Should I Consider Transferring Back Home?

This is my first time using College Confidential, so please bear with me! Also, I apologize for the length of this post. :slight_smile:
I’m a freshman at a small, private LAC in SoCal, where I’m majoring in psychology. This has been my dream school for years now, but I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider transferring home at semester, or possibly next year.

I’m from Montana, and it’s been my lifelong dream to get out of there. But during my senior year of HS, my family had to suddenly move houses and my father passed away ~2 months later. Making yet another huge life transition in the span of one year has made me incredibly depressed and stressed out. I never really let myself process my issues surrounding my dad’s passing, and now moving so far from home has caused me to hit a bit of a breaking point. I think the culture shock and the extreme climate/scenery differences are a little overwhelming on top of my other current stresses. The counselors at my current university are not very helpful, I tried that! I would also like to mention that taking a gap year/semester will not fly with my mom (I did ask,) so that’s out of the question.

I’m only just beginning here, (pretty much a month in,) and I don’t want to give up on my high school dreams prematurely. The amount of tuition I’m paying here in CA with work-study is pretty much equal to what I would pay if I went to the University of Montana without WS, so money isn’t a driving factor. However, U of M offers a psychology degree in three years, so it would probably save money in the long run and I would get to graduate a year early! I was also previously accepted into U of M’s Honors College, so I would reapply for that as well which would come with some scholarships.
If I transferred back to MT at the semester break, I would probably finish out the year at a CC in my hometown (about 2 hours away from the University, but the CC is associated with it) and then transfer to U of M next fall. If I stick it out here in CA for the year, I’d just transfer directly to Montana in the fall. Or, I could just tough it out and try to get used to my current college.
I still plan on going out-of-state for grad school someday, and I would love to move back to California sometime in the future. I have a very specific goal in mind, so no matter where I go to undergrad I will know my next steps. I’m just wondering if staying here and adding more stressors this year is a good idea, both mental health-wise and academically.
If anyone has some insight or advice, please let me know! Thank you.

I am very sorry to hear about your loss. That and moving are a lot of upset in a short period of time. It sounds like - even if you move back, things would be a lot different than you left them.

This was your dream school for a reason. You are just getting started - how you are feeling is normal and natural. Most move away freshmen feel that way - at least to some degree.

i’d stick with it through at least the end of the year. Get engaged in the campus community - Join clubs, attend on and off campus events and make the most of your student experience. If, come April, you still hate it, figure out how to transfer to your home-town CC.


Agree with @NCalRent

Plus, you really need to speak to a counselor who actually will listen to you. Your mother/your school insurance plan has counselors. You’re dealing with grief while experiencing massive support-system changes.

Most adults can’t deal with what you are currently dealing with so be easy on yourself!
You’ve said that you are a psychology major, correct? Try to connect with one of the psychology professors and see what they would recommend in your situation.

You’ve picked a major that deals with helping people, so it’s natural that you would want to take care of others, now, consider doing it for yourself! You need time to heal. Talk to your friends back home and make new friends by volunteering at your school. Small LACs can be challenging if you haven’t found your tribe yet. Good Luck!


Your brain follows you everywhere. No matter where your roof is, you need to process his passing. I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’m guessing your dad was supportive of you spreading your wings so what you are doing is actually what he wanted you to do.

I suggest looking into counselors outside of the college. Give yourself a year. Journal. Use social media for good and find other teens who have lost parents. Sadly there are many out there.


@2plustrio @aunt_bea @NCalRent Thank you all so much for responding! I agree that I should take some time here to get used to it. I don’t have classes on Fridays so I might plan a long weekend to go home just to recuperate, but I think I’ll table the transfer idea until I’ve at least finished up the semester.
Your thoughts were all so helpful, I really appreciate it!

my advice to you is give yourself more time to consider that, you are already in a good position , home is sweet many feelings and a comfortable zone , but life is what it is , you have to get out of that comfort zone in order to be better mentally because you need life to put you in similar situations, best of luck

Yes, do take time to go back and visit. Be sure you have something that reminds you of your dad that you can take with you back to college. Bring his spirit with you. Remembering people we love is not restricted to a physical place.

Talk to your mom about your feelings as well. She may reiterate that you shouldn’t feel guilty for being away at college and chasing your dreams. The unfamiliar may be scary but there’s huge growth when you step out of your comfort zone as well.

Try not to make decisions based solely on anxiety or fear. Think, if your dad were still here, would you still want to be back at home or would your college still be your dream school?

You are allowed to grieve. You should be grieving. Losing a parent at a young age simply sucks. It hurts. Allow yourself to be sad, but also make sure you’re allowing yourself to be happy too.


I’m so sorry for your loss! You have been through a lot. Too bad that college counseling wasn’t helpful, I hear that a lot (it is a lot of group therapy and screening for suicide risks). If finding an outside counselor near campus seems super overwhelming, you could try one of the online options such as BetterHelp. It is counseling over the phone or laptop and can just feel like an easier way to find someone if you don’t have anyone to ask in your new town.

Transitioning to college is hard; I agree with the other posters to give it more time! I don’t want to talk you out of the trip home if you feel that you really need that…but there are some downsides–it can make it even harder to come back, and to say goodbye again. Many college ‘experts’ advise not visiting home during the first quarter…even if homesick…because the goal is to connect there, at your campus, meet people, start to build relationships and eventually find friends and support there. During the beginning of the year many schools have lots of ‘get to know you’ activities for freshmen and the first few weekends, staying there and getting out there, can really help!

That said, you are reaching out for help because you are hitting a low point. And you’ve clearly thought through the transfer plan a lot. Your health, mental and physical, does need to come first, academic and career and previous dream-school stuff is lower priority. I would say start with a counselor, who might be able to help you work through this decision and the grief and depression. Good luck!!!

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I’m a dissenting voice here. We had a friend who lost her sister not long before college started. She started at flagship out-of-state university. Grades were stellar, but was struggling in dealing with massive level of stress. Finished freshman year even though she was 100% ready to leave at semester. It proved to be a very tough year. She transferred to in-state university where she had a base of high school friends and did great. When you’ve suffered a major loss it can be helpful to be around people you and your family have a history with. She went on to a great graduate school across the county :), works as a counselor (similar education realm to you) and owns her own private practice now. Life isn’t always a straight line. Even with twists and turns, you can still end up in a good place. Bottom line, trust your gut. Think about yourself, think about your future, you know how you’re feeling and how your doing.

If you decide to leave CA at semester, would consider going straight into UM (or MSU). This would be less disruptive than 3 schools in 3 semesters and would give you a chance to connect with people at UM immediately and you wouldn’t have that “new kid” feeling for three semesters in a row.

As for being able to graduate in three years, take your time. Enjoy your time being a relatively unencumbered student. Give yourself some time to enjoy college and a chance to regroup after all that has transpired in your family, diversify classes, take a minor, do an internship, hang out with friends.