We all make mistakes. Sometimes we make very expensive mistakes…like going to college.
You all know I am a firm supporter of everyone achieving a quality higher education (and I do mean everybody) but higher education does not mean college for everyone. I do not believe everyone should go to college. That why we have trade school and of recently online learning platforms. It’s not a one size fits all scenario. Sometimes going to college is a big (expensive) mistake.
However, maybe (just maybe) it’s not the decision to go to college that was the mistake but rather the college you chose to attend in the first place. Maybe you made your decision haphazardly and you weren’t ready to make such a big decision at that time in your life.
If things are not working out and you’re pretty sure it’s not you, here’s how to get out that situation.
#1 It’s time to transfer when the school can’t support your success
If your university literally does not have the staff or programming necessary to ensure your success, then it’s time to find a new home. This means limited academic programs or student support services like tutoring, programming, and mental health.
Going to college is so much more than just showing up in class. Inside the classroom is not the only place learning takes place. You should have access to services like tutoring and mentorship that will help you be successful in your academic career.
You should have easy access to your academic and career advisor who can help you pave a path toward graduation and prepare for your life post-graduation as well. Faculty and staff need to have a vested interest in your wellbeing.
When you are consistently running into walls that prevent you from getting access to resources that should be available to help you be successful (like a helpful academic advisor), it’s time to jump ship and transfer to another school.
#2 It’s time to transfer when the price tag for your degree isn’t worth it to you
Sometimes the college we decide to attend just does not make sense financially. The school may be absolutely amazing, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.
You can be going to an amazing school with amazing resources but the price tag is astronomical (even after busting your tail to earn some scholarships). Whereas, there’s this other school around the corner that has comparable standards and resources but is a fraction of the price.
There is no shame in admitting you made a mistake and transferring to another school to save some money. Don’t let your degree bankrupt you. (Here’s a quick guide on how to choose the right college.)
#3 It’s time to transfer when post-graduation placement and career aspects of your specific school have been continuously dismal
Most schools publish post-graduation career aspects and trajectories of their students. If you attend a school that does not publish this information, consider that a red flag. You want to pay attention to those placements.
Career prospects should be a factor in whether or not you choose to stay at your current institution. Don’t be quick to jump the gun though. If the numbers you’re looking at look dismal, ask yourself why or better yet- ask the school. Ask the career center or the agency that made the report.
Did those students not do well in college? Did they slack off in the job search? Did they go straight to grad school?
Of course, since you are proactive this won’t be you. Another thing you can do is ask other proactive students who have graduated or are close to graduating if they believe they were prepared for the job market post-graduation. This information can also inform your decision of whether or not to stay.
#4 It’s time to transfer when you are seriously concerned for your physical wellbeing
If you do not believe the school does enough to ensure your safety on campus, that is a good justification to leave. It is never worth putting your wellbeing in harm’s way.
My intention is not to scare you but it’s important to be aware of the dangers on campus. If you believe that danger against students has been increasing and the school has not done enough to keep up, it’s okay to leave.
Obviously, this goes beyond a one-off incident. College campuses are required to keep a record of violence on campus. Look at the data and talk to campus security to help inform your decision. (If there is no campus security, that is also a red flag).
My hope is that if you do choose to go to college, you make the best decision for yourself the first time around. Not only is it more efficient, making a mistake like that can cost you a lot of money.
If you are not entirely sure about college, that’s okay. Take a gap year. Tour more schools. Talk to more students. Do what you have to do to make sure you’re making the best decision for yourself.