Why Do Students Transfer?

I already knew that only about 20% of all students go to college, that almost half don’t have a degree after six years and that most don’t work in a career that utilizes their major. What I didn’t know is that more than a third transfer before completing a bachelor’s degree and many transfer more than once.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that 37% of all students in college in 2008 transferred between campuses before completing a four-year degree. Turns out that it isn’t quite as bad as it sounds because transfers from community colleges to universities were included in that number. But still, there are a lot of students abandoning their first choice schools. Brennan Barnard, counseling director at a private college preparatory day school for grades 6-12, offered an explanation.

We tell our teens that college will be the best four years of their life. What would your expectations be if you bought into that kind of hype? Social media is definitely a contributing factor. If someone is sweating it out a difficult freshman year while constantly viewing pictures of friends living it up on other campuses, naturally they will begin to feel like they picked the wrong school. Also, struggling students can find comfort from family and friends via their mobile devices instead of getting involved in campus activities and organizations or taking opportunities to make new friends.

Yet another contributing factor is having been sheltered for the first 18 years of their life. Because they have been protected from the cold, cruel world, they don’t know how to cope with homesickness and the challenges of doing everything for themselves.

Where Mr. Barnard and I differ is the part that early admission application options play in college decisions. He believes students are being pressured to lock in a college early in the fall instead of having the entire winter to think about it. Unless the student purposely binds themselves to a college when the application is submitted, they have until May 1st to make a decision.

The last thing I will mention is changing majors. On the average, students change majors three times. Changing to a major that is not offered or is not particularly strong at their school will likely result in a transfer. My solution is to have a good set of expectations in place while building a list of colleges and test drive careers interests while in high school. As with anything else, proper preparation will secure the desired outcome.

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