One school in particular presented a particularly attractive financial offer - as in-state resident with qualifying grades, I could go there for practically nothing.
I asked my parents, "Would it be easier for the family if I based my decision on money? Should I go to the school that costs the least?"
My father replied, "I want you to go wherever you want to go, regardless of money."
"However," he added, "You better make sure you like it, because once you're choose, you're stuck there for the next four years. I am not paying for you to transfer anywhere."
I took his words seriously, and picked Notre Dame, fairly confident I could be happy there (and I was).
That said, most of us - my father included - acknowledge that there are situations when a student would benefit enormously from transferring schools.
The most common time for transfer applications is after your freshman year, after you've had enough time to discern if your desire to find another school is warranted.
If you're struggling with the decision to leave your current university, read on for 6 reasons why it might make sense for you to change colleges next semester.
There is no shame in basing your choice of school partially on financial considerations. If you need a more affordable option, start looking at schools with a lower price tag.
A Need For Different or Increased Program Options
In the event that you start to feel limited or pigeonholed into a course of study that stops feeling "right" - especially when it has long-term ramifications for your professional objectives - it's perfectly reasonable to consider transferring schools.
Desire For A More (Or Less) Rigorous Academic Setting
(That said, don't give up at the sign of the first C, or even a few bad grades. See below on reasons not to transfer.)
Your Family Needs You
You No Longer Feel Safe Or Able To Function At Your Current School
However, if something about the campus makes you feel fundamentally unsafe, vulnerable, depressed to the point of being incapable of functioning, or just plain unwelcome, these are valid (and important!) reasons to look for another school.
This Was Always The Plan...
Perhaps you wanted a year or two to save money at a less expensive school, before moving to the college you want to obtain your degree from.
Or you wanted to get your bearings at a community college and live at home, before striking out on your own, now more confident in your ability to succeed in a more rigorous program.
If this was your plan all along, don't get complacent. Transferring schools can be part of a larger strategic plan that ultimately contributes to your academic and professional goals.
A rough start academically
- A C in Freshman Biology does not spell doom for your academic career. Investigate and exhaust your options for additional academic support through your advisor, professors, TAs, and on-campus tutoring centers before throwing in the towel and declaring the school "too hard" for you to continue there.
Trouble making friends
- I didn't make a real friend until the end of my freshman year, and I didn't feel like I had a solid group until halfway through my sophomore. Some people are great at turning new people into friends immediately, while others, like myself, take time to find the roommates and classmates they genuinely enjoy spending time with, identify with, and trust.
This guy / girl you like is at another school...
- So you met an interesting someone over the summer and now you can't shake the idea that you two might be great together? Fair enough. Connect over Skype, email, letters, and planned visits during your breaks. Do not, however, pull out of school just to test where the relationship is possibly going.
- I promise you, it is completely normal to feel this way, especially during your first year. If you have moved some distance away from your family, left most or all of your friends, and jumped into a challenging university program, chances are there is going to be a period of adjustment. You might feel homesick, anxious about your academic performance, and concerned about your social prospects. Hang in there, and consult on-campus resources, including academic and personal counseling, if you need additional support.
Meanwhile, contact the academic and financial reps from the schools you potentially want to transfer into, to make sure you understand how your grades, money situation, and social environment stand to change.
There are plenty of scenarios where it makes sense to switch colleges. Honor your academic, professional, social, and emotional needs and make a decision that feels both sustainable and productive for you.