You’ve hit a wall. For whatever reason, you’re just not clicking with your college of choice, and you find yourself thinking that you’re not in the right place, repeatedly. Sometimes college just isn't what you thought it would be.
Coming to the realization you made the wrong decision is tricky, and many people are wary of taking the next dramatic step: transferring colleges. Maybe you’re worried about other people's opinions or that you’ll disappoint your friends or family, or perhaps your concerns are financial. It could be that you’re stressed over the thought of delaying your eventual graduation.
These are legitimate concerns, but there are also equally compelling reasons for leaving a school you no longer feel a healthy relationship with. Below, you’ll find six of the top signs that your current school is no longer the right fit, as culled from inquiries we’ve received from students who once found themselves in your shoes. Read on to learn more.
1. Your ambitions have changed.
Here’s what you need to understand: It’s okay to change your mind about what you want in life. That’s a pretty big decision to make, and not every student will find the final answer to be clear-cut. You’re not the same person you were back when you were deciding in high school which college you wanted to attend. College is as much about finding your path in life as it is going to class and discovering a career path. You're bound to do a lot of self-discovery right now, and that's great.
When you realize you chose the wrong major, think about what you do want. What does the "right major" look like to you? Meet with an academic advisor, talk with your family and look within yourself to get an idea of what your future career could look like. Or at least, consider what you're passionate about and go from there — even if that means leaving the college that can no longer provide you with what you want. Transferring could help get you on the right course.
2. You switched majors (and it didn't help).
Okay, so you switched to something that will suit you better (or so you think) ... but you still feel uneasy and unsure of everything. Keep in mind, some students switch majors several times before landing on the right one. If you're at the wrong college, however, no amount of changing majors will make that feeling go away. Instead, try researching schools that have exactly what you're looking for, or at least have the potential to cater to your needs better. Sometimes being at the right school will open lots of doors to career paths you may not have ever considered. That's a big sign you've made the right decision.
3. The structure isn't "you."
Did you get incredibly excited when you toured a university but once you arrived there, you were treated like just another number? Not all colleges are created equal, especially in how they approach their interactions with students. Some colleges and universities provide a supportive environment that encourages regular meetings with counselors, extensive tutoring services and career resources that will help land you a job.
The structure of some larger colleges isn’t for everyone and can actually work against many students. If you feel like you’re getting lost in the shuffle, then by all means, you should begin to look elsewhere.
4. You feel homesick. A lot.
Homesickness is completely normal, and everyone has felt it at some point. There is a difference between normal homesickness and homesickness that has an affect on your mental health, grades and relationships. If you find yourself jealous of friends and classmates on social media having a great time living their college life, something is wrong. When it gets to this point, it might be time to consider a transfer. There's no shame in wanting a better college experience and finding the right place for you.
5. You're having a tough time making friends.
If you're from a small town attending a city school (or vice-versa), of course there will be a period of adjustment during your freshman year. Introverts, especially, will have a harder time making friends and reaching out in unfamiliar surroundings. Remember, few people go into college and feel like they fit in right away; this may take time but if you're still feeling out of place after a year or so, maybe a change of scenery is in order. Different universities and colleges have certain cultures, so maybe the one you chose isn't the right decision.
6. You crave independence.
Every college students looks forward to being out on their own and managing their own life and schedules. But maybe you've found that you're actually too close to home (let's call this the opposite of homesickness). There's nothing wrong with living at home (financially, it's usually a smart move) or attending school in your hometown, but you may feel like you need to be away from your parents and other familiar faces so you can begin anew.
A variety of hindrances could present themselves during the course of your college tenure, and ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out when the time is right to make a move. In small doses, none of the above is a deal breaker, but if you get to the point where you dread walking out the door to go to class, a change will be necessary. A transfer and potential move to a new place may sound daunting now, but you'll thank yourself when you have your dream career and can look back fondly on your college experience.
If you’re thinking of making a transfer but don’t know where to start, download our Transferring Credits Checklist, which provides a quick reference to the ducks you’ll need to get in a row when switching to a new college.