You’re returning to college after winter break, and the thought of starting the semester fills you with dread. Everyone else seems so happy. Why don’t you feel this way?
Life is full of ups and downs, of curves and “swerves,” as Michelle Obama wrote about in her memoir Becoming. (Side note: if you haven’t picked that one up, it’s a worthy read.) Teenage years can be a roller coaster, and when it comes to a college experience, students sometimes question getting on the ride in the first place. Perhaps you wanted a huge school, but you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with the number of choices you have to make. Maybe you started college as a chemistry major, but now you’re questioning this path. You feel like you don’t have a genuine friend group yet. This college may not have been your top choice. Or, maybe you just miss home.
The decision to transfer colleges is a big one—almost as big as choosing your first college. It’s normal to hesitate often during your college experience, to feel some sense of, Is this REALLY where I belong? Did I make the right decision? Everyone else is having the time of their lives in college (right? Haven’t you checked your social feeds?!). Is there a better school for me out there? The tough part, which each student must decide on their own, is determining if these feelings can be transformed, or if these feelings should lead to a swerve.
When I worked in college admissions, I interviewed hundreds of prospective students, asking them what they were looking for in their “ideal” college. For prospective transfers, I would ask what they were seeking in their new college and how these priorities were different from what they originally sought. So, I turn to you, reader, to answer these questions for yourself. What is missing from your college experience right now? Is it possible to seek and find this missing piece in your current college? Be honest: have you given it your best shot? If your major is no longer interesting, are there advisors you could talk with or other opportunities you could seize to find a better fit? If you’re feeling homesick, have you joined student groups and consistently forced yourself to get involved to stay busy? These are just a few of the many self-reflective questions that might help you determine whether you have given your current college your all.
As you settle into your next semester, if you find yourself dissatisfied or questioning your choices, give yourself time to reflect. Make sure you’ve given this college, this experience, your best energy. Recognize that many students find that it can take quite a while to feel “at home”– often a year or more — and that many social posts are not revealing students’ true feelings and experiences (gasp!). Consider what you wanted, where you are, and how you can make where you are a better experience.
After reflecting, if transferring seems right for you, contact us. We’d be happy to help you find your next educational home—suggesting colleges to consider based on your current priorities, helping you craft thoughtful transfer applications that show your strengths and interests, and so on. We work with many transfer students who swerve for a variety of reasons—if you think you might be ready for a change, give us a call.