Whether it’s choosing to attend the wrong college or getting a tattoo of “Call Me Maybe” lyrics, sometimes we all make bad decisions. The good news is that it’s not too late to correct these mistakes. That’s what college transfers and lasers are for, respectively.
But how do you know for sure that you ended up at the wrong school? You’re a college freshman, so what real context do you have for judging your college experience? ABCFamily shows and American Pie movies aside, college is different for everyone, and there is no simple answer as to what those 4-ish years should consist of.
There are a few signs that you can be on the lookout for that might clue you in that you need to start looking elsewhere for your degree. These are factors that I noticed while going to a school that wasn’t quite right for me.
(For the sake of protecting this innocent school, I’ll say the name of this college was Atlantis State University.)
1. You’re Bored with Your Major
I chose to attend my original school because of the degree program I wanted to pursue, among other reasons. When students attend a school that has a great [insert name here] degree program, this puts a lot of pressure on the program. Basically, you have to make a decision in high school for what you want to do for the rest of your life based on little passions that you might have.
At ASU, I wanted to study journalism. With a love for writing, I felt like this was the best route. But once I actually started to go through the great journalism program that Atlantis State University, it quickly lost its appeal. Nothing against journalism – it just wasn’t the form of writing that felt the most natural to me.
But what can you do? You can change majors, of course – Atlantis State also has a great seahorse breeding degree – but your school might not offer anything else that fits your passion. ASU didn’t have another writing program that I really wanted, so I had to look elsewhere.
With sign #1 down, you might realize…
2. The (Financial) Cost Is Too High
Attending school in a lost, underwater city can be overbearingly expensive. I was an out-of-state student, for one, and I had to spend a lot of money traveling back and forth between my hometown and Atlantis. I had scholarships, sure, but the costs weighed on me worse than the water all around me.
With the price of college sky-rocketing, it just makes sense to look for ways to cut down your finances. Maybe that means searching for an in-state school, or maybe that means finding one where you might get more scholarship money.
The point is that while the money factor shouldn’t be #1 on your list (because you shouldn’t sacrifice your degree for money), but it is still definitely a sign that you should transfer schools.
Which ties in with…
3. You’re Too Far From Where You Actually Want To Be
Atlantis was great and all, but it just wasn’t where I wanted to be. It reeked too much of a party school, which included too many frat houses (how Greek influences found their way to the bottom of the ocean, I’ll never know). The environment didn’t matter as much if I had other features tying me there, such as loving my major, but that just wasn’t the case.
On the other hand, every time I came back to Chicago, I felt much more at home. My friends and family, the locations, and even just spending time there made me happier.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to find new friends and reasons to enjoy your new school, but that isn’t always possible. You can’t do your best in school if your environment feels foreign. If you love everything about where you attend college, you’ll be able to look back on those years much more fondly.
Leading us to sign #4…
4. The School Isn’t What It Appeared To Be
This is inclusive of just about everything on the list. As I mentioned in my introduction, it can be absurd for some high school students to make such a weighty decision as to where they should be spending the next four years. This isn’t true for everyone – lots of students have plans for college and everything goes according to it. I just know that some students, like myself, don’t really know what they are getting themselves into when picking schools.
Atlantis State sounded fantastic – it’s one of the only schools to which I even applied. Things aren’t always what they appear to be after time, though. Sure, I can look back and say, “Gee, if I knew then what I know now…” But that kind of thinking doesn’t help anything. You won’t know what is right for you until you’re already going through it.
Don’t be afraid to look for these signs. That’s why transferring schools can be a relatively painless process. I know that once I realized I wasn’t at the right school, I did something about it. And I am a lot happier because of it.