Transferring to a "lower" school

<p>Hi everyone. I thought I'd post this here instead of the transfer forum to (hopefully) get a more mature and experienced perspective. No offense to the student posters of CC, of course.</p>

<p>I'm a sophomore at Duke and due to the overall misery of my experience I'm seriously considering a transfer. The frontrunner right now is UVA, partly for financial reasons, and partly because I have some close friends there. The only thing holding me back is that little voice in my head that tells me that I was lucky to ever be admitted to a place like Duke and that I will regret leaving that behind. </p>

<p>I currently have two options (besides staying here). I can apply for spring semester admission into UVA CAS and be done with it. Or I can wait till March to apply to more schools in the fall. My college GPA is a 3.96 and my ECs are solid, so I think I have a decent shot at some other schools too. </p>

<p>Needless to say, time is running out on option one and I still don't know what to do. Some days I feel so terrible I want to bolt for UVA ASAP. The next day I want to wait till the fall and apply to Brown and possibly Penn as well, just to keep my options open. It's not that I particularly like those schools more than Duke (although I'm sure the experience would be different) but that if I transfer to something that's more widely considered to be on the same level I won't have this nagging feeling that a transfer is something I'd later regret. </p>

<p>And then some days I feel like just sucking it up and staying here, so suffice to say, I'm not even close to making a real decision. Any advice?</p>

<p>Not a matter of "lower" or "higher" but "different". Ask yourself (I would only know secondhand) how much different UVA really is than Duke. Are there serious academic differences in what you wish to study? Differences in the student body? Differences in culture? (I would have thought that Penn/UVA/Duke wouldn't be all that different, one from another, except that Penn is in a large city, and UVA would have more in-state students). I also would ask what attracts you to Brown (somewhat different in culture, I would think than the other three.)</p>

<p>Again, without firsthand knowledge, I would think transferring from Duke to UVA makes financial sense (if you are in-state), but would need to know much more about your academic direction and cultural leanings before recommending another move.</p>

<p>If you are miserable, you are miserable, and ranking doesn't have anything to do with it.</p>


<p>If you are from Virginia, I think UVA would be great. If we lived in Virginia, it would have been a top choice for my S ! Financial reasons are good enough.</p>

<p>1sokkermom - lol, I think my parents would agree with you there, especially since we have absolutely no financial aid.</p>

<p>mini - I'll try to answer those questions as best I can. :) Academically-speaking I'm an economics major who hopes to enter a PhD program in management after graduation. To that end I'm working as a research assistant at Fuqua (Duke's business school) and plan to conduct original research overseas this summer in hopes of getting a paper published. I'd also like to participate in some kind of undergraduate honors thesis program, wherever I happen to be senior year.</p>

<p>Culturally I'm of an (Asian) Indian background although my ethnicity has never been something I consider important. Some people have suggested that the fact that I didn't actively seek out friends of my own race may have contributed to my difficulty in making friends at Duke. I can see where they're coming from, but I feel like I don't share the same sort of cultural bond that other Indians seem to share with each other.</p>

<p>To be honest I'm really not that interested in Penn. My dad just keeps suggesting it because that was my first choice back in the original round of college apps. Brown overall seems more open and accepting of differences than Duke. I feel like there's too much of a pressure to conform to a specific ideal of what a Duke student should be, and that ideal isn't really one I naturally fit. </p>

<p>UVA on the other hand has the strongest lure due to the combination of in-state tuition and the fact that I have close friends there. One in particular has been encouraging me to transfer ever since I told her I don't like it here.</p>

<p>Who says UVa is a "lower" school than Duke? Certainly not CC. They are both listed among the top schools in the country:</p>

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<p>Go where you'll feel comfortable, and challenged, and do well.</p>

<p>It's not like you haven't been at Duke for a year, and, if over the period of the next several months you change your mind, you can always stay. So go for a new start. If finances are an issue, go to UVA. If you need something a bit different, go to Brown. (Perhaps because of my stepnephew who is at Duke and who was a double-legacy at Penn, and knowing him, I see the two schools as relatively interchangeable, though Penn is better located.)</p>

<p>coureur - I put "lower" in quotes because I've received mixed messages about the relative placement of Duke and UVA among the 'elite,' and there being tangible difference between the two in terms of reputation and networking.</p>

<p>mini - Thanks for the input. :) FWIW I don't see Penn as all that different from Duke either, although I do greatly prefer Philly to Durham.</p>

<p>^ I agree completely. S had a big decision deciding between the two as an out of state student.</p>

<p>Banana, I wish you the best of luck on your decision. I am not so sure that the "cultural" environment as it relates to Asians is much different at UVA. I'm sure you have visited there. I would suggest spending a weekend (or more)there on campus before you decide. Really talk to other students there.</p>

<p>I think that any of the choices you list would enable you to continue your education at the graduate level elsewhere. You seem to be a very motivated and capable individual.</p>

<p>If you have good friends at UVA and it costs less -GO THERE!!! You will be in a great school, and you will have missed the usual huge intro classes. Rankings shmankings. Many roads lead to your goal - pick the one you will enjoy the most.</p>

UVA on the other hand has the strongest lure due to the combination of in-state tuition and the fact that I have close friends there. One in particular has been encouraging me to transfer ever since I told her I don't like it here.


