Good Reasons to Transfer to a New College

Why a Transfer Might Make Sense

About 30% of college students transfer to a different school at some point. Too often students switch schools for a bad reason and find that the grass is not greener ​after the move. However, there are also many situations in which a transfer to a new college is the right decision.

Financial Necessity

woman crunching numbers at the kitchen table
Geber86 / Getty Images

Unfortunately, some students simply can’t afford to stay at their current college. If you're feeling money pressures, 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 short-term financial inconvenience. Also, realize that a transfer to a less expensive school may not actually save you money.  Learn about the hidden costs of transferring.

Academic Upgrade

A++ grade
photovideostock / Getty Images

Are you not feeling challenged at your current school? Have you earned such high grades that you think you can win admission to a significantly better school? If so, a transfer could be a good idea. A more prestigious college may offer better educational and career opportunities. Realize, however, that being the star of the class at lower-ranked school can bring its own rewards.

Specialized Major

Female scientist inspecting sample of plankton on research ship
Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

If you discover 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. Similarly, if nothing will suit you but a career as a prosthetist, you should transfer to one of the few schools in the country that offers such specialized training.

Family Obligations

Granddaughter visiting grandmother in hospital, bringing bunch of flowers
Westend61 / Getty Images

Sometimes family has to take priority over school. If you need to be close to home because of an ailing family member, a transfer to a different school might make sense. Talk to your Dean first -- ​a leave of absence is sometimes a better solution. Also, be careful not to confuse a true family emergency with homesickness or an empty-nest parent who wants you closer to home.

Social Situation

Girls dancing at a party
MASSIVE / Getty Images

Sometimes the culture at a college turns out to be the opposite of what you wanted. Perhaps the seven-day-a-week party scene isn’t for you. Perhaps the opposite is true -- you’d like a more active social life, but your school seems too serious. In some cases like these, a transfer might make sense. After all, 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. Try a change of friends before a change of school.

Some Bad Reasons to Transfer

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

  • Love: Okay, love isn’t bad, but it can be a bad reason for changing schools. Ask yourself if you’d be happy at the new school if your relationship were to end? Also, don’t forget 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: Most new college students struggle with their classes, and you’ll probably find that any school you go to will have challenging reading and writing assignments. 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, you can’t run away from the challenge. Instead, seek out campus services to help you beef up your academic skills.
  • You're Homesick: This is a tough one. 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. If you find that you’re paralyzed by it, visit your college’s counseling center before you start filling out a transfer application.
  • You Hate Your Roommate: Nothing can make college more miserable than the roommate from hell. But realize that every residential college in the country has students who make lousy roommates. If you’ve tried with no success to work out the problems with your roommate, talk to your RA about a change. If a switch isn’t possible, realize that you can choose a different roommate next year.
  • You Don't Like Your Professors: You're unlikely to ever find a school with no weak teachers. Every college has a few people who never should have been allowed in the classroom. Luckily, you can avoid these train wrecks by choosing classes wisely. Talk with upper-class students and consult faculty evaluation guides before choosing your classes in the future. On the other hand, if all the faculty in your major are weak, that’s a situation that might merit a transfer. Make sure your dissatisfaction is really because your teachers are bad, not because you are failing to put in the effort necessary to make classes rewarding.