South alumni transfer colleges, offer advice to current students


Photo courtesy of COD Newsroom

COLLEGE CHOICES: Faced with the choice of where to attend college, many current high school students get ideas from college fairs, like the one in DuPage, IL shown above. Some students may end up unhappy at their first college and will transfer sometime in the future.

Lorelei Streb, staff reporter

The constant worry of college applications is ripe in some juniors’ and seniors’ minds. What college will be right for them? Does this college meet their educational and social needs? Sometimes when a student spends time at a college, it doesn’t feel right for them. So they decide to transfer to a college that will better fit their needs.

John Klasen, director of college counseling, said that there are numerous reasons why students may transfer colleges.

“Comfort level is one of the reasons [why a student would transfer schools],” Klasen said. “Not feeling comfortable at the school [students] decided to go to [is another reason]. The other piece is some students might go further away from home, and feel that that distance becomes a factor in that decision, too.”

Anna Busch, GBS alumni and sophomore at Iowa State, said that she first started her freshman year of college at Goucher College. At Goucher, Busch said the school was going through a lot of changes to try to attract a new student body. According to Busch, she wasn’t really sure what she wanted to study, and although she had an idea of a path, she wasn’t confident in that path and wanted to explore new opportunities.

“Goucher gave me a good platform for [learning], but after a while I realized that because I was spending so much time exploring new classes and new ideas, I wasn’t really creating a foundation that I could build off of,” Busch said.

During high school, Busch felt a lot of pressure to go to a liberal arts school. She also said that a lot of her friends were choosing Ivy League schools and liberal arts colleges, which made her think differently about bigger state schools.

“I felt like a lot of my friends were going a certain path that meant that I also had to go that certain path, and I just think I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on where I went to school,” Busch said.

Learning from experience, Busch advises juniors and seniors to put less pressure on themselves, not think about what schools friends may be going to and focus on trying to make the decision for themselves only.

Klasen advises students do a little “soul-searching” in terms of what they are looking for. Similarly, while transferring colleges is always an option, Busch understands the value of trying to stay at the current school in order to be sure that the decision is right.

“Definitely give yourself a year, I’ve had friends who switched at the semester, and I just feel like that’s so early,” Busch said. “Maybe if they had stayed they could have found something they would have fallen in love with.”

Busch says students should aim high when applying to colleges. Nevertheless, Busch says selectivity and prestige does not necessarily define whether a school is going to make a student happy. The college conversation needs to shift more towards reaching for personal educational goals rather than admission criteria, according to Busch.

“I am grateful for the very different experiences I have had at my two schools and don’t regret my path at all,” Busch said. “I don’t view transferring as having made a mistake with my first college but rather learning what I really wanted and pursuing new and more challenging opportunities.”