College Transfers Dec10

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College Transfers

What do you do when you get that call from your college student saying they want to transfer to another school? Whether it is the first semester of freshman year, sometime during sophomore year when they must declare a major, or after attending a community college, there are many reasons a student may want to transfer.

Maybe they don’t feel they fit in with the school community. Or just can’t deal with the difference in climate. Maybe they’ve decided they want to be closer to home, or are now finally ready to move away. Some students choose to transfer to a more selective school that was out of reach to them when they applied from high school. Others need to transfer after deciding on their major, to a school that offers the courses they need.

The reasons are different for each student. But they are most definitely not alone. Approximately one-third of all college students transfer before they graduate.

Before they begin the transfer process, talk to your student and try to pin down the real reasons they believe they chose the wrong college. This can help not only in finding a better fit, but also in assessing whether transferring will address the real issues. If they are set on transferring, there are several things your college student should look into and consider:

  • If they are considering transferring after freshman year, and are considering a school they were accepted to but declined, have your student contact the school and find out if they still have a place for them. Many schools will hold a student’s spot for a year, including any scholarship money offered.
  • College grades will be extremely important. Although colleges will look at high school grades and SAT/ACT scores if your student is looking to transfer during or after freshman year, the farther away from high school your student is at the time of transfer, the less important are high school grades and tests. Colleges want to see that the student can be successful in college.
  • Find out which classes will be accepted for credit at the other colleges. This may be an issue if your student wants to graduate in four years.
  • The process for transfer applicants is very similar to the process when they first applied to college – filling out applications and writing essays. The deadlines for submitting the applications, and the acceptances dates however, are very different.
  • Look into housing options for transfer students at the other colleges. Do sophomores or juniors live in the dorms? At many schools, off-campus housing is generally secured almost a year in advance, making it more of a challenge for a transfer student to secure off-campus housing.
  • If your student is involved in Greek life, they’ll want to find out if the sorority or fraternity has a house at the other colleges and be aware that the same fraternities and sororities can have very different personalities and reputations at different schools. Once initiated into a particular house, your student may not be able to rush again and join a different house at another school.
  • If your student is transferring from a community college, and plans to transfer to a four-year college as a junior, be sensitive to the fact that they may feel like they have arrived late to the party. If they want to live in the dorms, and it is available, or want to join in Greek life, encourage them to take full advantage of all opportunities.
  • Advise them to get involved on campus and make the most of the time they do have at their current college. They may just find something they did not consider previously — an experience that changes their mind about transferring altogether, even after submitting their transfer applications.

Making a decision about where your student wants to spend the next four or more years of their life – from both an academic and social perspective – can be difficult for a high school kid.  They may not really know if they made the right choice until they actually get there and experience campus life.  If transferring schools will increase your student’s happiness and improve their chances of graduating and fulfilling their dreams, then it just might be the perfect decision.


Want to know more?

College Admissions: Freshmen Blues – What’s A Parent to Do?

A Third of Students Transfer Before Graduating, and Many Head Toward Community Colleges by Jennifer Gonzalez

Transfer Students: 8 Things You Need to Know by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

5 Keys to a Successful January College Transfer by Bradford Holmes



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