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Finding Your Fit: Tips for Transferring Colleges

I want to transfer colleges, but I’m not sure where I should apply next.

You’re not the only college student who’s had this thought. Should you attend a school similar to the one you’re currently enrolled in or should you apply to an institution that’s completely different? There’s a lot to consider when it comes to transferring colleges, and ultimately where you decide to continue your education really depends on what your current college is missing and what you hope to gain at another.

Degree Programs

Whether you are declaring a major for the first time, changing degree programs, or want to remain in the same program at another school, degree program offerings should be top of mind when contemplating a transfer. The number of degree programs a college offers typically depends on its size. Naturally, larger institutions will have more programs, though many small colleges have a decent range to choose from. How common or niche your degree program is may determine what colleges you should consider transferring to.

Class Size

Everyone has preferences when it comes to their education. Some students learn better in smaller classes with more attention from professors, whereas others don’t mind being in a larger class with less one-on-one time with instructors. You should have an idea of your learning needs before you apply to transfer. Think about your current college classes. What are your likes and dislikes? Is there anything about them that is holding you back or driving your need for change? Answering these questions can give you a better idea of where you should transfer, especially since faculty to student ratio differs. For example, Villa Maria College offers a 8:1 student-faculty ratio.

Advisor Accessibility

Every college or university links students with an academic advisor. This is usually someone in your degree program’s department. That being said, how easily and how often you are able to communicate with an advisor vastly differs on school size. Advisors at larger schools have to work with many more students than their counterparts at smaller campuses. Just like attention in the classroom, you likely won’t get the same amount of time with an advisor at a large college compared to a smaller one. If you value time with an advisor, that may factor into your transfer choice.

Housing Options

About half of all college students live on campus. The other half live off-campus and commute. Most colleges provide their students with some kind of housing options. Some even require first-year students to live on campus. Campus size usually dictates how many accommodations are available, as well as whether those options are on-campus or off. The more students a college has, the more likely they will have several dorm and campus apartments available, whereas smaller schools may only have off-campus partnerships for housing. If you plan to live in student housing, make sure you are aware of on-campus and off-campus accommodations before deciding to transfer.

Social Scene

If academics are the prime reason students attend college, the social aspect may be a close second. College is likely the first time that you’ve been on your own, meeting new people from all walks of life and learning about their perspectives. There are pros and cons to different social atmospheres. Larger schools have more students, meaning tons of clubs, events, and happenings. For some, this is a huge draw. However, a bustling social environment can become a distraction for some students and affect their performance in the classroom. For others, big schools may be overwhelming.

Smaller colleges have fewer students, but they still have student organizations and gatherings. There may also be a greater sense of community and fewer social temptations that could impact academic success. Think about how you have performed at your current school and how you’ve fit in socially when thinking about what kind of school to transfer to.