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Too early to consider transferring?

confused89confused89 2 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited December 2007 in Parents Forum

I'm currently in my first year at our local flagship state university and thinking of transferring to a smaller LAC (most likely Reed, but also interested in Brandeis, Swarthmore, and Rice). I've had a very rough quarter and am unsure if I'm making the right decision or if I should just stick it out a couple more quarters?

I think the main problem I've had is that my college search was not very extensive. For years, I dreamed of attending an extremely prestigious university, but at the last minute I decided to only apply to our local flagship. It is an excellent school; affordable, beautiful campus, and close to home. I was able to transfer a ton of credits and started in the fall with junior standing. From the outside, I think my situation probably looks pretty close to ideal.

Personally though, I'm really struggling here. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and have just started to deal with that in therapy recently. At the time that I chose to attend this school, I did not think about the abuse much. However, as it got closer to move-in day, I started to have more and more nightmares and flashbacks. My abuser also lives on campus here and I find I am constantly worried about where he might be, even though I know logically that I am safe now and he can't hurt me any more. I have trouble sleeping here and am not able to focus very well on my schoolwork. I also am struggling to deal with other psychological issues at the moment (OCD, disordered eating, etc.) that are likely made worse by the situation I have gotten myself into.

I think that it would probably be best to transfer to a college away from him, but I am not entirely sure that this is the right decision. I don't know how I would explain it to my parents, as they do not know much about what happened when I was younger. They were so happy to see me attend this school, but I'm miserable here. I am within a couple quarters of getting a degree if I can stick it out a little longer, but part of me feels like I should have a chance to enjoy college, too. I don't want to remember college like it has been this quarter.

I also don't really know about how realistic my chances are at transferring right now. Although I got a 4.0 this summer in the classes I took at my college, I have had a hard time this quarter. I was hoping some of you might know if there's a way to explain my situation if I decide to transfer. Would it be reasonable to include a letter from a professional about the circumstances this quarter? I don't really want to scare colleges off with my problems and I also don't want to look like I'm using it as an excuse, but I am normally a very good student and I'm afraid my grades this quarter might not reflect that.
edited December 2007
12 replies
Post edited by confused89 on
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Replies to: Too early to consider transferring?

  • cangelcangel 4054 replies73 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    Confused - what resources does your university have for counseling? You need to get some professional advice and help. You also need to talk to your parents, and level with them, but you may want to get some pro help and support first. I'm thinking that if the abuser is known to them, possibly even in the family, then it may be difficult to tell them or events after they are told may be unpleasant - you will need support during that.

    If your grades are tanking, and your parents don't know why and what happened, they can only blame you.

    Get some pro help, we cannot truly help you on this internet board - we can only be supportive and concerned.
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  • WebbieWebbie 92 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    Student activity fees normally cover free counseling at colleges and universities. Please call them for an appointment, and tell them it's important. Otherwise you might have to wait a couple of weeks. You can physically run from this problem by transferring, but you won't escape it until you get some help. If in fact you do try to transfer, having gone to the counseling center for help may be a factor the new institution will look favorably upon; recognizing you need help, and asking for it, is a sign of maturity.
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  • confused89confused89 2 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I probably wasn't very clear in my original post, but I have been in counseling for several months, already. I am well taken care of here, with a counselor, nutritionist, and psychiatrist that I see almost every week. Although it's sometimes a hassle to try to fit in the 2-3 appointments every week, I am thankful for all of the help I've received already.

    I guess I was wondering more about how I should handle transferring, if I do decide to. I don't really know if this topic is too taboo to bring up when applying. I'm nervous because I normally am a very good student, but I've really struggled this quarter.

    Thanks for the replies so far cangel and webbie.
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  • cangelcangel 4054 replies73 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    Good, Confused. Now to discuss transferring. You have 2 obstacles to transfer, particularly to a LAC - one is "bad grades" first semester. You don't know yet how bad, but let us assume they aren't As. Second obstacle is that you have junior standing. Do some searches, I can't get you to the thread now, but last week there was a thread from an individual who could not get into certain selective LACs - maybe Wellesley? - because this person had too many credits. I'm not at all certain that you situation is the same, but that "junior standing" is a big red flag.
    I don't think that your situation is too taboo, particularly if treated sensitively and carefully in an essay. The more practical issues are whether or not you are ready to be successful again in school - for example, I notice that you are interested in LACs on either coast, one or the other is going to be a long way from home, are you prepared to deal with new therapists, etc - and could you get the LAC to look at you as a first time freshman, perhaps discounting or ignoring the bad grades. I think the LAC's willingness to do that will depend on many things - how bad are those grades, how strong a candidate were you originally, how selective is the LAC, on and on. If you, you parents and your therapists feel that you are turning the corner emotionally, and ready for the pressures and responsibilities of a full course load, then I would suggest preparing your "packet" - with at least unofficial copies of your high school transcript and college transcript - and call the admissions person in charge of transfers at one of the schools you are considering. I'd probably call the least selective school, and/or the one closest to home. I think it would be best if you could talk to this person in person - schedule a meeting. I suggested having your high school packet, in case he wants to read something, even though that wouldn't be a real application.
    What you want to learn from this person is what do I need to do to get into this school - take fewer classes, just apply, sit out a semester? What would my status be? Should I forgo any AP credits, or college credits earned in high school? Taking those credits worked well at the uni, but might actually stop you from being admitted to the LAC. Only the admit person can help you with that.
    I would think going through that exercise in person will prepare you for questions to ask the other transfer officers over the phone, because some issues will have to be addressed at each school.
    Finally, just the fact that you have called, met with these people, prepared your resume, asked the pertinent questions, etc, etc, will help assure the LAC that you are well and ready to learn.
    I would handle the grade/ abuse issue in a face to face interview with some version of this "My grades were poor in my first semester because of some health issues that I would prefer to discuss in an essay. I had a hard time for awhile, but I've had treatment, I'm much better, and I really want to complete my education in an intimate environment like X" I'm sure you can express this even better.

