There are plenty of college students that transfer colleges every year. And many of these students will see little to no impact on their chances of getting hired once they graduate. But there are certain scenarios that I’ve seen that can hurt college student’s chances of getting hired.
College students transfer colleges for a variety of reasons that we’ll discuss here. The most important question you may be asking is how to transfer colleges without it hurting your chances of getting hired upon graduation. The answer is that you properly think through the reasons why you want to transfer, properly plan for a transfer and then execute on your transfer plan.
College is Hard
When you first start college, it can be hard. Really hard for some. So hard that you want to quit. The change from high school is real. It’s nothing like it for most. Because of this, many students are faced with the fight or flight syndrome.
Run away or dig in and fight through the temptation to leave or give up.
I’m starting here because I want to make it clear – don’t think that transferring colleges is going to make this scenario of adapting to change any easier. Because it won’t.
Just because college is new and hard at first is not a valid reason to transfer. This is the wrong approach and can certainly have a negative impact on your college years and eventual career. That’s because running away isn’t the right response in this scenario.
Fighting through the temptation to leave or give up is the right response.
If you find yourself in this exact scenario, I encourage you to hang in there! Get through the year and reevaluate where you stand. Once you’ve adjusted to college life, you may find that you’re okay. You just needed time. If not, then you need to look into other reasons you are struggling with the college you’re at. Because there are valid reasons to transfer college after all.
Valid Reasons to Transfer Colleges
Now that we’ve gotten the pep talk out of the way, what are some valid reasons to transfer colleges? Here’s my top five:
- You started at a community college or other 2 year degree program and are seeking your bachelor’s degree.
- You’ve chosen a different career path and need to change your major, but your current school doesn’t offer or doesn’t have a strong reputation in that major.
- You’ve raised your GPA well enough to be considered for admission into another college that is more aligned with your career plan.
- Your current college is too expensive.
- Your current college is too far away from home and you have personal obligations that require you to be closer to home.
You started at a community college or other 2-year degree program and are seeking your bachelor’s degree.
This is the most obvious valid reason to transfer colleges. Many of you wisely chose to start out at a community college with the goal to transfer to a 4 year university. This is a great stepping stone method that I would encourage for anyone who need to “test the waters” first or just need to save some money.
You’ve chosen a different career path and need to change your major, but your current school doesn’t offer or doesn’t have a strong reputation in that major.
If you’ve found yourself needing to change majors, then transferring colleges may be necessary. If your current college doesn’t even offer the major you’re switching to, then it’s clear you need to transfer. Or, if your college is weak in that major area or just has a poor reputation (do your research!), then you should consider a transfer.
Be careful here. You have the right to change your mind on your major, but don’t make a habit of it. There’s no sense in going through the process of transferring if you keep changing your mind. Make sure this is the real deal. Then create your career plan and stick to it!
You’ve raised your GPA well enough to be considered for admission into another college that is more aligned with your career plan.
The reality is that some colleges are easier to get into than others. They admit students with lower GPA’s. I’m not saying this means these colleges are necessarily worse than others, but their standards are clearly different.
Therefore, many students take advantage of this by starting out at a college they can get admitted into with the goal of attending another college they really wanted to go to but couldn’t get into immediately because of their high school GPA.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach. As long as it’s a one-time deal and you do it as soon as possible. And I mean work your tail off your Freshman year and raise your GPA as much as you can and transfer. Don’t goof around and take your time and then decide to transfer your Junior year. Big mistake – you’ve then set yourself up on a 6 year plan.
Your current college is too expensive.
Going to college is expensive. There’s the duh statement of the day! But sometimes it can just get too expensive. Maybe your financial circumstances changes, or maybe you just didn’t realize how much it really did cost and have decided you need to downsize.
There are very valid reasons to transfer colleges. And even more valid if you’re taking out student loans to go to college. As we are all aware, there’s a student loan crisis going on, and I’m sure you don’t want to just be another statistic.
If the tuition, books, dorm, meal plan and other expenses are just too much, don’t be too proud to face the fact that you might need to take a different turn for financial reasons. There are some great schools out there that will offer you the same level of quality for less money. And, trust me, this will not hurt your chances in getting hired down the road.
Your current college is too far away from home and you have personal obligations that require you to be closer to home.
In the same vein as college being too expensive, you may find yourself just simply too far away from home.
By too far away from home, I don’t mean homesick. I’ll address that in a bit.
I mentioned above that if you find yourself struggling financially, then being closer to home will usually save you money, especially if you go to a commuter school and live off campus or with your parents (sorry parents).
