26 May

Trouble in Paradise: 1/3 of All College Students Transfer Schools

Choosing the “wrong” college has long been a problem for students–one that too often means extra time and money spent on obtaining that coveted college degree. Now a new study from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) indicates that 1 out of every 3 college students will transfer to another school–and that can spell trouble for students who want to get on the fast track to graduation.

Losing Time and Money

Way back in 2007 we found out that an increasing number of students were spending 5 or 6 years in undergraduate college programs just to earn a Bachelor’s degree, which was once considered a “4-year degree.”

As more and more students struggle to complete their degrees in the standard four years, many of them also end up battling the consequences of choosing the “wrong fit” college, and, according to NACAC, 1/3 of them end up transferring schools. That’s bad news for students hoping to graduate on time and parents hoping to save money.

Students that switch colleges mid-degree can end up spending up to an entire year longer in school simply to make up requirements that didn’t transfer from their previous institution. Not only does that set a students back a year on their career path, it also means that an additional year of tuition, room and board, travel and incidental costs add up either on the student’s (or parents’) tab, many times in the form of additional debt.

And that financial tally doesn’t include the emotional cost of having to start fresh at a brand new school, with all new classmates, course schedules, activities and graduation requirements. Talk about a stressful situation!

A Difficult Proposition

As if adjusting to the transfer process itself weren’t difficult enough, the precursors–research, transfer applications, essays and possibly another round of interviews–may be even worse.

NACAC’s recent study found that being admitted to college as a transfer student may be even more complicated than the initial college application process – simply because each school’s criteria can vary so much.

For example, most all colleges in the study agreed that a student’s post-high school GPA was the most important factor when it came to transfer admission; but some of the more selective colleges also took a hard look at factors that students cannot control, such as their state or county of residence, the quality of their high school and their race or ethnicity. Schools also varied as to whether they viewed a GED or transferable credits as positive or negative, and about 11% of surveyed schools were put off by students who wanted to enroll only part-time.

What You Can Do

If you are still in the process of trying to find your child’s dream school, don’t be seduced by an impressive website or well-known name before you’ve figured out what your student really wants and needs in a postsecondary environment. Choosing the right college is key if you want to keep your college costs down and your student happy–that’s why I’ve dedicated a whole category of posts to selecting the right college. I’ve even shared a simple 4-step formula to finding the right school for your child.

College is certainly a big step for both parents and students, but with careful planning and a positive attitude, it can be your child’s next great adventure.

All the best,
Deborah Fox


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