Illustration of a person wheeling a suitcase away from a college campus for an article about transferring schools.

5 Factors To Consider When Thinking About Transferring Schools

After their first semester, a lot of students wonder if they would enjoy college more at a different campus. Here are some things to think about before taking that big step.
January 2, 2022
9 mins read

As the fall semester ends, college students are considering if they actually care about higher education. After going through my own “what ifs” regarding transferring, it became clear that I was not the only one. Searching for that perfect school can sometimes seem impossible as education gets more and more competitive. Although there are dozens of tools to help you choose the ideal college, striking academic gold is not easy. But now’s the time to find tours — virtually or in real life — to help us really analyze our true love for our colleges. With so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to weigh your options. That’s why I’m here to give a few suggestions for those deciding whether or not to transfer schools.

1. School Size 

“Do you want to go to a big, medium or small school?” Every high schooler has been asked this, and the Goldilocks-style question tends to get old. However, it’s just as relevant as it is cliche; the size of your school plays a massive role in your college experience. There are dozens of pros and cons to the three sizes, which allows for everyone to find what best suits them. Socialization, school reputation, letters of recommendation, class size, athletics and food are just a few of the factors affected by school size (there are tons of websites that analyze this further, as well). This is a popular complaint students have about their schools, so thinking over what setting best fits you should remain a top priority in your transferring decision.

For example, you may find yourself bored by the frequent socializing at a small school. Your circle tends to be small, familiar faces are all around campus and word can spread like a wildfire. If those descriptions make you cringe with bitter memories, a bigger school may be better for you. Despite the negative connotations of the phrase, being viewed as a number by massive schools can have its pluses.

2. Finances

Although the role of finances varies from student to student in any college decision, it’s important that everyone is on the same page about paying the bills. For some, price can actually be the deciding factor for choosing a school. But even if your family could afford to glaze over prices, considering the best financial package can be a huge help. If your school isn’t providing you with the best financial aid package, or you’re worried about the future of your college loans, transferring schools is definitely feasible. If so, view offered scholarships, schools’ past financial generosity and other factors that lower the hefty price. In short, transferring schools can be a wonderful help in saving money. After all, paying thousands of dollars a year can be intimidating, so why not look for the best bang for your buck?

3. Location

The location of your school contributes massively to your development as a college student. Luckily, higher education is offered all over the world, providing different climates, languages, cultures and ways of life. Analyzing where you call home is hugely important when deciding if transferring schools is right for you. I found it helpful to envision how my personal goals and qualities relate to my environment. For non-music school musicians, check out schools in artistic cities like Memphis or New York, each boasting their own bustling music scene. Consider your career and how it relates to the surrounding environment, as well. One semester of school provides a lot of perspective, so make sure to use this newfound experience to help yourself out when thinking about transferring schools.

4. Academics and Opportunities

The most obvious reason for going to college is to learn, so naturally, academics play a massive role when transferring schools. Take a gander at the classes your school offers, the majors and minors, the professor ratings and even the textbooks used in classes. For starters, if your desired major or minor isn’t available, there might be some better schools for you. Browse websites like Niche or Rate My Professor to get student and other first-hand reviews on professors and staff. Seeing one or two bad reviews is inevitable, so don’t get carried away with the critics; but if you see a trend between your personal experiences and the reviews, it may be time to browse some other options.

Some schools offer shadowing opportunities for incoming students and potential applicants, and this experience can be enormously helpful when analyzing the classroom. Try contacting the admissions counselor and see if their school offers something like this, especially if your school academics aren’t cutting it.

Other factors to consider when deciding whether you want to transfer schools are clubs, sports and other organizations on campus. Some schools specialize in specific extracurricular fields, so the atmosphere on each college campus varies significantly. Getting a feel for community involvement, athletic presence and popular organizations provides a better sense for your potential future as a student; so, gather the information to help you make the right decision.

5. Additional Questions

Sometimes, all this analysis can be far too complex for a simple yes or no question. If you find this article to be more stress-inducing than helpful, try asking yourself other questions: “Can I see myself here as an adult?” “How will this school help me achieve my career and personal goals?” “Is the hot weather going to get to me?” Minimizing the looming shadow of transferring schools can sometimes be the best approach, so take some time to ponder these questions. Try brainstorming a few more questions, too, because visualizing your future can be immensely helpful.

Making the Right Decision

Hopefully, after going through this list, you’re one step closer to making a transferring decision. If your dream school suddenly seems a lot less dreamy, don’t throw in the towel! The massive decisions that come with college require transition, and with transition comes distaste (usually). If you’re not completely in love with your school, try not to rush to the idea of transferring. Give higher education another semester’s worth of time, because leaving too early can be far more regretful than leaving a little too late. Stick out the year because perfection can sometimes emerge far after you first arrive at school. Don’t give up yet, unless it’s physically painful to stay on that darned campus any longer. At that point, it’s definitely time to reevaluate.

Jake Sanders, Rhodes College

Writer Profile

Jacob Sanders

Rhodes College
English, Minors in Business and Education

I’m an aspiring educator and freelance writer. I appreciate soft-filled Airheads bites and informality.

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