Admissions

What to Do If You’re Unhappy With Your First College

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First off, congratulations on attending the college of your choice! You worked hard to get to this point. And yet, for whatever reason, perhaps you’re finding that this college isn’t where you want to be. Maybe you’ve decided to change your major, or you’re looking for a different campus experience, or it could be that you just want to be closer to home. However much planning and research you do, you simply can’t prepare for every eventuality. That leaves you with two options: Stay put and adapt, or move on by transferring.

Option #1: Stay Put (Adapt)


Begin by asking yourself whether your dissatisfaction with the school is something you can control. Are the issues representative of the school as a whole, or are they case-by-case issues having to do with your current dorm, roommate or even a specific professor? Your school likely has dedicated staff members to resolve issues like this, so reach out to them and see what options you have to make your college life better.

If you’re still unhappy, you may want to do some soul-searching and see if there’s anything more you can do for yourself. For instance, do you feel a lack of community? If so, ask yourself if you’ve sought out like-minded people through extracurriculars that interest you. There could be groups on campus with which you’d feel right at home — maybe you just haven’t found them yet.

None of this, mind you, is your fault. Some issues cannot be easily resolved, and every student has different needs, which means you may be faced with an entirely different situation from those I’ve described so far. That’s when your second option might be the best bet.

Option #2: Move On (Transfer)

Some things about a school are simply out of your control: Maybe you’ve realized your passions lie outside of your initially intended major — seeking a school that offers a solid program in your new interests might be best. Or you’ve realized moving across the country to attend your dream school wasn’t the best bet now that you’ve had some time away from home — you can’t pack up a school and bring it back home with you!

Another such case might be financial — a change in your family’s income can impact your ability to keep up with loan payments after graduation, and no fault would come your way for anticipating that when you still have the chance to do something about it: now. One key way to solve situations like this is with a transfer.

Here are some key questions to find out:

- Will the credits you’ve already earned transfer?

- Will transferring affect your financial situation in a negative way? Make sure to factor in things like financial aid, transportation and other costs.

- Do you have the qualifications needed to get into the school you’ve got your sights set on now?

Transferring can be daunting, but it’s also something that plenty of college students do. There’s no shame in it, no negative mark on your college diploma — it’s just more work than adapting, so make sure you weigh the pros and cons before making that choice.

Remember: It’s all about doing what is best for you and your education. If you do find yourself revisiting your college applications, do your research. Use books like our Complete Book of Colleges or The Best 385 Colleges to make sure your second application is a lasting one.