Signs that Your College Student Should Consider Transferring

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By Lorena Roberts, Uloop

Being the parent of a college student brings its own kind of struggles with it. Some days they’re calling you on the verge of tears because they made an “A” on that exam they studied really hard for, and others they’re calling on the verge of tears because their significant other dumped them right before midterms and it feels like their life is falling apart.

You never know what kind of curve balls your college student is going to throw at you. So you have to be ready for anything.

If you’re getting more than often phone calls from a college student who’s unhappy, you might have considered encouraging them to transfer to another school. “Transfer students” can get a bad reputation – sometimes it’s hard to fit in, there’s a whole process you have to go through to ensure you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. So some college students think they can just power through their four years of undergrad without transferring — just suck it up and move on. But that’s not necessarily healthy for them or their mental health.

If you’ve thought more than a few times about encouraging your college student to transfer, but you don’t exactly know the signs you should be looking for, here are some of the most common:

1. If your student’s grades are plummeting…

There’s a pretty good chance your student needs to transfer if they’re bringing home grades that aren’t stellar. Sure, there’s a period in everyone’s college career where they struggle academically. Whether it’s for personal reasons or not, we all experience that “slump” that tends to happen around sophomore year. Your student might feel lost, depressed, or hopeless. They might start questioning what they’re doing with their lives, and they might stop showing up for class.

But there’s much more to it when your student says they’re trying their absolute hardest and they just aren’t making the grades. Chances are, they picked a school that was too tough for them, or has expectations that are higher than what your student is willing to put forth in effort.

Transferring to a school that’s “easier” might be good for your student. It’s at least an option worth exploring if you (or your student) is worried about their academic success.

2. If your student drastically changes career paths…

If your student decides to completely change the career path they were on, it might be worth it to look into transferring to a different school. Sometimes it works out to where your student can stay where they are, change their major, and be fine. But in most cases, transferring to a school with a strong program in their new career choice is the better option.

Don’t let your student feel like a failure — career changes are pretty normal. And if transferring to another school is going to give them the best education and options after graduation, then it’s an option that’s worthy of being considered.

3. If your student’s mental health starts to deteriorate…

Sure, we all start feeling depressed sometimes. There are days that are better than others. But if you’re getting calls from your student who is completely unhappy where they’re at, it’s time to get them to a different place. Maybe the school they chose is too big (or too small) and they would be happier at a school that better suits who they are. Maybe they’re too far from home, and it’s sketching them out that they don’t have any family close by. Maybe they’re too close to home and they’re unhappy living in your basement and they need to get out on their own.

Whatever the reason may be, transferring colleges is a serious conversation you should have with your student. If any of these signs arise, you should ask your student how they feel about transferring. If they’re completely against the idea, then fine, maybe there are other ways to solve their depression/anxiety. But if they’re open to the idea, then explore their options! It might be a life-changing decision for them.

Parents of college students get intimidated by suggesting their student transfer. You may feel like we just went through the process of applying and being accepted — why would we do that again? But when it comes to the happiness and level of success available to your student, the hassle is completely worth it. Sure, there are probably close to one thousand forms you have to fill out. Sure, they’ll have to look into whether or not their credits are going to transfer. Yes, their financial aid package may be different.

But when it comes down to the happiness of your child, you would do anything for them, wouldn’t you? So transferring colleges, in the grand scheme of life, is something small that you can encourage them to look into in the meantime.

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