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Transferring for spring semester?

califacalifa Registered User Posts: 329 Member
edited November 2011 in Parents Forum
I really need some advice. D is a sophomore at Top 20 Private school. Last year was a difficult adjustment, but she wound up doing well. She's premed and is failing chemistry - now she thinks her dreams of being a doctor are over and wants to give up completely. (The weeder science classes are graded on a curve that ensures that a certain percentage will fail). She's also miserable at this school for other reasons which I won't go into here.

She's talked about transferring and I wonder if I should encourage her to do that - there are schools she's interested in that take transfers for spring semester, but she would have to move quickly - or should I encourage her to stick it out for this year and look into transferring next year? Thanks...

This was her dream school and it's turned out to be a nightmare.
Post edited by califa on

Replies to: Transferring for spring semester?

  • chaosakitachaosakita Registered User Posts: 1,439 Senior Member
    califa you seemed to changed the numbers from the last time you posted. Doesn't your daughter go to the University of Miami?
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    I'm wondering if transferring is the answer to the problem.

    I just reviewed what happened last year--the same thing. And in the end you say:
    Academically, it all worked out, and she actually made Dean's List. The class curve in those science classes helped

    Since she is on a large scholarship, she must be at the top of her cohort, so one has to wonder why she is having such a difficult time, particularly in curved courses.

    I'm not saying she shouldn't transfer, especially if there are other reasons why she's not liking her school, but it may not take care of her academic problems.
  • califacalifa Registered User Posts: 329 Member
    There are some other reasons she's unhappy there, which I won't go into here (sometimes she reads cc), and transferring might help with that.

    The way the curve is set in this class is a strict bell curve - grades are against other students, and she's competing with kids who had the AP course (and passed the exam) which wasn't even offered at her HS. Class rank and ECs helped her get the scholarship, plus she went in EA and that's a major factor.

    I checked out the ratemyprofessor notes and other students have had the same complaints about the science classes (last time a good grade on the final helped a lot). Have to admit I was skeptical about what she said about the science professor, but the comments there bear her out.
  • menloparkmommenloparkmom Registered User Posts: 11,951 Senior Member
    "The way the curve is set in this class is a strict bell curve - grades are against other students, and she's competing with kids who had the AP course (and passed the exam) which wasn't even offered at her HS."

    she is going to find that is the case at most colleges in science classes. That said, there is nothing stopping her from dropping the class, taking some lower level chemistry classes to get her up to the academic level of AP and then taking it again.

    If she is serious about transferring, USC and Columbia accept a lot of transfer student, USC especially[ 1000/ year] . IF she had the stats to win a scholarship as a freshman, then she may be awarded one as a transfer at USC as well.They also have a very generous FA program, even for transfer students.
  • limabeanslimabeans Registered User Posts: 4,751 Senior Member
    Transferring isn't always the answer. Here are some considerations:
    scholarships These don't always transfer with the student. You'll have to explore this on a case-by-case basis.
    academics These may be just as challenging as at her current school. Many schools often even use the same textbooks. Chem class is a weeder class in most schools. Has she decided to move away from the pre-med track?
    timing Always a factor too, but it's still early if she's thinking of transferring for the 2012 fall semester. I wouldn't advise entering in the spring semester, just because it's a more difficult time. Most new kids don't start mid-year. Her dorm may be an issue, with a student who was used to not sharing or with a student whose RM is studying abroad-- often juniors. And it may seem too impulsive.
    "other factors" The may follow her. Watch what you wish for.

    Here's what you need to consider when contemplating whether to transfer or not: think about the school where she's considering to transfer. What are its advantages? If you focus on what she'd gain rather than what she'd leave behind, she'd make a clearer decision.
  • califacalifa Registered User Posts: 329 Member
    Thanks, menloparkmom and limabeans. I'm encouraging her to drop the class - it's past the deadline but there is always a way to get around that (I teach at a fourth tier state university and it happens all the time - they just have to get the signature of the professor, department chair, and dean of the school, which is easy enough). Hope that she'll drop the class and decide to focus on her other courses, which are going well. I don't think she realizes that an F looks much worse than a W.

    At Fourth Tier Public, the science classes are curved, but not so that some students are guaranteed to fail. So transferring to an easier school could be helpful that way, since from reading CC's premed forum, the prestige of the undergrad college doesn't make that much difference.

    She doesn't want to move away from the premed track. I don't know if one bad semester will derail her completely from that.

    That's a good point about timing. Maybe she would be better off to stick it out this year and look into transferring for the fall.

    I'll encourage her to look at what she has to gain by transferring, and think about where she would like to go. One advantage would be that a problem she's having now is that a family member near where she is now is causing problems, and if she transfers, it's unlikely (but not guaranteed) that she will be away from this person.

