I transferred three times in four semesters and moved five times in five years.
To many friends and acquaintances, it appeared as nothing more than a change to my current city on Facebook. But to me, however, it both messed me up and made me stronger.
Here are the pros and cons of transferring colleges that I learned firsthand:
Pro: You get to upgrade schools
In my final transfer, I went from a second-tier university to a first-tier university. It ended up not only looking better on my resume, but it also provided me with a better education.
Just make sure you use those pre-transfer years wisely, which consists of doing well in the right classes, saving money and getting involved. This will help you get into your desired school, among other things.
“Community colleges allow you to make up deficiencies or coursework and to make a transition that makes you feel more confident for taking on university work,” said Dr. Betty Huff, vice provost for enrollment services at the University of Memphis.
Con: Credits don’t always transfer
All of my credits transferred, but not all of them applied. Meaning, some merely counted credit-wise but didn’t fulfill any requirements. This might happen to you.
If possible, avoid this. Whether classes transfer or not are questions to ask an advisor. In addition to meeting with an academic advisor, contact the school you hope to transfer to and make sure you’re taking transferable classes.
I ended up graduating with 141 credits when I only needed 128. All that time and money I’ll never get back. A good advisor can help ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
Pro: You experience new things and make new friends
At first, in a new city, making new friends may be difficult. This is why Huff recommends new transfer students find resources on campus, such as clubs and sports.
“If they can find the right resources, it’s very easy for a student to attach to a community on campus,” Huff said. “It takes that large-sized institution down and breaks it up into smaller pieces.”
Due to transferring, I now have friends all over the world. If I want to visit Denver or London or the Dominican Republic, I have a free couch to crash on. Plus, I got to experience new cities and cultures.
Con: You leave people and landmarks behind
One of the most difficult parts of moving is leaving behind friends. Sure you can visit, but the dynamics of your relationship with that person change. Naturally, this filters out people that should be filtered out. But it also puts a strain on some of your most beloved friendships.
While my best friendships survived, many other ones faded away.
Yes, it’s part of growing up, but it also makes for some bittersweet memories. Before transferring, make sure you’re willing to take these risks. But also realize that even if you stay, your relationship with these people won’t always be the same. Change is inevitable, especially with marriage and kids likely on the way.
Pro: You grow as a person
Due to transferring and moving so much, I’ve become very independent. Moving somewhere new and upgrading schools forces you to push yourself socially and intellectually. Challenging yourself leads to maturity. After moving a few times, fear of doing other risky things fades away.
That’s not to say you can’t grow by staying in one place your whole life.
But I always advise people to move away from home at least once to be able to see your hometown from the outside. When I moved away for college (and to New York after college), I realized my hometown (Las Vegas) was both better and worse than I had thought. I appreciate it more now.
Con: It can postpone stability
I look at many of my friends who stayed and went to colleges in Las Vegas and sometimes envy their stability.
They moved up at their job, make much more money than me, and many of them are married, parents or home-owners. While some of these things don’t appeal to me at the moment, it sometimes sounds better than all my student loan debt.
Before delving into the temporarily unstable abyss, seek help. “Ask questions early and seek advising instead of just doing it on your own,” Huff said.
Jon Fortenbury is a Reno-based freelance writer. He’s written for many publications, including Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada Magazine, and Reno News & Review. His interests include education, religious debates, and lemon cookie ice cream.
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