Advice For Transfer Students
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Student Life

As A Third Time Transfer Student, Let Me Tell You, There Is No Right Way To Do College

Advice for all types of transfers from someone who's done it twice before.


I'm not naive enough to say that my transfer experience was wholly unique. However, while reading through the various articles claiming to give advice to college transfers, I had trouble finding anything that was really applicable to my situation, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I didn't transfer schools because the atmosphere felt wrong, or the classes weren't what I was looking for. I loved the school I went to my freshman year, and, sure, I wasn't super involved like some other people, but I was content where I was. I transferred schools that first time because I didn't have another choice. I simply could not afford to go there anymore.

It's a fairly common situation, but you don't hear about it often enough. When I transferred initially, I didn't have a lot of options for schools — it was the local community college or nothing, and I'm sure you can guess which one I chose. The second time around, I had a lot more to pick from, but not many.

My situation wasn't unique, and it's among a greater variety that doesn't get mentioned in these types of articles. With a large number of non-traditional students enrolling in or transferring schools this fall, many people reading the typical advice articles probably felt farther removed than I did. Maybe you're a commuter or a part-time student or can only attend night classes — you get my point. Whether you're a military veteran or returning to school after a 15-year hiatus, your college experience is exclusive to you.

What I was looking for in those articles — and what I think a lot of other people hope for — was a clear guide for what exactly I should do going forward in my life, because making all the decisions myself was difficult and stressful. I can't give you that. As I'm sure you have figured out if you didn't already know, no one can tell you what to do with your life, and you probably wouldn't want them to, even if it seems like the easy way out. With that said, I will offer what small advice I do have as someone who's done this twice already.


Keep in mind, there is a lot of good stuff in those other kinds of articles. No matter what kind of student you are, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure the credits you already have will transfer. Sitting in a class you've already taken at another institution is a waste of time and money. If you don't have any, don't worry, there's nothing wrong with that. It'll make planning your next few years easier.

Next, always check the requirements, both for your major and general education. Try to map out the best academic plan possible. Don't worry too hard about sticking to that plan, but having it there might give you a starting point and a little peace of mind.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be aware of your own reasons for transferring. As I said, everyone's experience is going to be different, because no two people are in exactly the same situation. Think about what hasn't worked for you in the past, and where you'd like to be in the future.

It is necessary that you think not just about what you want but seriously about how you can get there. What do you need out of your education and where are you in your ability to achieve that? That might mean looking seriously at your economic situation among other factors.

When it comes down to picking that school, remember that you are an adult. Be mature and rational in your thinking and don't make the same mistakes you might have made before. Things like location and social reputation might not matter to you as much this time around. They factor in but don't become blinded by what you think a school will be like.

Be more focused on what you personally want out of your academic experience, and what resources you need that school to have. Also, keep in mind that many schools offer significantly less aid to transfer students, so the price is likely going to be a big factor in the decision you make.

Once you've done that, your next steps are going to rely pretty heavily on your individual situation. Sometimes the case with commuters, adult students, or military veterans is that they don't get the same sense of community as someone fresh out of high school and living on campus.

The reality for a lot of people is that they are too busy between studying and working and raising a family to be bothered with building social networks or joining clubs on campus. There's nothing wrong with that, but I would encourage you to put in a little effort where you can, even if it's just reaching out to professors. Depending on what you're studying and your career goals, it might be necessary to get involved in certain types of organizations just for the experience alone.

If you take anything away from this article, remember, above all else, there is no right way to do things. It's not for the complacent, but you've made it this far, so don't let yourself get intimidated.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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