In many ways, higher education has turned into a marketing game, with colleges and universities across the country competing for students’ tuition dollars. Each school has its individual talking points that it likes to advertise — great pre-med program, outstanding study abroad, competitive athletics — but all colleges and universities must do one important thing to lure students in: convince them that they will be motivated, successful and happy at their school of choice.
A report by the National Student Clearing House Research Center finds that “one-third of all students transferred at least once within five years before earning a degree,” indicating that a huge number of students are dissatisfied with their original choice of school for higher education, or that they enrolled in one school with the intention of eventually transferring somewhere else (Education Week). There are dozens of reasons to transfer schools– but how can you use the transfer for your benefit?
The Well-Planned Transfer
As college costs continue to rise, a smart and well-timed transfer is a great way to save some money. Two years at an inexpensive community college can get a lot of general education requirements out of the way, allowing you to transfer to a four-year university and focus solely on classes for his or her major. And while transferring credits from one college to another can be tricky, transfer students are now so common that most institutions have experience with the process.
Another way to use a transfer to your advantage is to override mediocre high school grades. If you have your heart set on attending a prestigious university but don’t have the grades to get in right out of high school, a year or two of outstanding performance at a less selective college could convince the admissions counselors at your dream school that you are good enough to be admitted after all. High-quality transfer students are of increasing interest to prestigious schools around the country.
The Unintended Transfer
Clearly, a lot of students transfer because they are unhappy at their first choice of college. Social, academic, and health issues are all common reasons for students to drop out or transfer. Even if you feel like you must transfer schools because of an unanticipated problem, the change could very well be for your benefit. Taking a year off to work, travel, or pursue volunteer opportunities is a great option for students who find themselves in over their heads during the first year of college.
Another common reason to transfer is because of changing academic interests. If you went into college to become a doctor but then decide to pursue interior design instead, don’t hesitate to find a school that better fits your needs. Transferring schools is not a sign of failure, and many people are better off after transferring than they would have been if they stuck it out at their first school.
What are your thoughts on transfer students? Is transferring just another aspect of self-designed education, much like online classes and individual majors?