You Picked the Wrong College, Now What?

What to do if you picked the wrong college:

  • Ask yourself the hard questions.
  • Talk to your college advisor.
  • Consider your options.

Choosing a college is a major decision for several reasons. For one thing, it’s a huge investment of time and money and you want to make sure the investment is worth it. Moreover, the curriculum, faculty, extracurricular activities, networking opportunities, and other campus facilities can shape your overall college experience. Even the classroom size and campus location can make a difference. With so many factors to take into consideration, choosing the right college can be challenging. 

Sometimes, even after doing your due diligence and exploring all your options, you may still end up dissatisfied that you picked the wrong college. This is not entirely uncommon. So, what should you do if you picked the wrong college? Should you stick it out and complete your graduation from the same school or should you transfer? Are there any other options available to choose from? 

federal student aid

Flickr user Bradley Gordon

There is no single solution that’s right for everybody. The best option for you depends on several different factors. But first, it might help to work through exactly why you think you chose the wrong college and why you’re dissatisfied with your choice.  

Why Do You Feel Like You’ve Picked The Wrong College?

No matter how much you research or read about a college, it’s almost impossible to predict or imagine what the first-hand experience will be like. Whatever you read is someone else’s perspective and yours may be different. Even if you visit a campus in person, you may find that living on that very same campus 24/7 is nothing like you imagined it to be. Everything may appear great at first glance but there may be that one major thing that’s wrong and overshadows everything else. 

Before you make any decisions about whether to stay on or transfer, the first thing is to consider the current circumstances. The key is to identify why you’re unhappy. Once you figure that out, you can start exploring your options. 

Questions To Ask Yourself

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Am I unsatisfied with the overall curriculum or the course options to choose from? 
  • Do I find the academic rigor too challenging or not challenging enough? 
  • Is the class size too big to get the personalized attention I need? 
  • Why do I feel so unmotivated to attend class or complete my homework? 
  • Are there on-campus activities, sports, or clubs that appeal to my interests? 
  • What am I most disappointed about with my college experience? 
  • Do I feel boxed in on a rural campus with not many opportunities for refreshing outdoor activities? 
  • Am I bored with no museums or cultural events to attend close to my rural campus? Do I miss the culture and excitement of a city campus? 
  • Am I homesick and do I wish I lived on a campus closer to home? 

READ MORE > 5 Signs You Should Transfer to Another School

If you have a vague but persistent feeling of unhappiness but can’t pinpoint why, it may help to read about other students’ experiences. For example, many students dream of applying to some of the most prestigious colleges. They work hard on their grades and other aspects to get accepted but once college starts, they quickly realize that they picked the wrong college. The reality is the top colleges are all highly competitive.

Students are pressured to work hard and keep up with their equally competitive classmates. While some students thrive under constant pressure, it’s not for everyone. Many students realize this midway through their first year and choose to transfer to a less competitive college.

So, what makes you unhappy and why do you think you picked the wrong college? Once you’ve found the answer to this question, it’s time to work on the solution. 

Talk To A College Advisor

Before you make any drastic decisions, speak to a college advisor. You may not be able to see the solution that’s right in front of you and your college advisor may be able to help point out some great solutions. 

College advisors are objective and they’ve been through this several times before with other students. You’ll be surprised at how many students find themselves in situations that are similar to what you’re going through. 

After explaining the situation to the advisor, you may have better insight into whether or not the problem is with the school or with something else entirely. When discussing the circumstances with the advisor, it’s important to be as specific as possible about what’s causing your disappointment. This will help in identifying a solution that will work best for you.

For example, if you’re feeling desperately homesick, the only solution may be to look for a college closer to home. However, if the problem lies with the curriculum or the sports facility, then moving closer home will not resolve the issue. Instead, you will need to look for a school that offers something closest to your goals.

What To Expect If You Decide to Transfer 

Transferring to another school will cost you in terms of both time and money so you do want to think carefully about deciding to transfer. However, it is an option that’s open to you, which is always good to know. If you do decide to transfer, make sure that the new college has everything that you’re looking for. Don’t rush into applying for a transfer though. 

READ MORE > Your Guide to Transferring Colleges

Before you apply for a transfer to a new college, you must do your homework and find out which credits will transfer to your new college. Transferring credits from one school to another is not always smooth nor is it straightforward. Moreover, the process can be time-consuming. 

Speak to your college advisor about which credits will transfer to your school and find out the formalities and fees.  Also, find out about your financial aid. Some forms of student financial aid don’t transfer to your new school. Instead, some payments become due immediately when you apply for a transfer. You will then need to apply for financial aid separately for the new college. Transferring without completing all the financial and school formalities properly can create a lot of hassles for you further down the line.

READ MORE > 7 Ways Transferring Colleges Can Affect Financial Aid

Few Final Thoughts 

Picking the wrong college can feel disappointing and it is but it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not stuck with that wrong choice forever. Sure, it may be expensive and time-consuming to resolve the issue and find the right solution but there is a solution. Whether that solution is to stay in the same college or transfer colleges is something only you can decide in the end. Don’t let anybody else force you into choosing something you don’t want to.  

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