    The scholarship covers only part of tuition, so if she decides to transfer to one of the in-state public schools, it will actually cost a little less than where she is now. The main factor is that if this school isn't a good fit for her, maybe she would be happier and do better somewhere else.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    It's a long time ago, but I went to a "top 20" private. (Actually, it's #1 LAC). In those days, biology rather than chemistry was the weed-out course for pre-meds. (I took it, and was an English major, so go figure.) Strict curve. There were 130 students or so. The college boasted (and still boasts) that more than 90% of applicants get into med school. But there were never more than 30-35 of them.

    Now the reality was that some of those students shouldn't have been pre-med. But it is also equally true that 80 or so of those students would be wonderful doctors today had they gone to a second-tier state school. (And, because they likely would have been top students, had more research opportunities, more mentoring, and better med. school recommendations.)

    No sense of staying with a nightmare, if it really is one.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,355 Senior Member
    She needs to learn/handle chemistry to continue with her dream of medical school. If she overreached in choosing her general chemistry course she needs to take a course not requiring as much prerequisite knowledge if offered by her school. She can always apply and be accepted to another school and make the final transfer decision between semesters. If chemistry has become a mental block she should back off from the premed dream for now and take courses she actively likes, no matter where she attends college.

    Take the medical school requirements out of the equation and have her decide what she would major in and which courses she would take. Would she like her present school without the pressures of premed courses? Since 2/3 of medical applicants won't get in everyone needs an alternative career plan. It is possible she hasn't considered alternates that are equally intellectually satisfying and interesting. Many HS students don't know of the many other fields they could use their talents in and get into the premed frame of mind. If she backs off from this for now she can always come back to it later- there is no need to apply to medical school immediately after a BS/BA degree.

    Eons ago I chose medical school over grad school in Chemistry (I've had my share of chemistry of course)- wasn't formally premed in intentions until junior year. Did my chemistry senior honors thesis in a Pharmacology lab. If I had to do it all over again maybe I would have chosen that field, I also see much, much more biological chemistry available now than in my day. Your D may not like chemistry like I did and should consider fields where it isn't as important. Nothing sacred/best about being an MD.

    I'm in a rambling mood at present, won't try to edit. The bottom line is that dropping the premed intention now may take a lot of pressure away and make other problems lessen.
  • califacalifa Registered User Posts: 329 Member
    Mini, thank you for sharing your experiences. It sounds so much like what D is going through. Part of the problem is the curve, and part is that top schools hire science professors based on research rather than teaching, and often outstanding researchers just aren't effective teachers.

    I would hate for D to lose her dream when she could have made it at a second tier state school, and been happier there too. More than one student posted on ratemyprofessors about leaving premed because of this course and professor.

    Wis75, thank you for such good suggestions. I don't think she actually hates or can't handle chemistry - she had to work for her A's in high school honors chemistry, but the teacher was very good. Here it has become such a nightmare that backing off for a while would be a good idea, if she would consider it.

    Do you think she should stick with it or try to drop the course and focus on her other classes? Realistically, given the curve the best she could probably get is a C, and there's a chance she will fail. The school allows students to retake one failed class and only the second grade affects the GPA, but both show up on the transcript.

    I'll try to encourage her to think about other possibilities. Last year, when I told her about how many premeds do not get accepted in medical school, she said she has no Plan B. She's interested in primary care, so DO would be an option. I'll suggest she talk to her advisor about other career possibilities.

    It's good to know that medical schools are more open to nontraditional applicants than they were in the past. For next semester I'll encourage her to take classes she enjoys - and if she gets a degree in an unrelated field, she could go back and take the science classes, but I don't know if she'll consider that right now.

    It is so hard to see her dream being destroyed, and hope that if premed is over, that she can find other options that would be as rewarding.

    Sorry I'm too tired to edit this.
  • geomomgeomom Registered User Posts: 742 Member
    I think she should drop the course. It's just chemistry, not a marriage, there's no repercussions for learning it a later date.

    Secondly she could transfer for spring, or she could take some time off. If she is seriously pre-med, maybe she could get EMT certification and then get some hands-on experience before resuming as an undergrad at a different school next fall.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,063 Senior Member
    Califa, I've seen this scenario dozens of times.

    I would encourage you to stop using language like "see her dreams being destroyed". I know you're venting on an anonymous board, but if she (or you) are actually speaking like that in real life it's not helpful- and may be hurtful.

    This is America. Nobody's dreams get destroyed by one bad grade or one (or even two) bad semesters. I know lots of doctors who got there via plan B or C- either flunking out or dropping out, or studying music or philosophy and then deciding to go to med school in their 30's after doing something completely different. So walk away from the cliff!

