Tuesday, May 17, 2016

5 Guidelines to Help You Decide Whether to Transfer Schools

Choosing the right college is an important decision in a young person’s life, and it’s one you want to make sure you get right. So what happens if you get it wrong?

That's what happened to me. Long story short, after high school, I went to what I thought was my "dream school." But throughout my entire freshman year, I experienced second thoughts. Had I made the right decision? Was this really the school for me?

Despite my honest efforts to give this school my best shot, my doubts lingered all year, and only worsened. By the end of the year, there was no doubt in my mind that this place was absolutely not where I was meant to be.

My parents took some convincing, but thankfully, the summer after that freshman year, I arranged to transfer schools. And here I am at my current school – and let me tell you, transferring there was the best decision I’ve ever made. My college is absolutely the right place for me, and I am so happy, peaceful, and alive here. It was a hard decision in some ways, and it took a lot of thought and prayer  but it was without a doubt the right decision for me.

Allow me to offer some guidelines to go by, if you are considering transferring schools. It's a big decision that you must take seriously and give careful thought to. But who knows, it could turn out to be the best decision you make, just like it did for me.

1 . Examine your motives.
Why do you want to transfer? Honestly ask yourself this question. Does another school have a particular program that is unavailable at your current school? Are you unhappy at your current school? If so, why?

Back when I was a freshman, my then-boyfriend already attended the school I wanted to (and did ultimately) transfer to. So of course when I expressed my desire to transfer there, many people, especially my parents, thought I only wanted to transfer so I could be with him. While I knew that wasn’t the case, I still took time to carefully examine my heart and determine if this was actually my motive, deep down inside.

And I can honestly say, to this day, that that truly was not why I wanted to transfer. In a nutshell, my real, honest-to-goodness reason for transferring schools was that, for academic, personal, and spiritual reasons, I wanted to go to a Catholic college (which my former school was not). And for me, those were legitimate and excellent reasons.

Take time to closely and carefully examine your motives for wanting to transfer schools, and make sure they are serious and legitimate. Changing schools is a big decision that will impact the rest of your life, so it's certainly not one to make for superficial or  let's be real here  stupid reasons. 

2. Explore your options thoroughly.
When I was considering transferring, I scoured the websites of my prospective schools and read every piece of important information I could find. I also looked on sites such as Rate My Professor and other school review websites to get inside perspectives on what the schools were really like. I made phone calls to the admissions offices to get answers to any questions I had, as well as to find out exactly what was required of transfer applicants. 

Do some honest, thorough research on the schools you're looking into, so you can make a well-informed decision. My mentality during this process was, "whichever school I transfer to, that's where I'm going to stay." College-hopping was not going to be an option  I was going to transfer schools once, and that would be final. I recommend having this same mentality. Do your research, and make absolutely sure that another school is really, actually going to be more what you want than your current school is. Weigh the pros and cons of staying at your current school versus transferring to a different school, financially, academically, etc.

3. Talk to people who can offer helpful, unbiased insight.
When making a decision, it always helps me to talk through things with other people, particularly trusted friends or family. When I was considering transferring, since my family was not initially in support of me, I knew I needed to seek out people who could provide me with honest, unbiased, and informative insight. 

So I talked to a high school / college friend who was in my exact situation (we went to the same college freshman year and she was also considering a transfer), so she totally understood where I was coming from. I called the admissions offices of the schools I was looking into and asked them any questions I had, so I could collect as many facts as possible. I talked things out with my best friend, who is always honest and real with me, so I trusted her opinion.

Talking to other people will, I'm sure, help you immensely in examining your motives and exploring your options. Be sure to talk to a few trusted people who can and will provide their insight or opinion from an unbiased standpoint.

4. Take it to prayer.

During my decision-making process, I prayed about it every single day. My prayer was always, "God, I know I want to do. But if it's not what you want me to do, please stop me dead in my tracks. But if it is what you want me to do, please make it happen and make it all work out."

And make it work out He did. Seriously, everything just fell into place, from the big things to little details. I could go on and on about it, but suffice it to say that God made it abundantly clear that transferring to my current school was the path He wanted me to take. 

Be prayerful about deciding whether or not to transfer schools, because it's a big decision and you want to make sure you're following God's will. Ask God to direct your steps and point you in the right direction and lead you down the path He has laid out for you. Tell Him what your desires are, and ask Him to simply either work things out, or to not work things out, to indicate to you whether or not He wants this for you.

Either way, always make following God's will your #1 goal, and remember that God knows exactly what is best for you.

5. Make the decision that is best for you.
Ultimately, this is your decision. It's your education and your life, so therefore it's your decision. Make it for yourself and for no one else. 

I knew how opposed my parents were to my transferring, but I also knew in my heart and my gut that transferring was the right decision to make. So even though it was going to kill me to displease them so much, I was ready to do it anyways ~ because I knew that this was the right thing and that this was what I wanted. Thankfully, my parents had a change of heart and ended up being in full support of my transfer (one example of how God worked everything out for me). But even still, my decision was mine and was only for me, because I knew it was best for me.

Keep in mind that you're an adult and that this is about your college education, and go from there. Some people in your life won't understand your decision, or will disapprove of it, or will think all the wrong things because of it. But don't let that get to you. You are responsible for your own happiness, and you know what you want. So make the decision that is best for you, and make it for yourself.

Are you considering transferring schools? Did you transfer schools? Why?


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