Why parents shouldn’t panic if their freshman wants to transfer
As I’ve noted before, our country is seeing unprecedented numbers of students transferring from one college to another. An estimate from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center puts it at 40 percent!
So, after all that work – identifying and visiting colleges, pruning down the list, filling out applications, and agonizing over the location, cost, academic strengths, and availability of good housing, extra-curriculars, and academic guidance – your child decides that that is indeed not the college for them.
First of all, don’t panic.
Because so many students are leaving their first college that schools are seeing more and more empty beds at the end of the year. That means that many people who didn’t get into their very top choice of school have a better chance after freshman year.
How could that possibly be?
Because residential colleges have to fill every bed to be financially solid. They base their budget calculations very carefully on the number of students they can house and put in classrooms and the amount each of them will pay over a period of four years. If a student leaves after one year, a college has to fill that bed with someone. And though the numbers of transfer students is higher than ever, they aren’t nearly as high as the number of applicants for first year. And the overall number of college students is declining rapidly. Which is making every college nervous. Very.
So, if your child has successfully completed a year elsewhere, they have proven they can do it, and they are better candidates than they were last year. All of this is to say that many, many people use transferring as a side door into a more highly prized institution of higher learning.
And even if their first year wasn’t great academically speaking, there are bound to be colleges who will welcome them with open arms.
The other piece of good news is that colleges now have to pay a lot of attention to transfer students. They used to be a real afterthought. But these days, there are special orientations and even special advisors for them. Before sealing the deal, ask your child’s prospective institution what their orientation and advising programs for transfers are like. Their responses will be telling.