I put "lower" in quotes because I've received mixed messages about the relative placement of Duke and UVA among the 'elite,' and there being tangible difference between the two in terms of reputation and networking.

I think there is a lot of valuable information in these two thoughts. If the "lower" ranking of UVA is the only reason you are second-guessing your thoughts of transferring there... then I think looking to your thoughts in the second quotation gives you an answer. Who is to say UVA is "lesser" than Duke. I don't think it is, but I don't think you necessarily want to go by my rankings. coureur notices that cc doesn't think it is, but I don't think you necessarily want to go by cc's rankings. Now, for the $64,000 question - do you want to put your future in the hands of USN&WR's editors? Because those are really the rankings you probably are fixated on. I wouldn't give that power to a ranking system whose primary function is to sell magazines.</p>

<p>In the real world of folks who do not focus on college admissions 24/7, I think the difference between a UVA and a Duke credential is de minimus. They are both top-notch schools with great reputations. You can benefit greatly from the reputation and network of either</p>

<p>"Doing the math": College Board lists 3887 institutions of higher education in the US. USN&WR ranks Duke #8 and UVA #24. That puts both of them in the top 1% of all colleges and universities in this country. If you want to get precise, Duke is in the top 00.2% of all schools and UVA is in the top 00.6%. I wouldn't worry about it.</p>

<p>I agree with 1sokkermom that you should really check out whether UVA differs much culturally from Duke. Having had a daughter who went to Brown, I can tell you that I believe Brown WOULD offer a different cultural environment....perhaps you should consider applying there. For sure, there are few schools as socially open and accepting as Brown. In any case, you should follow your heart...regardless of Duke's standing, these four years are too precious and short for you to accept being less than happy with its fit. Best of luck.</p>

<p>I chose Duke over UNC Chapel Hill only because Duke offered me a lot more money. The fact that all of my high school friends are at UNC is actually a huge turn OFF for me, but I suppose everyone is different. If you think you'd be happier at UVA, it really doesn't make much sense to stay (and pay) at Duke and be miserable. </p>

<p>By the end of this year, you'll be halfway through with college. I plan to study abroad for a year in Cairo (presuming it hasn't been blown up yet) or the UK. If you have enough flexibility in your schedule, this is one way to get a breather from Duke without feeling like you're giving anything up, AND you get an awesome international experience.
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<p>I had a very rough freshman year last year, and I considered transferring more than once; I found that rather surprising considering that I've wanted to go to Duke since I was 6. It wasn't until the beginning of this year, when I ran into so many friends from last year, that I realized I somehow had carved a niche for myself. As a sophomore, you should have a pretty good idea of where you and Duke (and UVA) stand. If you think UVA would be a better fit, then go and don't look back. It certainly makes sense from a financial point of view.</p>

<p>I really don't see Penn and Duke as similar at all. My son is a freshman at Penn and wasn't the least bit interested in Duke. Both have strong academics, but the similarities end there. That said, UVA would be the logical move, especially if Penn doesn't really thrill you.</p>

<p>I am not going to comment on your choice of schools. I only want to make the comment that I have a Son who transferred to a "lower" school from his original one due to changing majors. He is much happier and has found something that he is passionate about. You have to go where you are will be happy. Visit the schools that you are considering. Don't choose a school because your parents want it-do it for you. Make sure it offers the academics that you want. My Son lost credits and had to make up 12-so he may be staying an extra semester. That is something to consider too-who will take your transfer credits. Also look at the activities and clubs they offer-socially that may be a way to make friends.</p>

<p>If you are not a Virginia resident, I personally would NOT want to pay out of state tuition for Virginia, as good as it is. State schools are undergoing some problems in case you are not aware. With state budget cuts, they are cutting down on their offerings and cutting quality in many cases. Thus, Virginia may be a poor choice in the long run UNLESS you are able to get instate tuition.</p>

<p>Moreover, I don't see that much of a difference between students who attend Duke vs. Virginia. Thus, before you take the giant leap of transferring, you should really investigate Virginia some more. Frankly, with your GPA, you could transfer to a lot of better places such as Princeton or even Harvard. </p>

<p>If I were you, I would make a list of things that you like about Duke and things that you don't like. I would thoroughly investigate schools that you are considering transferring to and make the same list.</p>

<p>Trust me: the grass isn't always greener elsewhere despite what you may think. This is especially true for state schools.</p>

<p>bananainpyjamas you have always been so great to other kids looking at Duke or UVa, and I am sorry you are not settled in son is a Virginian in your class at Duke and has some of the same divided feelings re the fact that Charlottesville is a great college town...diverse with many outstanding departments and lets face is a very upbeat beautiful county in Albemarle...and the lure of UVa remains strong in our family. I see UVa grads day in and day out and they are all plum crazy about their school. I also see many high acheivers who took their UVa degrees very far. </p>

