Transferring has become a hot topic in the current COVID-19 world. Maybe your student is considering a transfer to a smaller private college that is closer to home and has in-person classes, or a transfer to an in-state university, where at least if the student is learning remotely, you won’t be paying the high tuition of a private school. Or maybe the student just made the wrong choice.
According to a study published by the Department of Education, as many as 60 percent of students attend more than one college before graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Hopefully most do it for the right reasons. Here are some common (but not great) reasons that students want to transfer.
I’ve heard the rationale work both ways. Either they went to college with their boyfriend/girlfriend and have now broken up and can’t stand to be on the same campus with them, or they are traveling every weekend to their sweetheart’s college and decide they “might as well go there.” Neither a broken heart at your home campus nor a romance elsewhere is a good reason to uproot your academic career.
School is too hard
It is very common for freshmen to struggle with time-management issues. Students who coasted through high school and now find themselves at very competitive colleges may be surprised at the level of commitment it takes to keep pace. Expectations are higher for students, and there are no moms hanging around reminding students that the project assigned two weeks ago is due tomorrow. Almost all colleges offer an array of student academic services that range from free tutoring to writing centers. Students need to face these challenges and figure out how to succeed. Sometimes when students transfer because they felt swamped by work, they’re surprised that their problems follow them to the next college.
Just not feeling the vibe
This is the catch-all category that can include:
- Horrible roommate: An unhappy roommate situation is challenging because it is something students have to deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes finding other friends on the same floor and spending as little time as possible in the room is the best solution.
- Administrative red tape: Since most campuses now have online class registration, you can regale your students with the “when we went to college” stories of camping out the night before at the registrar’s office. If that doesn’t work, tell them to take a chill pill. This is not grounds for transferring.
- Terrible food: It may not be mom’s cooking, but college cafeterias have endless options to make meals healthier.
- Large classes/bad professors: Big lecture classes with professors who don’t recognize students are very common in freshman year. Make sure your students do their best to change it up next semester.
- Being homesick: Don’t diminish their thoughts. While these are very real feelings, this too will pass.
Generally, the above items are symptoms of students not connecting socially with their peers. It's not that these aren’t valid issues; it's just that many of them are temporary, and most can be resolved with a resident adviser intervention, and some of these issues typically end up disappearing within a few weeks.
These are the perfect reasons a student should talk to his or her academic adviser, resident adviser or someone at the counseling center on campus. Rather than throwing in the towel, teaching students that they have the capacity to deal with and overcome these issues is an incredibly valuable life lesson.
Lee Shulman Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. Visit her website College Admissions Strategies.