Two years ago today, I never would've thought I would be where I am. At the time, I was starting off my freshman year at my previous school; a medium-small sized engineering school most people have never heard of. I was a soccer player and just thrilled to pieces that I had the opportunity to play the sport that I love in college.
Freshman year was great! I had gotten actual playing time in games, made some friends and decided I didn't want to be a math major anymore. I couldn't be more thrilled to start my sophomore year that following August.
However, that all quickly changed.
It soon came to my attention that soccer wasn't going to work out. At the time, I was devastated and felt completely lost. That's when I knew I had to make a change. Therefore, I decided to transfer out of my school in hopes of finally attending a big, power-conference school with great academics and even better athletics.
I achieved that goal and haven't looked back since.
If my story resonates with you, I suggest you really think about the following questions before you decide to embark on the long process that is required of you when you decide to transfer to a new college.
Is there anything I can do to make this situation better?
While this may seem obvious, most people don't ask themselves this when deciding to transfer. Many just decide that since they aren't happy in their current situation that they won't be for the entire semester.
Try joining a club, switching roommates or friend groups, or even dropping that incredibly hard class that seems impossible.
While these may not improve your situation, it can give you an idea of what you want to change when transferring universities.
What are my current options?
For many, finishing their current semester or year at their current school seems doable. For others, not so much.
This is where you need to examine what you're willing to give up.
Ask yourself, "Is the situation so unbearable that it would be best to withdraw from the university and live at home until further notice?"
If that's the case, I suggest creating a plan of what to get done while home, so that you don't waste a full year (or semester) doing nothing when you could be working, taking classes at the local community college, or doing activities that can boost your resume.
How will this change my academic career?
If there was one thing I wish I knew before I embarked on my transfer experience, it would be that I probably wouldn't be able to graduate in the "normal" undergraduate time frame of 4 years.
Being an engineering major, the process almost promised me that I would have to add on at least an extra year.
If you're a science, business, or liberal arts major, this might not be true for you. I suggest lightly researching the schools you're considering transferring to before making any rash decisions.
What schools should I apply to?
For me, this was easy. I wanted a big school with a great engineering program and I didn't really care how far from home I was.
This isn't the case for many people. This will take quite a bit of research but it helps if you have an idea of what you want in a university, even if it's just some basic qualities (size, location, academic rigor).
It also helps if you go in with an open mind and ignore any social stigmas or bias.
Will this be worth it in the end?
I am not going to sugarcoat it, transferring schools sucks.
It's long, hard, emotionally draining, and costly. And that's even before you step onto campus. There will be classes that don't transfer correctly or even transfer at all.
You will need to put forth a lot of effort to make this work, whether it be bringing up your GPA to get into that reach school or merely finding a place to live once you commit to your new school.
For some, the extra effort might not seem worth it enough to counteract the negatives of their current school situation. However, transferring could also change your life.
Personally, I can say that transferring not only improved my academic experience, but it also opened my eyes to many other opportunities that I would've never dealt with had I stayed at my previous institution and because of that, it was all worth it in the long run.