Sometimes a teen picks the wrong school, or maybe not.
by Anne Vaccaro Brady
There are many reasons why freshman want to transfer colleges. Listen carefully to what yours is saying and you’ll understand whether a change of scenery is the right move. Here are some scenarios you might hear.
Academics are too hard or too easy If your student is a bit overwhelmed by their course load, the problem could be poor study habits, an unbalanced schedule or a lack of interest in their classes. Changing schools won’t fix these problems. College is harder than high school. That’s a fact. Freshmen need to check out campus support services including tutoring, meeting regularly with their academic adviser and attending their freshman seminar where they’ll learn about improving and developing their study habits and time management skills.
Students bored by too many easy courses might need a college that offers a more challenging curriculum for their major. Not all programs are created equal. This is a legitimate reason to consider transferring.
A preferred major isn’t offered Your freshman went into college undecided, but now they know what they want to study. Unfortunately, the program is not offered at their current school, only available as a minor or not one of the college’s strongest. Any of these is a reason to switch.
Social life I say all colleges can be labeled party schools, but some have a stronger “social scene” than others. The kid who doesn’t get into that or who finds an active campus too distracting may need a school where there’s less to do, particularly on weeknights, and/or students make studying their main priority.
The reverse can also be a problem for kids used to being busy, especially on weekends. Boredom only makes a college less appealing.
Another issue is fitting in. Now that they’re on campus every day, some teens might find few if any students who share their interests.
All of the above are valid reasons to transfer.
Homesickness This is a tricky one. Students having a hard time living away from home might end up dangerously depressed. If talking with a campus counselor isn’t helping, they’ll need to leave and commute to a college or find one not as far away.
Then there are the freshmen who don’t know how to make new friends, and hide out with their laptops or smartphones, constantly scanning social media, following what’s happening with their friends from home. A big part of college is putting yourself out there and making the effort to meet new people and have new experiences. Some kids refuse to try. Others try but can’t make it work. Figure out which applies to your freshman before letting them start the transfer paperwork.
Long-distance relationships cause problems, too. When their girlfriend or boyfriend is still at home or at a different college, students often feel compelled to transfer. Sometimes the person they’re dating pressures them to make the move. Discuss what your teen will be giving up by changing colleges: a great program, a nice financial aid package and/or some cool new friends, among other things. The question to ask is if the relationship is worth the sacrifices.
When college negatively impacts a student’s mental health, it’s time to seriously consider a transfer.
Financial issues College is expensive, and now that your teen is actually experiencing it, they might decide they don’t want to be laden with all that debt. Or they’ve figured out they can’t manage working so many hours to make the money necessary to pay for college and keep up on their coursework.
As the parents, your overall financial situation might have changed and you can’t afford to help pay for this school next year. Talk with the financial aid office before making a decision and then be honest with your student about your situation.
Transferring to a more affordable college can relieve the stress on all of you.
The top-choice school is still on their mind If your teen had their heart set on going to that one college where they were wait-listed or rejected, let them apply as a transfer student. They deserve the chance.
There are many reasons teens consider transferring colleges. As a family, work to find the the best solution for your student.
Next week’s post will look at the transfer process and some issues your student might face by going that route.
Share your thoughts and experiences on why kids want to transfer colleges in the comments section below.