Greatest College Plan of All - Student Research Foundation

Why Transferring Can Be the Greatest College Plan of All

We watched a segment on the evening news last week that showed a group of students who were gathered in their high school’s college counseling office, happily logging in and discovering all the wonderful schools where they had just been accepted.

There were whoops and shouts. They all looked happy, except for two students in the back of the room, away from the computer. They looked glum. Could it just be that they, unlike the cheering students, had just gotten bad news about their college prospects? It could be. One thing for sure was that the news segment wasn’t focusing on students who had been rejected.

After all, April is not happy for all students who are applying to colleges. Although The 2016 American College Freshman National Norms Report from UCLA found that more than 90% of college freshmen had been accepted by one of their top three schools, that overlooks the fact that lots of high school students do not. And then there’s the fact, also reported in the study, that 15% of all respondents did not go to their top-choice college because they could not afford to. So again, not everybody is happy in April.

Why Not Think about Transferring?

Conventional wisdom, and it really is wisdom, holds that students shouldn’t go to a college that they are planning to leave after a year or two. After all, those students should keep an open mind. They just might love a college that was their second or third choice.

Yet even so, the knowledge that transferring could be an option in a year or two can relive some of the pressure for certain students. Perhaps it is time to take some of the stigma from the concept. Back in 2015, the National Student Clearinghouse found that 37.2% of all college students transfer at least once during their college careers.

So if you are a student who didn’t get into the college you fell in love with or if you cannot afford to go if you did, there are some reasons why transferring could be a good option in a year or two . . .

  • You could be in a better position to get accepted by a more selective college – possibly one that was among your top choices when you were in high school.
  • You might be closer to picking a major. You can then apply to schools with excellent programs in your chosen field.
  • After starting college, you will probably have a better idea of what college is all about. As one student explained it, “I thought I wanted to go to a small liberal arts college in New England, but after two years at one of those, I wanted to go to NYU.”

If you know a student who was disappointed this year, it might be too early to say, “Don’t worry, you can always transfer.” But do hold that thought in your mind. In time, it might turn out to be the best college plan of all.

Want to know more about smart college options? Participate in the National Career Pathway Study.

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