Furman or back to home state school????

Trying to decide if it is worth it to pull my kid out of Furman and return to state school which has a pretty good reputation. Furman is expensive even with the bell scholarship. Distance to home was hard being far away. Its a suitcase campus which I worried about when we looked at the school originally Friday at noon on the tour and I said where is everyone??? Barely anyone walking around campus it seemed deserted… I know kids have a rough time till they are totally connected at college so I understand that, they did a sport and then dropped it which sort of didn’t matter, but most of the friends they met vis sport also quit and transferred out after freshman year. Anyone who has an ounce of socialness to them and wants more than a small high school experience Furman doesn’t offer it. Flip side. Point of college is an education and my child went from sort of ok grades in high school and studying to an amazing student really great grades and in my opinion really learning this time and motivated by those around them and professors having a vested interest in my child… many pre-med, pre-law students. However my child looking at all the fun at rah rah state schools friends go to and Furman being very quiet made them sort of unhappy. My kid made amazing smart driven athletic and beautiful rich friends who aren’t necessarily “cool” drink you under the table party kids but a really nice change from the north. So Furman is expensive, far, and like a small high school and quiet. The state school is very close to home, less expensive, more people to meet but maybe not the driven types and comfortableness that a small school would be as a somewhat shy-er kid. Furman is a great school… just super small and far and not well known up north in a big city where they would return to when looking for a job. Furman is respected by other universities but not sure HR in companies recognize it up north. Don’t know what to do. My child could go either way and I would pay the exorbitant tuition for them to stay at Furman if they were super happy which they are waffling with…its just ok not great. Cliques are formed at Furman like high school so if you are having some friend issues with your group its the death of your social life because its hard to re-establish yourself at a tiny school there are no new people to meet. HELP! I love the schools reputation with other universities and academic developments I have seen in my child, hate to see them struggle with the smallness of the study body. Just not sure if it is worth it to stick it out in this expensive school hoping it gets better or just give up and come home.

Trying to distill some thoughts from your post. Who is initiating this idea of a transfer, you, for costs, or your student? Was Furman their choice? You say they could take or leave it which from a student angle doesn’t seem strong enough reason to make a transfer. It sounds like the student is having a great academic experience. Also a semester isn’t very long! Maybe re visit at end of year? And/or look into the possibility of departmental scholarships down the line to help with the cost at Furman?

As for me, I would take the school where my son was thriving academically over a school with more local name recognition any day. I believe that a college experience at a good fit where one can thrive and be challenged and explore will lead to adult and career success more than having a particular name on the resume. But I realize, this is not taking your cost and social life factors into consideration.

@helpdeciding Hi, I am sorry you and your son are going through this. I am very interested in seeing what people say as my son applied to Furman EA and should be hearing soon. It seems perfect on paper minus the small size and potential costs. He too wanted a big school but he is keeping an open mind on all fronts. We are from the north as well so the weather would be lovely! lol

OP wrote: That Furman is like a small high school with lots of cliques that empties out on weekends.

College is about much more than academics–it is also about personal growth.

The two most common complaints that I have heard about Furman University over the past few decades is that it is too much like high school and too judgmental.

The two most common compliments focused on academic quality & on attractiveness of the campus & student body.

OP: Based on your thoughts–which I find to be clear & sincere–your son or daughter should transfer as he or she needs more than is being provided by this school.

OP: My concern is that, based on your prior posts, it appears that Penn State may be your “home state school” and that transferring from small (under 2,700 students) Southern Furman University to 40,000 student PSU-University Park might be too much of an adjustment.

It might be helpful to start a thread asking about schools which offer financial aid or merit aid to transfer students. With respect to Southern schools, consider Vanderbilt University, the University of Mississippi (especially if interested in accounting & data analysis), as well as Auburn & Alabama.

This is a very helpful thread for me as my D20 applied EA. That is good info to know @Publisher. My D is looking for quality education and connections with professors, but not an extension of HS and a judgmental environment. She has some anxiety and depression (as many of our teens do now) and some self confidence issues as well. Thankfully Furman was not in her top 4, but I was thinking about bringing her to look at it again. Maybe I’ll think twice.

@helpdeciding My advise would be to apply to the state school you’re talking about, if it’s not too late, but also finish out the semester at Furman. First semester is hard for most kids. My S19 went to school over 1,000 miles away and had many ups and downs this past semester. If he gets accepted into the state school for the fall see how he feels about that. It’s crazy to pay private school tuition if your kiddo will be just as happy (maybe happier) at an in state school with a good reputation!!

