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Reasons to Transfer Colleges (and Factors to Consider)

About a third of students transfer colleges at some point. There are many reasons students decide to make the switch, whether it be academic dissatisfaction, lack of cultural fit, a shift from a community college to a four-year institution, or a change in personal circumstances. Still, it’s important to remember that transferring colleges is a pretty big move and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re thinking about transferring colleges, there are a few factors to consider before you officially make the leap.

You’re Not Excelling Academically

Many students decide to transfer because they aren’t doing as well academically as they could be. This isn’t due to a lack of talent, but often a misalignment between what the student needs, what their goals are, and what the campus offers. Some students may attend a large university thinking they’ll like attending class in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students only to end up struggling in that learning environment. Others may start their program only to find that it’s too challenging or not challenging enough and feel like a change is necessary for them to be the best they can be. Switching to a new school may be exactly what a student needs to perform to their best ability.

You’re Not Comfortable on Campus

Whether you commute or live on campus, it’s important to enjoy spending time there. Regardless of how big or small a school is, how many students attend, or how many clubs and activities there are, students should feel comfortable both studying and socializing on campus. If there’s an imbalance in either one of these areas, it can have negative effects. Let’s say you enjoy your classes but haven’t found a community of friends or colleagues on campus. That can feel very isolating and start to affect your academic performance. In other cases, some students might feel homesick being away from their families or just not enjoy the atmosphere or extracurriculars. All of these factors impact personal well-being, which is important for a successful college experience.

You Want to Change Your Major

Many students base their college selection on what major they plan to pursue. But just because a student starts the year on one path doesn’t mean that their interests and goals will stay the same, especially as horizons widen. Nearly a third of college students actually change their major at least once within three years of the start of their college career! Sometimes that switch means that the school they initially chose is no longer a good fit for their academic needs, whether the institution offers the new degree program or not.

You’re Transferring from Community College

Community colleges are a great starting point for many students. They’re an affordable option to get prerequisite courses out of the way, and they usually have flexible schedules and course options. However, many students that attend community colleges opt to transfer to four-year institutions in order to get the “full” college experience or pursue a four-year degree.

What to Consider Before You Transfer

Making the move from one college to another is a big deal. It can be a really positive experience, but there are some things to think about before you officially choose to transfer.

Are Your Grades High Enough?

Grades aren’t the only admission factor that colleges review, but it is one of the most important. Colleges have GPA requirements for transfers just like other incoming students. Be sure to review all admission requirements set by the institution you’re interested in applying to in order to confirm your eligibility.

How Much Will it Cost?

Cost can be a major area of concern when it comes to transferring schools. This really comes down to how much your previous college costs, how much financial aid or how many scholarships you received there, and how much your transfer choice costs. Transferring schools may mean that you lose out on scholarships or some financial aid like work-study programs. However, there are cases where your transfer choice may be more affordable. Before making any final decisions, speak with financial aid counselors who can help you find answers to some of these questions.

Can You Still Graduate On Time?

Most students aim to complete a bachelor’s degree in four years from the time they begin college. As a transfer student, it’s possible you might need to be at your new college longer than that original timeline. This is usually because colleges that accept transfer students have a limit on how many credits can be carried over from the previous school. For example, Villa Maria College allows 45 credits to transfer to an associate degree program and 90 credits for a bachelor’s degree program.

Is It the Right Time?

There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” time to transfer, but when you transfer does matter. Many students choose to transfer after the first one to two years since prerequisite courses are out of the way and they are still early on in their chosen degree program. If you do plan on transferring, you may need to plan ahead and apply at a new school a semester before you want to start there. However, there are some colleges that have rolling admissions, meaning there’s no pressure to meet an admission deadline.