What I Wish I Knew Before Transferring Colleges

What I Wish I Knew Before Transferring Colleges

Deciding on the right college often comes with an overwhelming mixture of emotions. And because the decision is such an impactful one, it can be scary to realize that it might not have been the right one for your life. Because we know that transferring schools can be confusing and just plain hard, we reached out to our community to ask them about their experiences. Ahead, they share what they wish they’d known before they transferred and their advice to those who are thinking about making the leap.

I sort of regret going with the first school I saw that ‘looked pretty good’ rather than looking at a bunch of them.

“I started at Marymount Manhattan College. I transferred because I was doing a two-hour commute both ways, and it just got tiring. I really loved the school and being in the city three days a week, but it ended up being too much. I made the decision to go to Montclair because it was more affordable and close enough to home to not mind living on campus! I wish I’d known that it would be more difficult to transition than I thought it would be. Somehow, I figured I’d drop into my new school and make tons of friends right away and find my place. I’m getting there now, but it definitely takes time. Time is key, and that’s important to remember. [For advice], I would say to look at all of your options. I sort of regret going with the first school I saw that ‘looked pretty good’ rather than looking at a bunch of them. Do as much research as you can and make sure you want to transfer.” — Katie Coryell, Montclair State University class of 2019

If you need to switch, you need to switch. Give yourself the grace to do so.

“Before college, I felt a lot of pressure to find the perfect school on the first try. Although transferring was an option, it was one that teachers and community members encouraged me and others to avoid. After I did transfer, however, I realized that my decision to do so didn’t mean my first choice had been a mistake, but rather that I was capable of making new decisions going forward. I think a lot of people feel ashamed about transferring schools because of the stigma that they ‘messed up’ on their first try. In reality, we’re still so young, and our academic needs and interests are always changing. I started out at Emory University, and left the school during my first semester for health reasons. During my medical leave, I re-evaluated why I had been at the school and what I wanted from a college education. I originally chose Emory because I could enjoy the southern weather and run D-III cross country. When I got sick, these things were less important. I realized that the major I wanted to pursue (journalism) was not available at Emory and that, while I loved cross country, I wasn’t going to be a competitive runner my whole life, even once I was in better health. For students who are thinking about transferring, I would say to remind yourself that it’s okay to start again. Like I said before, I think a lot of people feel ashamed about transferring because of the stigma that they “messed up” on their first try. In reality, we’re still so young, and our academic needs and interests are always changing. If you need to switch, you need to switch. Give yourself the grace to do so.” — Claire Wolters, Temple University class of 2020

Even if you are thinking about making the change later on in your college career, it is important to push yourself to do so without listening to those who doubt your decision.

“Although I knew transferring universities my junior year would be beneficial in the long run, I was intimidated by starting anew in the middle of my college career. Criticism from those doubting my decision only worsened my fear of finding my place again. However, I wish I knew to ignore the haters from early on because transferring ended up being the best decision I’ve made on my own so far! I transferred from St. John’s University in Staten Island, NY to Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ. I never felt much of a connection to the people I was around when at St. John’s: however, what really pushed me to leave was the lack of classes specific to my major. A close friend of mine who has been at Monmouth since her freshman year encouraged me to check out the school in the beginning of my sophomore year and after working hard during both of my semesters, I was finally accepted in the spring. Transferring universities is a tedious process. Even nearly a year after officially switching over, I am still getting used to my new school. Even if you are thinking about making the change later on in your college career, it is important to push yourself to do so without listening to those who doubt your decision.” — Christi Ruggiero, Monmouth University class of 2019

I wish that I would have looked further into scholarships schools may offer transfer students.

“I first attended Fisher College in Boston, and I transferred because I didn’t feel like it was the right fit for me. While in the process of transferring schools I wish that I would have looked further into scholarships schools may offer transfer students. Some schools offer really good scholarships just for transferring in if your GPA is good. The school I transferred into gave me $15,000 just for transferring in, which helped a lot. The advice I would give students thinking about transferring would be to do a lot of research on other schools and visit them. Make sure they have everything you are looking for to ensure that you are successful.” — Venesa Coger, University of Bridgeport class of 2018

It’s a hard thing to do, but in the end, you know what’s best for you.

“I wish I’d known that way more people transfer than you think. When I was in the midst of my transfer, it was hard because it kind of felt like I was giving up, which was so not true. I was actually making sacrifices by making an effort to better my life! Even though I had so much fun at my first school, I realized the design program was not as strong as it needed to be, so I made the choice to switch to my current school so that I knew I would be successful in the future. It’s a hard thing to do, but in the end, you know what’s best for you. My original school was Marist College for their four year abroad program in Florence, Italy. I switched because it felt more like study abroad than actual cultural immersion. I wanted to be in a class of people that wouldn’t change every six months. I made the decision based on the above as well as the fact that their fashion program wasn’t super strong. The shows that I was seeing were not what I imagined they would be. So, I started doing my research knowing that I wanted to stay abroad. I went and visited the schools I had in mind and then I was officially accepted to my school, ESMOD, in Paris. I would advise other people wanting to transfer to be prepared for the questions. My parents weren’t super open to the idea to begin with, so I had to be really prepared to present the reasons why I thought this would be better for me. It really helps to show your parents the facts in addition to a feeling you might have of the current situation not being right.” — Anna McLaughlin, ESMOD Paris class of 2019

I wish I’d known that just because I’m not on the traditional path or the same one as my peers, it doesn’t mean my path is any less valid.

“I transferred from Northwest Florida State College in the panhandle of Florida to the University of Florida. It was only a two-year school, so after I got my AA, I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. So, I transferred to a four-year school. I wish I’d known that just because I’m not on the traditional path or the same one as my peers, it doesn’t mean my path is any less valid. My graduation date or my age doesn’t define me as a student or a person, but it’s what I accomplish with my time here that really counts. I honestly just applied to my top schools for journalism and went to the cheapest [for my transfer]. I would [advise other students] not be afraid of transferring, and don’t be afraid to apply to your dream school. Don’t forget to explore all your options. And most importantly, think positively and get ready for an adventure!” — Veronica Quesenberry, University of Florida class of 2018

Have you ever transferred schools? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image by @sammynap.

4 Comments
  1. So helpful! Currently in the process of transferring schools!

  2. I transferred colleges, and I always wished I had had someone to talk to about it before I made the decision. Love that you highlighted these stories for other students going through the same thing!

  3. I transferred recently, and I was forced to start my education all over at a different school, but it ended up working out. I get to take classes I actually enjoy now. These are great tips.

  4. I just transferred this past semester, many told me it was too late since I was already a junior. Despite the negative comments I did transfer and I’m so thankful!

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