@mamawitch: I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting & considering Furman University as it works for some.

Schools which may be attractive to your daughter might be Davidson College, Wash & Lee University, Rhodes College among others.

I will only speak to your concern of Furman being know up north. I think it is now. It is well regarded even in the north. Good luck with your decision.

My son applied EA for admission next Fall. We visited last Fall and loved the campus. We were thinking of going back for another visit after EA admissions come out in the next few weeks. I have a couple of questions based on the posts above and was hoping some of the parents with kids currently at Furman could answer. I am not questioning anyone’s comments…just would like a better picture of what parents think is going on. Thanks for any info.

  1. I am not sure what to make of the comments about cliques and students being from the North. Is it harder for kids from Northern states to fit in and find friends? My son is also from a northern mid-western state.
  2. There are several comments suggesting that Furman was a "suitcase campus." Are there a large number of local kids that go home for the weekend?
  3. I don't think that very many small universities (like Furman) have the same kind of party culture that seems to exist at large state schools. Are the concerns that there is a complete lack of social life or just that there aren't the same kind of parties as bigger schools? Is there a lack of community or school spirit?

Furman University is not a party school. Off campus parties are frequently “visited” by local police walking through the house checking for underage drinkers / drinking.

As the parent of a Furman grad, I would have to disagree with a lot of what I’m reading here. I am a few years removed now, but it was definitely not a suitcase school. My daughter attended from NJ and there was never a problem with coming from the North. Furman is a very friendly and welcoming place. There are also no problems getting jobs in the NE after graduation. She landed a great job in Manhattan and there are a lot of other grads there too because they get together for various things. Of her friends that I got to know, some are working in Boston, DC and even Seoul.

DD is extremely social and had a wonderful experience there. Never once did I hear any complaints about cliques or it being a high school experience. I would agree that it doesn’t offer the same party atmosphere as a large state school, but she was never lacking for social opportunities and activities. She had plenty to do every weekend (and definitely did her share of partying) but was always back in the library on Sunday night because the classwork is rigorous. Downtown Greenville is great and they spent a lot of time there.

OP, I’m sorry for your struggle. But what you describe is very different from our experience there or anything I’ve heard from other Furman families. I hope that your student can get involved with some campus groups that might provide a greater sense of school spirit because I know it’s there.

@Publisher Thanks for your input. You mentioned police visits to off-campus parties. At many Northern schools, police will arrest under age drinkers instead of giving a warning and turning over to university authorities (as was done back in my day). Do you know how Furman and the police handle these issues? Thank you.

I do not know how incidents are handled. Underage drinking is not a huge problem at Furman University as the students are aware of the strict enforcement.

The average first year retention rate (of freshmen students) is about 91%–which is very good. This retention rate is similiar to that at Conn College, Trinity College, and Dickinson College.

Thank you, @Publisher!

I have to agree with @GRITS80 . The Furman description from OP is unrecognizable.
My daughter is a senior at Furman and her experience has been fabulous. She has a wide and diverse circle of friends and her experience has not at all been “high schoolish”. She came from a highly ranked magnet school so her high school experience was probably a more mature environment than many others without a lot of that drama. Furman has been a good step up from even from that. She rushed but chose not to join a sorority. She has, however, gotten connected with other groups within campus. She has not shared even one complaint about any cliques. She did a study abroad in which she knew only 2 out of 18 students but had a great time. She is an introvert but has been able to make great and probably long-lasting friends just by joining several campus groups. Her weekends are full of social activity and are almost always spent at Furman and in Greenville. Just check out the FUSAB or the clubs’ calendars and you will see tons of week end opportunity. There is no reason for a student to think there is nothing to do on the weekend. Most of her friends, even those who live close by, stay there over weekends.

As for the post-Furman future, she has gotten an impressive fellowship in DC lined up for next year and a Masters program lined up thereafter. Several of her friends have job offers from Wall Street, elsewhere in the NE, think tanks in DC, jobs in Dallas and the West Coast (those not already going to grad school.) I think if you research, you will find that the big name employers and big name grad schools know all about Furman. Your next door NE neighbor may not have heard of Furman but I guarantee you that Wall Street recruiters have.

That said, first semester freshman year can be tough for any kid, particularly far from home. It is a time of adjustment and if you don’t get connected, it is a problem. There are going to be bad apples in any environment that may be a problem. Second semester may improve. Explore transfer options but give second semester a chance. Encourage your child to seek out club opportunities, talk to professors (coaches?). Despite how it seems to your child, Furman has a 93% retention rate so very few kids are leaving; parents don’t pay that ticket price if theirs kids are unhappy. Furman may simply not be a good fit but maybe this semester will change that.

