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Should I Consider Transferring to a New School?

Dec 16, 2020

So you’ve given your current school a chance, yet something still doesn’t feel right. Whether it’s the lack of a specific major you desire or the woefully unsupportive faculty, you have an unshakeable inkling that the school on your sweatshirt won’t unite you with your long-term goals. It’s not a matter of gym amenities or cafeteria food for you, but the intellectual enrichment and personal growth you want to acquire in the next 3-4 years.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be miserable to have a valid reason to transfer. Transferring is a matter of optimizing fit more than anything else, so logical analysis of your options, self-aware introspection of your goals, and careful identification of what’s best for you in the long run should take precedence in the decision-making process. 

Do your intellectual interests, passions and goals authentically resonate with the offerings of your current school? Ask yourself these 5 questions to find out!

1. Does this school have the specific major or program I need for my dream career?

From UPenn’s Huntsman Program for international Studies and Business to Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, some schools offer impressively niche intersectional majors and programs that may perfectly embody your interests, passions and dream career field. Instead of the presence of the program drawing you to another school, however, it could also be the presence of a curricular facet at your current school that drives you to transfer. Cumbersome distributional requirements at your liberal arts school, for example, could be complicating your rigorous pre-medicine journey to the detriment of your grades and sleep. Whether it be in a positive or negative sense, if your academic appetites don’t align with your current school’s offerings, it may well be time to transfer.

2. Do the professors and typical difficulty levels of courses match my learning goals?

So maybe the actual major or program you crave is offered by your current institution, but the professors teach in a way that doesn’t parallel your learning style or objectives. Maybe the class sizes are so big that office hours are scarce, the course material proves nauseatingly unchallenging for you, or the classes progress at a pace too unwieldy for your detail-oriented learning style. Whether the classes be too hard or too easy, however, either issue could be counterproductive to your intellectual development, so take the time to consider whether or not you are being adequately challenged in your college experience as you consider transferring.

3. Is the student body supportive of my growth?

Do you feel the nation-like magnitude of your school’s student body should warrant you a dual-citizenship you never wanted? Or does your school’s tiny community feel suffocating to your social life? The gravity of your current school community’s size and nature may seem like a small consideration at first glance, but it could impact your life monumentally both inside and outside of the classroom.

In terms of the student body’s character, are your classmates accepting or non-accepting? Extroverted or reticent? Homogeneous or diverse? Depending on your personal values or identity, you may face isolation rather than rejection at your current school, an intangible feeling with tangible consequences. Not feeling valued, accepted or included at school can distract you from your studies and ultimately impede you in the path towards your degree, so why not transfer to an environment that allows you to thrive, not just survive?

4. Do these extracurricular offerings satiate my hunger for learning outside of the classroom?

From research labs to student groups, dance troupes to intramural sports teams, socialization and challenge outside of the classroom contributes as much to your growth as an individual as your learning inside of the classroom. You deserve a school that offers you opportunities aligned with the matters that excite you most, be they robotics clubs, machine learning labs or specialized writing workshops, so consider a transfer if your school’s engaging learning opportunities stop at the classroom walls. 

5. Is the location of this school ideal for my happiness and personal development?

Finally, location is a subtle yet ambient component of your college experience, so it shouldn’t escape consideration in the transfer discussion. Your grievance could include the weather, internship types and availability, or even off-campus volunteer opportunities. If you’re interested in the world of finance, for example, you may dream of taking advantage of New York City’s opportunities not found on your Madison-located campus. Similarly, Stanford may be slightly better located than Houston if you’re interested in renewable energy as an academic focus. 

The city or town in which your college resides can ultimately shape you in ways you may not even realize, so choose wisely and stay attuned to your satisfaction with your choice throughout the year! Whether your sleepy southern college enervates you, the big city overstimulates your mind, or you’re simply homesick and would prefer greater proximity to your loved ones, you shouldn’t shy away from pursuing a more optimal learning environment in the transfer process.

A Meaningful Decision

Transferring is a tough decision, but a meaningful one that could ultimately change the trajectory of your life. No one deserves to be trapped in an environment detrimental to their growth, be it academic, personal, or both, so be sure to prioritize your future before anything else this application season. If you think you might want to transfer, be sure to check out our guide on how to transfer into your dream school.

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