Changing Colleges? Four Things to Consider Before Making a Move

If you are student who is thinking about changing colleges, you need to think about the costs in time, money and college credits before you decide to switch.

Why transfer?

transferring-collegesStudents switch colleges midway through their education for many reasons. Sometimes it may be simply a matter of continuing from a two-year school to a four-year school or pursuing a program of study that isn’t offered at their original college of choice.

Other times there is a financial or personal situation that necessitates a move to a school closer to home. And finally, sometimes students change schools because they may be in the wrong college, city or region of the country or realize they don’t want to attend a large college or live in a small town.

 Money matters

Changing colleges can be costly, even if the school the student wants to transfer to participates in Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Under this program undergraduate Idaho students who meet academic requirements may enroll in a participating state institution in other Western states at a reduced tuition rate.

But many schools do not offer the exchange program to transfer students, only to incoming freshman. Every exchange school’s eligibility guidelines are different. Students also need to factor in any scholarships they might be relinquishing by transferring schools.

Course work considerations

Understanding how courses transfer also is important.  Basically, there are three types of college courses and credits:

General Education or “Core” courses are usually taken during the first two years of a four-year program and may be required of all students at a college, regardless of their major. While not part of a student’s “major” course work, core classes are often pre-requisites to more advanced courses. Usually general education course work transfers with little loss of credit; it is just sometimes not “general” enough for a complete change of education direction.

Courses in the Major are determined by a college as necessary for obtaining the degree offered in the chosen field of study. These courses typically begin in the third year of a four-year degree. Requirements for the same major often differ between schools. And if a student decides on a new major at a new school after completing three years of college, he or she can count on losing time and money in the form of new, previously unrequired course work.

Electives are courses that are not part of a major field of study and are not included in general education requirements, but still count toward a degree. Elective credits usually transfer straight across from one school to the next. In fact, if the student has core or major course work that is not accepted by the new school, then some of these credits may be counted as electives by the new school.

What to do?

Students should weigh the cost of transferring schools against how dissatisfied they really are at their current college or university. The answer will probably come down to money vs. the “unhappiness factor.”

Get a leg up on your career by using the Department of Labor’s Idaho Career Information System (CIS) to learn more about things to consider  when choosing a college.

— Anne Orzepowski, CIS Training, Support and Marketing Specialist