I am a parent of a current freshman. I have to say that my son loves Furman and has had a very positive experience. The professors (even the harder ones) are kind, friendly, and always there if you need anything. I don’t hear the same thing from students at state schools. That is a gamechanger for me. As far as the “suitcase” campus statement, that’s simply not true. No one on my son’s hall leaves for the weekends. There was only one time that a few students on the hall were on campus when the majority went home and that was Fall break (a 4 day weekend). Next year I’m sure they’ll make alternate plans now that they know. My son and his friends always find something fun to do- downtown Greenville, out to eat, hike Paris mountain, movies, game night, paintball, rock climbing, etc. That doesn’t even touch on events at Furman as another parent mentioned.
I hate to hear that your child isn’t having the same amazing experience, but there are great people at Furman. I hope his/her second semester is starting out well and have them reach out to the people in their new classes. Never turn down an invite to lunch or coffee or to study- he/she will meet “their people”. For us, Furman is worth every single penny!

Good luck!

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I’ve just read everyone’s comments and already can’t remember who wrote what, so here’s my experience.

My eldest daughter is a freshman this year. Serious, respectful, no rule breaking kinda girl. Became friends with one girl during scholars week, kept in touch, ended up on same hall, hung out together all the time for Aug/Sept. no classes together. Gradually they both made friends with others from their classes. Unfortunately, the friend was a bit of a party girl and got two AVs (alcohol violations) in the first two weeks. Daughter took a step back. Daughter spent first semester making friends with kids in all her classes, joined FUSAB, and Mock trial. Had lunch and dinner with different people every day. Also spent a lot of time getting to know older soriety girls as she knew she wanted to rush this semester. I kept reminding her that it was okay to be friends with lots of different people, even if they weren’t friends with each other. Her original friend who she thought would be her BFF, is now just someone who she waves to in passing, no hard feelings. Now that second semester has started, she’s making a whole new round of friends, but is still keeping her friends from first semester and her other activities. She rushed and just got her big sister reveal this weekend. My point is that I thought my daughter would be sad about loss of first friend, but now she has loads of friends, maybe not all in one big group, but there’s always someone she can meet in the dining hall, go for ice cream with, go downtown with. With different classes each semester, I only see her friend group getting bigger.

Greenville is lovely, but definitely a car ride away from campus. We live 30 minutes from campus but my daughter spends most weekends at school, exception for fall and Christmas break, her dads birthday etc… There are plenty of kids on campus at the weekend. A lot have cars, and kids are always hanging downtown, up in Travelers Rest, or just Cookout at Cherrydale.

You do have to match student to college. Daughter never wanted a big, sporty school. She came from a small charter High school, and although Furman is small, it’s most definitely not like high school. Thankfully, I have a child who takes school seriously and wants to succeed and it seems right now Furman is the best fit. I believe you should pick school based on academics. That said, there’s plenty of big, party, sporty schools that have fabulous academics.

@helpdeciding: Any decision yet with respect to staying at Furman or transferring ?

A difficult decision that depends primarily on your child, particularly given the pros and cons of a smaller school. My son is also a freshman at Furman, but seems to be having a different experience in many regards. While he’d planned on attending a state university, he liked the intimacy of a smaller student body (which seems even smaller when you walk around there because of the size of Furman’s campus). The key to his experience has been connecting with multiple friend groups, like JoannaT described (including FUSAB), to find a cross-section of people. That can help with overcoming cliques. That said, it’s not for everyone and some kids just need or want the big school feel (I went to a big school, which was filled with cliques, but there were more of them to maneuver in and out of, which can be a plus). Then there’s the professor angle. Does your child prefer knowing their professors or having less interaction with them? Neither preference is bad, but there is a marked difference. I went to a state university and had very few real conversations with a professor during my 4 years. I was ok with it, but some prefer closer connections with instructors.

One thing I do want to add is that I wouldn’t worry about Furman’s reputation with HR departments up north. I’m up north and in a hiring position for a tech supplier and personally find that far too many kids today worry about where they go to school. The fact is there are very few professions where it matters (e.g., Law School, Medical School). For the most part, not many hiring managers care where the degree is from, especially an undergrad degree. They care about the skills and mindset of the person applying for the job. That said, Furman ranks well among liberal arts schools so alum can certainly sell themselves to the few HR people who do care.

I hope the best for your student and that whatever the decision they find success!