    Also, are your grades toast now? Can you discuss with your profs ways to improve them? Are you in danger of flunking or is this As going to Cs? It may be too late, but maybe not if you have missed a lot of work - incompletes might be better.
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  • confused89confused89 2 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thank you for your reply, cangel. You've certainly given me a lot to think about.

    I was not aware of the credits issue. I'm not worried at all about problems with transferring the credits, but I didn't realize that it could actually prevent me from being admitted if I have "too many." I hope that's not the case. I have a lot already and theoretically, could probably graduate with a degree here in a couple quarters if I could pull my act together.

    Right now, I think that I would apply to transfer for Fall 2008, which would allow me about nine more months to work on these issues. I would hope that this time would allow me to work more intensely on dealing with my past and I'd like to continue taking one class each quarter at my university, as it is an upper-level foreign language series that is not offered at many schools. I have an A in that class right now, but I almost dropped it at the beginning of the year. I was overwhelmed and talked to the professor, who has been wonderful. I did not tell her about everything in detail, but just that I was having a little bit of a hard time adjusting to college. She checks in with me every month or so now, which is so nice. I enjoy that class very much, there is only 10-15 other students and we all have a great time.

    I do not like my other classes. They are the large ones, where they pack 200-300 people into the lecture hall and the professor doesn't know your name. I withdrew from one of my classes (the last in the physics series) a couple weeks ago and am not sure how I'm doing in my other one (the last in the calculus series). I was doing above average until the most recent midterm, which I'm pretty sure I did very poorly on. I understand most of the material, but I had a tough appointment the day before and could not motivate myself to study for the midterm much at all. I am hoping for a B in that class, but have no idea about my grade right now, as it is curved. This worries me a lot, as I think my final grade could probably end up being anywhere from an A to an F. I added an online class right after dropping my physics lecture class, where my final grade is probably going to be an A or B. So realistically, my grades right now aren't completely horrible, but they are not up to my standards and I have a W from the class I dropped. I am extremely disappointed in myself for not being able to do as well as I know I could and am afraid it's going to hurt me when trying to transfer.

    I also don't mean to sound conceited, but I think my high school record was pretty strong. I got a 3.7 GPA in hard classes, 34 ACT, and had lots of interesting extracurriculars. I was really lucky and many of my teachers and friends encouraged me to apply to MIT and Cornell, but I decided I would just stay instate. The school that I chose is really almost perfect for me, except for the large size and other circumstances.

    Thank you again for your reply, cangel. I really like your idea of a "packet" and some of the LACs I'm interested in are within a couple hours (by car) of home. I do think it might be a good idea to go visit them and just talk to the people there. Especially if I'm able to explain my poor grades in relation to the "health issue", I've struggled with this quarter. I think that would be really good.
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    If you are only talking about one semester you can take next semester off, do something interesting and call it a gap year. If your grades this semester are really a problem you can use your high school transcript and 4.0 from summer courses.

    Then, you could apply to LAC's as a freshman, not a transfer. The only problem is that LAC's will probably not give you AP credit so would be a freshman, thereby having to repeat two years of credits. Perhaps the opposite strategy is best: take intersession and summer classes and graduate as soon as possible determined not to let your abuser control your life.

    Good luck!
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  • anxiousmomanxiousmom 5783 replies105 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,888 Senior Member
    Mythmom - you have to disclose all your college transcripts - not just the ones you want to show them!
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  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom 4377 replies84 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    Great advice, cangel!
    It seems to me that you have probably two or three weeks left in this semester. I would advise shelving the transfer issue until finals are over. You can really push in the next 15-21 days and make a big impact on this semester's grades, then have the winter break to actively investigate your other options. You give yourself more choices with better grades this semester.
    I'm gald to hear that you are getting the support you need...you sound very capable. Good luck on your finals!
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  • mythmommythmom 8292 replies13 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    Why would one have to disclose all college transcript if one were willing to forego the credits? Especially if the OP withdrew from classes there'd be no transcripts to show.

    When kids flunk out of schools and attend community college, they don't always show these earlier schools when they transfer to a four year institution; they just show the cc transcript.

    I would interested to know if one were legally bound to reveal this information.
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12386 replies534 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,920 Senior Member
    Colleges considering transfer applicants ask where students have matriculated, even if they withdrew from classes. To not disclose this would be a BIG MISTAKE, in the eyes of the college considering the transfer applicantion.
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  • worried_momworried_mom 2157 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,205 Senior Member
    mythmom - All colleges want to know your COMPLETE educational history and ask for it on their application forms. You can't just pick and choose what you want to tell them.

    For example, the following question appears on the Common App (which is used for transfers as well as freshman admissions): "List all other colleges or universities, including summer schools as well as summer and other programs you have attended, beginning with your first year of college."

    The applicant has to sign a statement that all of the information provided is "factually true and honestly presented." Ignoring flunk outs is certainly contrary to that statement.
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  • ctParent2006ctParent2006 368 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 376 Member
    I second the advice from cangel and the others above. Please also remember that the transfer application deadlines are usually a bit later than for Regular Admissions so you have some time to work this through.

    Just do the best you can in your courses and in adjusting to being at college. Talk to other students to select Professors in the next term that are highly rated by your peers and perhaps look for areas with smaller class sizes. Since you have a lot of placement credit you may be able to concentrate only on "fun" courses for a term without being bogged down with required courses in areas that may not be of interest to you.

    It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Good luck.
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