March 18, 2019
Deciding to transfer from one college to another can be difficult, but most students with LD are able to make a successful move if they understand their reasons for wanting to leave one campus for another.
Transferring to a different college usually comes down to one of two reasons: poor academic fit or the wrong social/emotional environment.
Knowing if the academic fit is inappropriate involves evaluating the following factors:
- Unavailable course of study: Transfer is warranted if a student decides on pre-professional training not offered at the current school, or if a departmental major does not support an academic interest. Many students enter college not knowing where their studies will lead. Somewhere along the line most figure it out, and when they do they need to be at a place that can prepare them for their intended field.
- Academic rigor: When students find themselves overwhelmed by academic demands, it’s time to look for less rigorous requirements. Similarly, students who do not feel challenged should seek an academic environment that excites and stimulates them.
- Learning support: Students entitled to learning support may find that academic arrangements in college are difficult to enact, troublesome to access, and erratic to maintain. Students with LD and their families often underestimate the amount of support that is necessary for academic success. Conversely, some students attending colleges with comprehensive support systems feel stifled by services they consider intrusive and extraneous.
Students with diagnosed LD should be aware of the accommodations to which they are entitled. Many students learn the hard way that individual professors do not acknowledge, accept, or abide by established guidelines. If advocacy and perseverance do not result in support, it is time to transfer.
At some colleges, there is still a stigma associated with accessing support for learning differences. Students who do not feel comfortable with the attitude surrounding accommodations are justified in seeking other campus communities.
When evaluating the social/emotional issues related to college success, students considering a transfer have an edge. The idealistic notions they harbored about college life have been tempered by reality. They know what inspires them and what deflates them.
Dissatisfaction with anything from campus culture and social life to food, housing, or location can prompt a student to consider other colleges, but it’s important to recognize that temporary frustration is not valid grounds for transferring.
Relationship issues, food issues, and activity complaints can usually be remedied while staying put. Students need to understand that similar problems exist on all campuses.
For students with learning differences, every juncture on the academic pathway should be marked with care and caution. The special attention paid to learning needs at the time of freshman applications should be enhanced, and not minimized, during the transfer process. One mistake will not derail the college process, but two could curtail it forever.
When considering why it might be wise to transfer, evaluate the bad reasons as seriously as the good ones. Students who don’t understand the factors that drive the transfer decision are doomed to repeat the problems in the second setting.