? The professors? The overall culture? Talking through what's causing your stress and unhappiness can not just help you find a solution, it can help transform what feels like an overwhelming issue into smaller, conquerable problems. Additionally, if you're looking to transfer, you'll be better able to identify what you don't want at your next college or university.

Talk About What You Do Like

It's unlikely that you dislike every single thing at your current school. It can be hard -- but also helpful -- to think about the things you really do like. What attracted you to your institution in the first place? What appealed to you? What do you still like? What did you learn to like? What would you like to see at any new place you transfer to? What do you find appealing about your classes, your campus, your living arrangement?

Focus on the Fact that You Want to Continue

Calling your parents to say you want to leave your school can be heard two ways: you want to transfer colleges or you want to drop out of college altogether. And for most parents, the former is a lot easier to handle than the latter. Focus on your desire to stay in school and to continue your education -- just at another college or university. That way, your parents can focus on making sure you find someplace with a better fit instead of worrying that you're throwing your future away.

Be Specific

Try to be very detailed about why you don't like where you are. While "I just don't like it here" and "I want to come home/go somewhere else" might adequately convey how you're feeling, broad statements like these make it difficult for your parents to know how to support you. Talk about what you like, what you don't like, when you'd like to transfer, where (if you know) you'd like to transfer, what you want to study, what your goals still are for your college education and career. That way, your parents can help you focus on the things that are most important in ways that are specific and actionable.

Talk Through the Specifics

If you really do want to transfer (and end up doing so), there are a lot of logistics to work out. Before you fully commit to leaving your current institution, make sure you're fully aware of how the process will work. Will your credits transfer? Will you have to pay back any scholarships? When will you have to start paying back your loans? What financial obligations do you have in your living environment? Will you lose any efforts you've made in the current semester -- and, consequently, would it be wiser to just stay a little while longer and finish up your current course load? Even if you want to transfer as soon as possible, you likely don't want to spend longer than needed cleaning up what you left behind. Make a plan of action, knowing deadlines for all of your to-do's, and then talk with your parents about how they can best support you during the transition.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Tell Your Parents You Want to Transfer Colleges." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2020, August 28). How to Tell Your Parents You Want to Transfer Colleges. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Tell Your Parents You Want to Transfer Colleges." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).