Should I Stay or Should I Go? With a new college semester around the corner, you may be wondering if a transfer will result in a better college experience. If so, you may be among the 37.5% of college students who transferred at least once during their college careers. The reasons for seeking a transfer may be as varied as each of the individuals applying for a spot at a new school, but they most likely fall into one of these categories: 1. Health: physical or mental health issues make a transfer necessary 2. Financial: student can no longer afford to stay 3. Social: current school does not seem like a good social fit 4. Academic: current school is too hard or not challenging enough 5. Homesickness: missing home or significant others 6. You began your higher education journey at a 2-year college and are ready to succeed at a 4-year school First, lets chat about what you need to do to become a successful transfer candidate. #1. Make the best of your time at your current college. Hit the books hard and demonstrate that you are a strong student. Even if you had a stellar academic record in high school, potential transfer colleges will be considering your college academic performance first. Attend every class, go for tutoring if you need it and participate in study groups. Your college GPA (even though it may not transfer to your new college) will matter more than your high school GPA. #2. Develop strong relationships with at least 2 of your professors. Professors hold office hours because they really want to get to know their students, so take advantage of this opportunity. In order to be a successful transfer candidate you will need very strong letters of recommendations. #3. What a strong letter of recommendation should say: “To Whom it may concern, I reluctantly write this letter because I do not want our college community to lose _________ as a student. He has demonstrated exceptional commitment to mastering the complex concepts taught in my class, but most importantly, he has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the success of his classmates. I have observed the manner in which he genuinely interacts with other students during class discussion and his participation in group projects clearly raises the bar for all involved. In my many personal discussions with him it is evident he is passionately involved in the improvement of our college community…….” This kind of recommendation letter can only be earned by a student who gives it his or her all at the college community they currently inhabit. #4. Get involved in your college community from Day 1. It is crucial that you demonstrate in your transfer applications your willingness to contribute to your community and that you demonstrate leadership abilities beyond high school. If you follow these four steps, two things will happen; *your overall college experience will be better and you may find that your current college is indeed a good fit. or *you will earn the kind of track record that will provide you options as a successful transfer candidate. Lets honestly examine the reason(s) you wish to transfer. A higher education journey that begins at a 2-year college is a great option for many students who wish to make college more affordable, optimize their transition to college life, or may have family obligations or personal reasons to stay closer to home at first. Many community colleges and 4 year colleges are working closely together to create a path for students that helps them thrive in college and beyond. All colleges that accept transfer students welcome students from 2-year colleges. Health and safety come first. If your physical or mental health create insurmountable challenges, be sure to discuss this with your parents and support system. Seek help from student services and focus on your health and safety. Requesting a leave of absence may be the best solution but be sure you and your parents understand the college’s policies for readmission. Develop a plan of treatment with trusted professionals. If financial restrictions are forcing a transfer, be sure to explore every option at your current school. Meet with a financial aid officer and explore available grants, loans, work-study program or a short leave of absence so you can work and save some money. Leave no stone unturned. Sometimes transferring may lead to additional time needed to complete a degree which will add to the overall cost. If you feel that your current school is not a good social fit, get involved in at least 2 student groups that share your interests. No college is ever going to be perfect and chances are you will always find other students like you if you look in the right place. If the academic environment at your school is truly not the right fit, then a transfer may be the best option. Thoroughly examine your academic and professional goals first. Are you finding your classes too difficult because your chosen area of study does not align with your strengths? Did you choose a major because of family expectations or because you truly want to study nuclear engineering? Are you finding that your current college does not offer the academic rigor that you need in order to accomplish your goal of attending medical school? Is your ultimate goal to become a broadcast journalist and your college just eliminated this program? Academic fit is a valid reason to explore a transfer but first you must demonstrate that you gave it your best effort. The transition to college can be very hard and many students feel homesick at times. Give yourself some time to adjust (but don’t just sit in your room watching Netflix…get involved). The pressures of leaving a boyfriend or girlfriend back at home can be hard to handle, but the college transition is also a transition into adulthood. My suggestion to you; resist the urge to go home every weekend and please don’t give up an amazing opportunity at an amazing school because you miss your boyfriend too much. I know from my own experience, this often does not end well. TIP #1: Stay in touch with your high school college counselor and favorite teacher. They will need to send in your official transcripts and hopefully strong letters of recommendation if you earned them during high school. TIP #2; Most transfer applications are due on March 1 or April 1. A good number of colleges accept transfer students for the spring semester, so these deadlines will be different. If you seek to transfer during your first year of college this means that your academic performance and community involvement from your first semester will carry the most weight. Your best strategy may be to transfer out as a sophomore (a few colleges offer a spring semester transfer policy). While the majority of your credits may transfer, your GPA does not. If you are considering graduate school, you will need to carefully plan the rest of your college years.