Good Reasons to Transfer to a Different College

Why a Transfer Might Make Sense

About 30% of college students transfer to a different school at some point during their academic career, but not all of them transfer for legitimate reasons and not all students who should transfer do. Too often, students switch schools because they're unhappy with their social life, failing a class, or don't like their roommate. These are not ideal situations, but they are not reasons to transfer.

However, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for transferring. Consider the following factors when determining whether a transfer is the right decision for you.

Financial Necessity

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Unfortunately, some students simply can’t afford to finish a degree at their original college. If you're feeling money pressure, be sure to talk to a financial aid officer and your extended family before making a transfer decision. The long-term rewards of a quality bachelor’s degree might outweigh the short-term financial inconvenience of taking out additional loans or finding a part-time job. Also, realize that a transfer to a less expensive school may not actually save you money. Learn about the hidden costs of transferring before you make any decisions.

Academic Upgrade

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If you've been feeling unchallenged at your school for quite some time and feel like your high grades might score admission to a significantly better school, it might be time to transfer. Many students at community colleges transfer after a year or two to universities in order to save time and money.

More prestigious colleges tend to offer better educational and career opportunities, but you need to be prepared for a significant shift in difficulty. Try taking harder classes before deciding to transfer. Often, high grades at lower-ranked schools are much better received than barely passing grades at higher-ranked schools.

Specialized Majors

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If you realize in your first year or two of college that you want to be a marine biologist, you might want to transfer to a school near the ocean. Transferring to a different school because your desired major is not available to you is a great option, but will require you to do a little digging. If your major is highly specialized, there might be only a few schools offering it. Find a school that has what you're looking for and find out about transferring credits.

Family

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Sometimes family emergencies must take priority over school. It might make sense to transfer if a family member becomes sick and you want to be closer to them. Of course, talk to your dean first—many schools offer leaves of absence instead and this is likely a simpler solution. Also, be careful not to confuse a true family emergency with anything less critical than continuing your education, such as homesickness or an empty-nest parent who wants you closer to home.

Social Situation

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A college's social scene doesn't always turn out to be what you expected, but that's only a good reason to transfer in some cases. Perhaps the seven-day-a-week party scene isn’t for you but it's pervasive enough that you can't focus. When the party culture of your school proves detrimental to your health and/or studies, consider transferring.

In general, don't transfer just because you’d like a more active social life. College isn’t just about the academics, but don’t be hasty—make sure the social group you’re looking for doesn’t exist at your current school because there's no guarantee that it will somewhere else. Try changing your habits to meet new people and explore new hobbies before changing schools.

Poor Reasons to Transfer

Just as there are many good reasons to transfer, there are also many questionable ones. Think twice before transferring for any of these reasons.

Relationships

Having a relationship isn't a negative, but it can be a bad reason for changing schools. If you're considering transferring to be with your partner, ask yourself: Would I still be happy at the new school if this relationship were to end? Your relationship isn't guaranteed to last but a college degree will change your life forever.

Before you make any decisions, remember that college takes up only about 30 weeks of the year. With the help of summers, breaks, and a few weekend visits, a strong relationship can survive the distance.

Your School Is Too Hard

College isn't supposed to be easy. Most new college students struggle with their classes—that goes for transfer students too. The expectations in college are much higher than in high school and calculus is calculus wherever you go. If you want to succeed in college, don't run away from challenges by fleeing to an "easier" school. Instead, take advantage of resources available to you to boost your grades.

Homesickness

This is a tough one as the pain of separation and feelings of isolation can be overwhelming. Realize, however, that an essential part of college is learning how to live on your own. Nearly all first-year students deal with homesickness in one form or another, so you're probably better off learning to cope than giving up. If you find, however, that you’re paralyzed by homesickness, visit your college’s counseling center and call home often before filling out transfer applications.

Roommate

Nothing can make college more miserable than a lousy roommate, but lousy roommates can be found on any college campus. If you’ve tried with no success to work out problems with a roommate, talk to your RA about a change and/or contact conflict resolution centers. If a roommate switch isn’t possible, try to stick it out until it's time to select a new roommate for the upcoming academic year.

You Don't Like Your Professors

Every college has professors with questionable credentials and teachers that seem like they'd be anywhere other than the classroom, but instructors like this shouldn't be your reason to transfer. Luckily, some of this problem can be avoided by choosing classes wisely. Talk with upper-class students and consult faculty evaluation guides before choosing your classes and remember that every professor will only be in your life for a short period of time.

All in all, weak faculty only warrants a transfer when it is a recurring issue. Make sure your dissatisfaction is really due to bad professors and not because you are failing to put in the effort necessary to make classes rewarding.