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Countdown to college: Good reasons to transfer

Lee Shulman Bierer, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Education News

I know we’re all tired of constantly being reminded just how different 2020 has been, but think about just HOW different it has been for college freshmen.

They visited colleges, researched a variety of schools, made their final lists and wrote their essays on why they wanted to attend each school. They jumped for joy when the acceptances rolled in or adjusted to the tough news of a rejection. And then, they made a decision on where they were going to spend the next four years of their lives.

COVID-19 was supposed to go away over the summer and then their fall semester was going to be everything they dreamed about. They anticipated attending sporting events, going to parties and making new friends from their dorms and their classes. We all know that little or none of that actually happened. What an unfortunate disappointment for them.

Many students have spent the fall semester at home learning remotely, and while it works for some, it clearly is not as rewarding or engaging as being in a classroom with a fascinating professor and stimulating discussions. For some freshmen, it just isn’t worth the price tag, and they are reconsidering their options for next year.

What happens when you and your child determine that it's either COVID-19's fault or they chose their college for the wrong reasons? They’re unhappy. You’ve tried talking it through, you’ve tried tough love, it just isn’t a good fit, and they want to leave.


Financial necessity. “Why do you want to pay for me to be unhappy?” It's a tough argument to refute when you could be paying as much as $25,000 a semester. The economic plea will resonate with parents, especially as we are coping with the unpredictability of the timing of a vaccine.


A “major” discovery. Many students enter college undecided about their majors, then they take an interesting course and get hooked. But their college doesn’t offer their new passion as a major and they want to transfer. More commonly, a student who “knew” she wanted to be a biomedical engineer is eking through an introductory engineering course and now says: “What was I thinking?” If your student has genuinely become passionate about some other specialized major and has researched colleges with strong departments, and you believe their decision is rational instead of emotional, this could be a very good reason to transfer.

Academic upgrade. If your student isn’t being sufficiently challenged and is beginning to lose interest in academics, transferring to a more competitive college could be the answer. It's important to note that being a star performer at any college will have its own rewards, including research opportunities, stellar letters of recommendation, strong graduate school admissions and career recruitment.

Recognition of needs. Often students from small high schools will select large colleges and universities, declaring that they “want something different.” Most students adjust quite well. However, some students who are accustomed to a degree of hand-holding from their parents and/or their high schools are jarred by their newfound independence. They often feel that the university is too big and impersonal and want a more intimate learning environment.

Culture clash. Sometimes the party scene at colleges can be too intense. It also happens, although not as frequently, that students feel there isn’t enough of a social atmosphere at their college. Before targeting transferring as a solution, be sure to discuss the issues and recommend other options.

Family obligations. Some family situations will be aided by having your son or daughter closer to home. If you can anticipate that the crisis is short-term, it might be better to consider a “leave of absence” from college.

©2020 The Charlotte Observer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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