    IMHO your D's first task is to figure out a way to make chemistry passable. If that means dropping it now- and retaking it with a better professor next semester- do that. If that means going to every review session and finding a study group- do that. If it means sitting down with the professor and saying, "I am going to pass this class and I need you to help me come up with a plan to do that"- well, she should do that.

    There is more than enough time to worry about med school or transferring or whatnot. But first she needs to talk to her professor (even if she drops the class- she still needs to have that conversation.) She may be surprised. I think professors don't mind flunking a kid who seems to be phoning it in. I think they have a hard time- curve be damned- flunking a kid who is putting heart and soul into passing.

    There are dozens of fine careers your D may love more than being an MD. There are clinical psychologists who now do the talk therapy that managed care no longer pays for with an MD- and those folks save lives every day. There are genetic counselors and people who recruit and manage patients for clinical trials. There are nutritionists and geriatric case managers and nurse practitioners.... you get my drift.

    But all of them have taken and passed chemistry and your D will too.

    And can I respectfully suggest that whatever family issues are taking up mental space in your D's brain (you alluded to a family member causing trouble) go on the backburner for now? Even if your D was having a swell time in college, is it fair for her to have to worry about a distracting relative???? How much more so if she needs to knuckle down and get through the semester.

    Just my two cents.
  • califacalifa Registered User Posts: 329 Member
    Geomom, thanks - I'm hoping that she will be able to drop the course. I would be fine with her taking a semester off, or transferring in the spring, or enrolling in courses she likes and transferring in the fall. It's heartbreaking that she is so unhappy.

    Blossom, what you wrote is helping a lot. Hope you don't mind if I pass it on to D! She's been saying her "life is over" - you're so right about language like that hurting her (I vent here but would never say that to her).

    I wish she'd realize that many doctors return (and somewhere I read that med schools are a little easier on nontraditional applicants with real world experience - the days of having to go straight through are long gone).

    Will tell her that even if she drops the class, she has nothing to lose by talking to the professor. She does have to find a way to make chemistry doable - she liked it in high school, and now she is growing to hate the subject, which is not helping. But if ratemyprofessor is to be believed, this professor has a reputation for being unhelpful - one student posted about going for help and being told there was nothing that could be done. I expected better of the professors at this school - but it's possible that the professor might respond better to her than to the other student.

    This is such a difficult age. I've told her that no one's dreams are derailed by a bad semester, but she doesn't seem to believe me. Last year was difficult, but she came through it fine, and now for the first time it looks like she could fail the class if she can't drop because of doing so poorly on this one test.

    It's a fine line - trying to encourage her to explore other options without discouraging her from pursuing her dream. But the sad reality is that many people who would have been wonderful doctors are derailed by weeder classes. I just want her to be happy.

    I wish there was a way to get this relative out of the picture, but he's where she is now and she can't seem to get him out of her life. One advantage of transferring for the spring would be getting away from that.

    Again, thanks. You've helped so much.
  • pcazpcaz Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    My D had dreamed of becoming a doctor since high school, attended a top LAC and ended up dropping chemistry after the first semester. The weed-out process caused her confidence to waver, and thus, she ended up double majoring in political science and human rights. But her human rights internships led her right back to medicine. So after graduating cum laude, she took a year off to work for a doctor in NYC, attended the post-bac program at Harvard, and is now attending Dartmouth Medical School.

    There is indeed hope...
  • MomofbassistMomofbassist Registered User Posts: 698 Member
    Chemistry is a weeder at most schools and many times it depends on the professor. She could drop and retake the course next semester with another professor. Be sure that she checks with the college to make certain that she would still be carrying at least a full time amount of credits so it won't hurt scholarships and financial aid. Since half of the course will be review, it will boost her confidence and improve her grade.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,539 Senior Member
    D hated her matches and safeties, and had her heart set on Top Private School - and got in. Now she hates it there because she's surrounded by very wealthy kids, and worse than that, she's premed and is failing chemistry because this school's science weeder courses are graded according to a bell curve that ensures that the kids at the bottom of the class fail. She's at a disadvantage because most of them had AP chemistry, which her HS didn't offer.

    Now she thinks her dreams of medical school are over.

    She's thinking about transferring to another school for spring semester.

    It would have been better if she hadn't gotten in this school.

    If I remember correctly from an earlier thread of yours, your D is at UMiami and you were having earlier problems with her and her demands (car, private apt, etc)?

    I think she needs to leave that school at the end of this semester if she can get into your instate public which will be more affordable and likely her GPA will improve since there will be less "top students" fighting for those limited number of A's in the weeder classes.

    What state are you in?

    Since your D feels economically disadvantaged at this school (and that bothers her), it's not a good fit for her at all.
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