<p>Do not make your decision on rank in USNWR--that is basically meaningless. We do not think UVa is lesser at all, in fact it could be argued that it is "greater" in some respects, but now is not the time to glorify UVa's assets or compare the two institutions. You have the goods to make it work academically anywhere. Instead, focus a bit more on internal issues before packing up.</p>

<p>When I was your age, I also had a sophomore year crisis about not fitting into my college, which I ended up resolving by staying and just being even more true to myself and getting OK with my college not being a perfect fit. I recall my classmates were not too interested in my talking about leaving to go to a better fit they were dug in and obviously didn't appreciate anyone focusing on the negative. (I am still hearing about this!) It was a very good choice for me to stay but not a perfect choice I must admit. However, once I committed to staying, my work became more meaningful in the community and the classroom, and I did acquire life long friends I communicate with weekly even now.
I don't know that you want to go into details on the boards, but I bet academics are not the main reason you don't feel at home. I think you should consider getting some short term counsel at Duke (four sessions focused on this might make you feel clear--usually you make an oral contract with a counselor about what you want to talk over, and you would be surprised at how often 4-6 sessions is all it takes)..I am a formally licensed (lapsed) counselor and I know they have total confidentiality rules and will respect that you are at a fact, I think they see a score of people in your shoes each year and respect that Duke is not for everyone. </p>

<p>But before you move to any other college campus, get very articulate about why exactly. Maybe what needs to change is in your outlook or expectations, or you are just a bit frozen in some way at the moment and about to go through some social personal growth changes. Or maybe it really is a matter of lack of fit and inspiration.</p>

<p>One thing I know about sophomores at UVa is that they are largely off campus in apartments now as housing is not guaranteed past freshman year. That means you would have to break into a system of how people have grouped themselves up there, find a couple of roommates and this is all more loose and off campus. Maybe that is an appealing prospect to you, but at any rate, you should do the work to get closer to why you are not really excited about the life that you have built at Duke..what is internal and what is external in the pluses and minuses.<br>
Whatever you decide, thanks for the good will advice you have always posted to others. You deserve to be truly pleased with your college world. But I recommend that you probe a little further into what it is you want for youself in your 20th and 21st years. Remember, signs of Identity Diffusion (see Erickson's stages for all humans) means..ta-da! You are NORMAL. You aren't supposed to have clarity now, but as a parent, I would want to know you were enjoying the exploration and the search for your place in this world. Transfer may be the most inspired choice for you. How great that you have maintained an academic record that would make transferring possible for you, too. Keep your head up and your spirit open while you figure out your next year's home base.</p>

<p>Thank you so much for the detailed response and the kind words, Faline. My father has been pushing me to see a counselor before making up my mind about transferring. I can see where he's coming from, but at the same time, I've never been good at talking about my feelings with other people. I'm not sure I could be completely open with a counselor and am thus unsure of how much it would help.</p>

<p>sokkermom and Donemom - Not to worry, I will definitely be visiting these schools to get a feel for the culture before committing to anything. Thank you both for your kind words. :)</p>

<p>anxiousmom - You know, I had been worried about things like class size at a larger school, but hadn't realized I probably will be able to bypass all those big intro classes. Thanks for bringing it up. :D</p>

<p>jmmom - I actually don't put a lot of stock in USNWR; I was basing my higher impression of Duke more on what I've heard from adults in the working and academic world. I have been reassured that a Duke and UVA app will be viewed in essentially the same light during graduate school admissions, so the (supposed) networking advantages of Duke have been the main sticking point for me. </p>

<p>warblers - Yeah I remember you were having issues too last year. I'm really glad things worked out for you. :) Thanks for the study abroad suggestion - I hadn't thought of it in that light.</p>

<p>MomofWildChild - I realize the Penn/Duke comparison isn't really clear-cut; I was just basing my statement on my current impressions of the school. I certainly could be wrong and arranging an overnight visit with a friend who attends Penn might be the way to rectify that.</p>

<p>AudiB4 - I've checked out the credits situation. UVA tends to be very accepting of transfer credit and Brown looks like it will take quite a bit of what I've already done as well. I definitely can't afford to be staying any extra semesters so being able to transfer the bulk of what I've done so far will definitely be important.</p>

<p>taxguy - I'm in-state at UVA and currently receiving no financial aid from Duke. Financially-speaking the move would be a great boon to my family. I realize the student bodies are fairly similar, so socially-speaking I certainly would be taking a leap of faith when it comes to those close friends I already have at UVA. And re: applying to better schools, I don't think I really stand at chance at HYPSM but I might throw an application Stanford's way.</p>

as housing is not guaranteed past freshman year


<p>O RLY?! That's news to me!</p>

<p>I think part of your dilemma is that you are comparing your friendships that were nurtured in high school for 4 years (and possibly even longer) with acquaintances you have known for only a year. As you probably know, it takes a lot of time to get to know people on that level, and the people you meet in college may never be as close to you as your high school friends. My mother is 78 years old and she still hangs out with high school friends!</p>

<p>banana-just wanted to add that I have a son who is at Brown, so if you need any info about that school, perhaps I or he could help. He is only a freshman, but there may be some questions you have that we can help you with.</p>