HS senior considering transfer

Hello! I am a HS senior committed to a small LAC with a strong academic atmosphere and a bunch of partner schools where I can take classes from.
I applied to the school because I wanted to go really academic and study philosophy (like classic european centered.) My interests did not change much, but I gradually realized that I wanted to learn more about the rest of the world, from their history and philosophy to current issues and policies. My college has great poli and phi departments and the partner colleges are very strong in the field also. However, my college is very Anglo-American focused. The other colleges are not, but it is not practical for me to take half of my classes outside of my college considering the commute time. I don’t want that either.

How should I prepare for transferring after my first year? Does my reason for transfer above sound valid? I just don’t know if my reason is strong enough as I can always go to the other school, but I really didn’t feel happy when I go through our 2021 phi courses liking very few of them.

This is a problem for future you. Get to the college that you have committed to. Start taking classes. See how you like the school environment and the classes you take. Jump in whole-heartedly- give the school a fair chance to remind you of the things that made you choose it in the first place.

Transfer application deadlines are in the spring, so in the meantime make sure that you work hard and are an active member of the community (good grades & teacher recs will matter). Over winter break, if you are still thinking that the fit isn’t great, do some homework to ID schools that have the best of what you have now and no more negatives than the place you have now.

So, so many students- easily a third- change their focus entirely as they start taking uni level classes (I have seen a definite IR major turn into a cellular biology major). The beauty of the US system is that the system is built to encourage intellectual exploration. Remember that one of the biggest differences between HS & college is that you are in charge of your path, not the school: your advisor can help you understand the system and give you recs based on experience, generally they won’t push a plan on you- they will expect you to come up with ways to get the academic experience you are looking for.


In general I think it is a terrible idea to start one college with the intent of transferring out. This will stand in the way of your making meaningful friendships, developing relationships with professors, and getting involved on campus. Then if your transfer doesn’t work out as planned you will be really stuck. Plus if money is an issue, financial aid can be harder to come by as a transfer student. I’d go to the college you enrolled in with the intent of staying all four years. It is fine to throw in a couple of transfer applications but don’t count on it working out.

Consider taking a semester or a year abroad as a way to broaden your horizons.


I was a Classics major (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), but was also interested in OTHER ancient cultures-- and my own college was strong in some areas, weak in others.

I spent a semester abroad and got to take courses there on what would have been considered “off the beaten track” areas of the world and their art, literature and culture during antiquity. It did the trick! I came back to my own U (which I loved) and had the best of both worlds.

You can always spend a semester or a year somewhere else to 'fill your cup" with specific needs. But if the college you are committed to is otherwise a solid, affordable choice- I’d start with the expectation of finishing. If you are miserable? Sure. But if you are happy and challenged??? You can do an independent study with a faculty member who will sponsor you, you can spend a semester or year elsewhere, or your interests may shift again…


Thank you - yes I was a little overwhelmed as I am still quite in the high school mindset. As I look closer into the course offerings, I do find that even if I don’t feel my college that strong in certain area, I still have way more appealing classes in the upcoming semester than what I can take. I guess I will be enjoying my time there regardless of what the future me thinks about transferring!! Thank you for your suggestions

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