The decision to transfer colleges isn't something to take lightly. Depending on your institution and specific circumstances, transferring can be complicated and cause you to lose credits or even your financial aid. That said, you shouldn't have to stay at an institution that isn't fulfilling your needs.
A college education is one of the few things we don't treat like other purchased goods or services, despite the high cost and the heavy time investment involved. You're paying a lot to go to school. In exchange for that money, you deserve a great education and opportunities to learn and build a foundation to launch your professional career.
So, how do you know whether your college is right for you? You'll need to do some soul-searching. But to start, here are a few things you can look for.
Sign #1: You’re Not Being Challenged
If your high school had a good college prep program or you were in AP classes, there's a chance some of your prerequisite classes aren't super challenging (especially those you take freshman year). But you're wasting your time and money if you're not learning anything. Even worse, you could find yourself unprepared when your graduate and start looking for a job.
If coasting through classes is your present reality, talk to your professors about higher-level courses or what you can expect in the coming semesters. If you can't find enough academic rigor where you are, looking for a college or university that better suits your needs may be worthwhile.
Sign #2: There Aren’t Many Opportunities Outside of the Classroom
We're not afraid to say it. Students often get the most from hands-on learning opportunities. Internships, study abroad programs, or clubs in your area of study offer a crucial addition to what's taught in a classroom.
For that reason, you'll want to participate in at least one internship and contribute something significant to a club or activity before graduating. These activities can put you at the top of a resume stack. The more you can show real-world experiences on your resume post-graduation, the easier it should be to get a job.
This is where location can come into play. Attending a college in or near a large, bustling city often offers a broader range of internship opportunities. With so many businesses closely clustered together, there's usually a better chance to get that hands-on experience.
But this isn't true for all areas of study. For example, if you're looking to major in marine biology, you'll likely want to attend a university near a large water body. Or, if agriculture is your thing, then you can't beat the Midwest or even one of the outstanding schools in Texas or Oklahoma.
All this to say, if you're currently without access to opportunities, it might be time to find a school where your interests and industry thrive.
Sign #3: Home Is Where Your Heart Is
If you find yourself home a lot or thinking about being home a lot, it may mean that you'll be happier at a school closer to family.
Living on a college campus can and should offer a well-rounded experience. It can be a place where you eat, sleep, hang out, and learn. But, of course, when you live on campus, you'll still probably miss home now and again. However, if your longing for home keeps you from getting your best education, you might want to consider transferring.
Sign #4: The Culture Isn’t in Alignment with Your Values
Each educational institution has a unique culture that's been shaped by its history, values, and programs. Similarly, you have values and beliefs shaped by your family, friends, and life experiences thus far. If you find yourself at a school with a culture in misalignment with your values and beliefs, you might feel less than satisfied.
Of course, being exposed to new ideas and beliefs adds value to our lives and helps us see the world differently. We gain new perspectives when exposed to differing opinions, which is one of the greatest benefits we can get from college.
At the same time, you must be comfortable sharing your ideas and feel like the education you're getting will support the development of the person you want to be. If it doesn't or won't, it might be time to look at other colleges or universities. There is a perfect school for every student, and finding it is easier than you think.