The right — and wrong — reasons to make a switch
Program dissatisfaction, new career goals, changes in personal life: There are many reasons why college students transfer to another school. In fact a recent survey from the National Center of Education Statistics shows that nearly 60 percent of college graduates had attended two or more institutions prior to graduation.
For many, transferring to another school means the difference between graduating or not. However, such a decision is not without cost.
“You can lose credits, money and time when you transfer,” says Terry Grant, director of enrollment management at the online American Public University System. “But the gains can be just as great.”
Grant and her team of student advisors work with thousands of students each year, helping counsel those considering transferring to APUS.
“We think our online degree programs are among the best in the nation — and we would be pleased if every transfer inquiry resulted in a new student,” says Grant. “But our ultimate goal is to help a student make the right decision for them.”
Good, bad reasons to transfer
Grant says students should consider these good — and bad — reasons for transferring, as they honestly evaluate their own situation.
- You have changed your degree goals, and your current university does not offer a matching program.
- You can’t make the progress you’d like toward graduation because certain courses are always full or are being cancelled.
- Your professors don’t have the relevant expertise and you feel ill-prepared for the professional world.
- You’re having significant difficulties with university policies and you can’t get the answers you need from the support staff.
- You have a personality conflict with a professor or a classmate.
- You are unhappy about the workload or grade from one class.
- You think another university might be easier.
“Be honest with yourself. Do your issues reside more with you than the school?” asks Grant.
How to make the switch
If you feel confident that a transfer is the best path for you, then immediately research your current school’s transfer policies. The best time to switch is when you can exit your current classes without a significant penalty. For traditional schools, you may not be able to enroll until the next semester. Some online universities offer courses year-round, so you can start over fairly quickly. At APUS, for example, courses begin each month and run for eight or 16 weeks.
Work with your new school’s admissions team to evaluate what credits will transfer. Grant’s team, for example, can assist with a preliminary credit evaluation, estimating transfer credits even before you register.
And there’s good news for those who struggled with grades. Your grade point average doesn’t always transfer with your credits. In many cases, you can get a fresh start.
Be prepared that you may lose credits, however. They may not fit into your new degree program or you may have already have satisfied elective requirements. You may also lose credits for those courses taken some time ago, where the coursework may be outdated. This is especially true for rapidly evolving segments, such as the homeland security or intelligence disciplines.
Grant counsels students not to agonize over those lost credits.
“Learning is never wasted. You have still gained that knowledge,” she says.
By Online Learning Tips Staff