After being on campus for a couple months now, some college freshmen might be realizing they picked the wrong school.
Transferring colleges may not have been in the game plan, but it’s extremely common among college students for a variety of reasons. From social expectations to changed majors or family struggles, students may decide to leave their current institution in hopes of finding a better fit.
“There are so many variables that come into play, and a lot of kids will start their college career as a freshman and just find it’s not the right match,” says Jeannie Borin, president and founder of College Connections, LLC.
Before making any decisions, students need to identify what they don’t like about their school and how a transfer might resolve the problem, says Elizabeth Heaton, senior director, Educational Consulting at College Coach. Knowing why they want to transfer will also help students during the application process because many schools want a separate essay about the decision.
“’I hate my school’ isn’t a good answer,” Heaton says. “You have to fully have it in your head why you want to transfer, and they will probably be looking for a positive attitude.”
Here is a checklist of questions every college student should ask before filling out new school applications:
Do you have the transfer school’s prerequisites met? Some schools want transfer students to have certain prerequisites met before they are accepted.
“If you don’t have them met, you won’t get in,” Heaton says. “You should take the time to get these done, in order to be a better applicant.”
Will your credits transfer? Borin suggests finding out what credits will actually transfer over so that your hard work--and not mention, money--isn’t wasted.
“Many loose credits by transferring and have to pay for an extra year to finish college,” she says.
Are you prepared to go at this alone? During the first application rounds in high school, guidance counselors and parents tend to help guide student through the application process—that probably won’t be the case the second time around.
“If you transfer, you have to do most of the leg work yourself,” Heaton says. “You also may have to get a progress report filled out, and they will want to hear from every teacher in the classes you are currently enrolled in to be sure your performance is satisfactory.”
How long will it take you to graduate? Even if all of your credits are accepted, Heaton says it’s still possible not to graduate on time. Take into consideration what you need to do before graduating and figure out how much work you have ahead of you before making your decision.
“You may have all of the prerequisites filled, but may have to take courses on their campus,” she says. “You may not be able to fit these in in just a year or a semester.”
Are you re-applying to a school you didn’t get accepted to? If this is the case, you have to make sure your new application is better, and more importantly, different, than the your original application.
“Remember there is a reason you didn’t get in,” Heaton says. “You need an entirely new application.”
What is the new school’s transfer acceptance rate? Many schools aren’t as open to adding transfer students, says Borin, so keep your options in perspective. “They just may not have a high rate of transfer acceptance,” she says. “Some schools have under 3% transfer acceptance rates.”