However, there are also times where you have personal obligations that require you to be closer to home. Things like caring for a loved one who has become ill or helping out a friend on the side with their business, etc. These circumstances certainly come up in life and you will be forced to decide.
If that decision is to transfer colleges due to these personal or financial situations, then this certainly is a valid reason to transfer.
What’s the REAL Reason You’re Considering Transferring Colleges?
Now that we’ve discussed the legit reasons for transferring colleges, it’s time to address the reasons that I would say are more selfish or petty than necessary. This same seem harsh, but here goes…
- Your homesick. I’m not making fun of this, because homesickness is real. I’ve experienced it a few times myself. And certain people can handle it better than others. But I want to point out that being homesick is not reason enough alone to bail.
What I encourage students to do, is to stick it out that first semester. You should start adapting to your new surroundings. And if not, then I encourage you to stick it out another semester then reevaluate.
But your knee-jerk reaction should never be to just immediately give up and transfer to a college close to home. If you do, you may very well have regrets later in life that you didn’t stick it out.
- You want to go to the same college as your high school friend. You started off strong. You made the leap to go to a college on your own without your best friend from high school. Your intentions were good because you knew the college you chose was a better fit for you and your career plan.
But a semester in and you’re missing your pal. You text every day and see how much fun they are having at their school and you are miserable.
Well, suck it up. This isn’t a good reason to transfer! This is just missing your friend, which is normal by the way.
Eventually you will find your way on your own and should be able to make new friends in college. Anyone will tell you that’s been there that there are your high school group of friends and your college group of friends. They’re different. And that’s okay.
If you’re really struggling in this area, then you need to come to terms with what’s really going on. If you don’t make new friends easily, I understand. But I hate to put it to you this harshly…you’re not going to college to make friends. You’re going to college to learn and land a great career. Stay focused on the end goal.
If you take this perspective, you may just accidentally make some new friends along the way.
- You want to go to the same college as your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Take the above advice. Rinse and repeat.
Don’t base an important decision like what college you attend on your current love life. It may not seem like it now, but that love life can change. I hope it doesn’t and you spend your entire lives together. But there’s a chance you won’t.
Stick it out at your current college. Distance make the heart grow fonder, right?
If any of the above reasoning came out in a job interview as to why you chose to transfer colleges, you are certainly hurting your chances of getting hired. These just aren’t good enough reasons and reveal weakness or lack of confidence more than anything. Which is a part of life, but not the part you want to reveal in a job interview on why you made such a critical decision.
Critical Thinking, Adaptability and Stability are Important to Employers
Why does transferring colleges matter to employers? Well, it’s not the act itself that matters. It’s the why behind it that does.
Let’s say you are interviewing a college student and they proceed to tell you that they chose their college because that’s where their brother went. Then they realized that wasn’t a good fit because the college didn’t offer the major they wanted, so they had to transfer colleges their Sophomore year.
How does that sound to you? Sound bad to me. Because it is bad. That shows zero strategic thought and critical thinking skills. Zero. I wouldn’t hire this person no matter what.
And if you tend to jump around and show no stability or ability to adapt to your surroundings, this is another huge turn-off for employers.
It’s a risk anytime you hire someone. And, it’s even a higher risk when you hire a fresh college graduate. They have little to no experience to fall back on. So, employers will rely on a student’s college experience in making a hiring decision. If you come across as flaky or lack confidence, you’re raising that risk factor even higher!
Should you List all Colleges you Attended on a Resume?
It’s not necessary to list all of the colleges you’ve attended on a resume. Only the college you received your degree from is needed. But, you should put all colleges you’ve attended on an application. This is what companies use to conduct a background check and to verify education.
This doesn’t mean that your transfer(s) won’t come up in the interview, unless you try to hide it. I really don’t recommend you try and hide it. If your reasoning for transferring was valid, you should have nothing to hide!
Transferring colleges isn’t a bad idea at all – if you have a valid reason and if you go about it the right way.
Transferring colleges can be perceived negatively by employers if there is no strategy behind it. Starting out at a community college for your first two years and working your tail off to get into a university to get your bachelor’s degree is an awesome story. It shows grit, perseverance and strength.
These qualities are what impress employers and can be the determining factor on who gets the offer and who doesn’t.
But one thing is for sure, employers aren’t fighting over the student that transferred colleges because they missed their girlfriend. That decision certainly hurt the student’s chances of getting hired. Don’t be that student.
Anthony lives in Indiana with his wife and 3 daughters. His passions (besides his family) in no particular order are making and listening to music that pleases his ears, taking pictures (still & moving), avoiding crowded places and good writing. He also happens to be the Founder of Career Energy.