If you’ve been considering transferring colleges but still aren’t quite certain whether to leave your school or not, then there’s no better time to re-evaluate than during the summer.
You’re home. You’re with family and long-time friends. You’re comfortable. Furthermore, you’re away from the place you’re thinking about leaving for good – kind of like going on a break with your significant other before cutting it off for good. People say you don’t know how much you like something until it’s gone. Well, consider this a trial run. If you find yourself wanting it back, then luckily you haven’t made the final irreversible call yet.
Anyone who has gone through the process of considering transferring from a school knows that it is a very different process from selecting a school to attend in the first place. Pros and cons lists won’t work here; this decision is far more emotional. You’ve actually attended an institution for at least a year. And, unless you are utterly and completely miserable (in which case you should hands-down transfer out of there), then you have friends, memories and an established life at the place you’re thinking about leaving. Suddenly it’s not just a question of which place has better academics or smaller class sizes or a better social life… it’s a question of evaluating the life you’ve lived for the past year or two, and asking yourself, “Am I unhappy enough to start over?”
ACADEMICS MEET SOCIAL
Academics are important, right? After all, they’re the reason you’re at school. Is that really true though? College is built into the foundation of the American life cycle. “Best 4 years of your life” is what everyone says… even though that’s total BS. There’s this stigma that college is supposed to be the best 4 years of your life because it’s the last time tons of people the same age are all living together, having a good time.
And that’s just it – that last part right there. In theory, the only thing that would actually make college the best 4 years of your life would be if you’re having a great time with the people around you. Otherwise, it’s not going to be the best years of your life. That’s the ironic part. Because if academics were actually most important at college, no matter what, and automatically trumped any importance in the social life and partying, then people wouldn’t be enjoying it so much.
The truth is that there are far more “party” schools and state schools with party atmospheres, or at least extremely social atmospheres, than there are prestigious, exclusive institutions. And those prestigious institutions also have significantly less people. It’s no coincidence that most people who graduated from Harvard or Yale don’t look back on the experience as the greatest experience of their lives. No doubt they learned more than they probably will in their entire lives (unless they go onto one of those two Law or Med schools), and no doubt they took a tremendous amount of value away from the experience, but for the most part, they didn’t have as an exhilarating college experience, socially, as some of those who attend state schools.(except maybe niche who actually get thrills form staying in their rooms on Friday nights studying).
So, who cares? When you’re weighing your options during the transfer process, between leaving your school and staying, it’s important to consider all aspects. I would argue that non-academic related aspects of college life are equally, if not more, important than academics. That means that the reward you will gain from learning outside the classroom through practical experiences, whether it’s working with other socially-competent people in an extracurricular, or learning how to socialize in what might be an innately awkward situation for you, has the potential to outweigh what a textbook can teach you. I’m not saying the latter is actually less important, but I’m saying the difference between the 50th best college and the 10th best college may not be worth the extra academic prestige if you are sacrificing a lot socially.
And at the end of the day, you should be happy. It may not be the best 4 years of your life, but happiness is important.