If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Advice for Transfer Students

Sometimes, it’s hard to find the perfect fit. No, I’m not talking about shoes (but I’ll admit, it’s quite tragic to find out that your size isn’t in stock). Think on a broader scale. Where you live, the people you surround yourself with, the value of your education.

Usually, students spend months researching universities in order to find the “perfect” one for them. It seems easy enough if you know what you want in a school, but occasionally the university you pick just doesn’t seem to quite “fit.” If this happens, there is always the option to transfer.

Should I transfer?

If you have a negative experience at college during the first few months of freshman year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should transfer. Transferring universities takes a lot of time and effort— researching schools, filling out new applications, withdrawing from your current university, etc. Instead, take a couple of months to settle in. It is difficult to adjust to any new environment, so don’t immediately blame the school for your initial unhappiness or homesickness. Instead, ask yourself a few questions about your current school:

  • Does my current university fulfill my needs in terms of location? Do I actually want to be closer/further away from my hometown than I originally thought?
  • Does my college offer a program that best suits my needs academically? Does my declared major adequately prepare me for what I would like to do in the future?
  • Am I happy with the spirit and make-up of the student body around me? 

After asking yourself these questions, you may get a better idea if transferring universities is for you. If you do decide to transfer, keep the following in mind:

  1. Don’t be ashamed if the university you originally picked does not turn out to be right for you. There’s nothing shameful involved in transferring universities. Thousands of students transfer to different schools each year, as their academic and personal needs change. It’s a much better option to transfer and be happy in the future, rather than to stay miserable for four years.
  2. Your degree will come from the university that you graduate from. Unless you tell someone, nobody (friends, professors, future employers) has to know that you are/were a transfer student.
  3. Universities make transferring relatively painless. Once you decide that you do want to transfer, your academic adviser will guide you through the process.
  4. Keep an open mind when deciding where you want to transfer. If you applied somewhere and were deferred or rejected the first time, there’s a chance that if you apply again, you will be accepted (many students drop out over the course of the year, creating openings for transfer students).
  5. Decide if you would like to transfer before application deadlines (and more importantly, keep track of these deadlines in a planner or on your phone). If you miss an application deadline, you may need to stay at your original university for another academic year.

Finding the “perfect” university is not as easy as you may think.  Even after months of college research, students may decide that they would rather be somewhere else. Luckily, new colleges are not like shoes. They are plentiful, diverse, and, most importantly, always in stock.

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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