Like people, schools have personalities. It can sometimes be difficult for students to keep that in mind when there is financial aid to sort through and courses to choose, but students who end up in a place that doesn’t mesh well with their individuality is a common problem.
There is a certain expectation that the “college experience,” along with academics, will make continuing education right after receiving that crisp high school diploma worthwhile. It gives them the chance to meet new people, get involved in new activities and make life decisions possibly for the first time.
Choosing a college is a major decision
Some students struggle with the idea of what they really want in their college experience. They have to consider so many different elements like location, cost, academic programs, extracurricular opportunities and much more. In addition, there is sometimes added pressure from parents or peers about what kind of school they “should” be going to. Some focus directly on academics while others heavily encourage extracurricular activities.
With so many options when choosing a college, it’s enough to make a student’s head spin.
Making the decision to transfer
Alexa Gentile made the decision to transfer schools her sophomore year of college.“I picked my first school for the wrong reasons,” she explains. While the school offered her a great education, she found it difficult to fit in with the other students despite her numerous efforts to get involved. After a semester, she decided her first school wasn’t exactly the right fit and she choose to apply to smaller schools with a more “family environment.”
Finding a better fit
As a nursing major, Gentile was able to find a school with an equally good program that also fit her social and environmental needs. Once she started at her new school, she found herself making friends more easily and sharing interests with her classmates, something she found more difficult to do at her first school.
Gentile also had the opportunity to live on campus in area that housed many transfer students. Because she was surrounded by so many students in a similar situation, Gentile found the transition easy and exciting in spite of her initial stress when choosing to transfer.
It’s important to encourage your students that their first college decision doesn’t have to be their last. While students should put their academic needs first, it’s important for them to know that if they don’t feel comfortable socially at their first college, they have every right to transfer to a school that would be a better fit.
Leaving a school may be nerve-wracking for students, but it will help them in the long-run to be both socially and academically successful. College is meant to help students grow personally and professionally and they should be able to find a school that lets them do that — even if it takes a couple of tries.
Annemarie Maurer is a recent graduate from St. John Fisher College and is a staff writer for NextStepU.com