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Should I stay or should I transfer?

sherbetsherbet Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
Hello everyone, I am currently a Freshman majoring in Economics at Dornsife CLAS. My main issue here is that I am quite disappointed with the Econ program at USC: everything that I've learned last semester was just redundant high school material (I just took some lower level classes, but I haven't touched any of the upper level ones) and the Econ department at USC isn't that renowned.

After some planning I narrowed my future course of action down to two options:

Option 1) I will aim for a dual degree in Business at Marshall, and Econ at Dornsife

The Pros:
-Econ is to Business as Physics is to Engineering, ergo, these two degrees fit nicely together
-Very strong background for business or finance related jobs as Marshall is ranked among the top undergraduate business schools in the U.S.
-I will also continue my studies in Econ since I have a genuine interest in it
-I can graduate within 3 years with a dual degree if I take 20 units per semester from now on (feels like an overkill, but I really don't want to pay 50k of tuition)
-Trojan Network

The Cons:
-Marshall is hard to get into as an internal transfer
-A dual degree in Business and Econ from USC in my original country is as prestigious as a degree in a random state university; what I'm saying here is that in my country appearances are very important, and that the prestige of your university mirrors your intellectual qualities.
-...and on top of that people with creativity and lateral thinking abilities are not appreciated; I happen to fall into that category of people (without a nice degree from a renowned college, I would just be considered another drop of water in an endless ocean)
-Dual degree within 3 years is overkill, but I am up to the challenge
-I don't like LA; nothing personal, but too much sun is making me stupid
-I don't like the neighborhood surrounding USC; not because it is dangerous, but because the only entertaining venue is LA live

Option 2) I will transfer to a college with a relatively better Econ department

(I am thinking about UC: Berkeley, Princeton, U Penn, or U Chicago)

The Pros:
-Prestige, Prestige, and Prestige; something that the Econ department at USC lacks and that will distinguish me in my original country
-Personal satisfaction of being able to attend a top-notch university that also has a nice Econ program
-4 different seasons instead of an endless Summer

The Cons:
-Very very hard to get into
-Not sure if I can transfer all of my credits
-I will probably graduate in 4 years, so I will end up spending more for a degree
-No Trojan Network
-No more beautiful USC girls to peek at, again, personal taste

So, on the bottom line, the major difference between the two choices is just the university and the Econ department's prestige. I really like USC so far, but if I can't transfer into Marshall and graduate in both Business and Econ, it would be like graduating with a liberal arts degree in economics. I weight both of these choices as giving me the same benefits, but the latter option is harder to accomplish.

So, I would like to ask the community at CC about their opinion. Should I stay at USC and apply to Marshall or should I transfer to another university?
Post edited by sherbet on

Replies to: Should I stay or should I transfer?

  • bookworm2049bookworm2049 Registered User Posts: 133 Junior Member
    is the econ program at USC really that bad? I really like economics but im starting to regret it....
  • vincehvinceh Registered User Posts: 2,291 Senior Member
    1. How many Econ classes have you taken? 2? 3? All introductory level classes in any subject are virtually identical at any school you will attend. Supply/Demand curves do not change from university to university.

    2. What made you decide to attend USC in the first place? USC's and the Economics department's prestige hasn't changed much in the last 9 months so your concerns about perceived prestige in your homeland shouldn't be very different than they were last September.

    3. Internal transfer into Marshall is difficult because it is a well-regarded program. Attempting to transfer to the schools on your list will likely be even more difficult, so if you're concerned about getting into Marshall, it's difficult to be too optimistic about your chances at these other schools.

    I'm not trying to talk you into staying at USC. People do transfer out every year, though with a 97% retention rate most students are obviously pleased with their USC decisions. I think it's naive to base your assessment of the Economics department on a couple of intro level classes. If you want to try for a Business degree then go for it, though it doesn't come across to me that you're truly passionate about the idea.

    If your're chasing prestige as defined by others you'll be running for the rest of your life. You need to find the place that is best suited to give you the best opportunity to succeed, not the place others think you should go. If you're unhappy then transfer, just don't assume that happiness is waiting for you on some other, more "prestigious", campus. You make your life, not others.
  • sherbetsherbet Registered User Posts: 3 New Member

    It is neither bad nor great. I just feel like it doesn't like up to USC's name.


    1. I only taken the introductory courses in Econ. I have also taken introductory courses in Business. I felt that the introductory Econ courses were not as challenging and thought provoking as the ones I took in Business; they were also less interesting and informative than my GE courses. Maybe I just chose courses with lighthearted professors, but I didn't really get the vibe that I had hoped to achieve in college courses.

    2. To be honest, I chose USC because it had a very nice Engineering and Business school, and I was still undecided on whether to pursue my career in either of the two. I thought that internal transfers were a matter of paperwork, and that I could change my major in one business day. I also thought that the Econ department was in the Business school, and since the Business school had such a prestigious name, I applied for Econ major thinking that I would enroll in Business school. In this case I must blame myself for not researching USC's different schools in depth. In my country people have to declare their specific field of study as soon as they enter high school; and that decision carries to university, so there is no such a thing as internal transfers. This concept of deciding your major whist already enrolled in college was one of the things that attracted me to the U.S., but I was quite naive to think it would be that easy to change majors overnight. Also, I'm a first generation college student, so my parents or relatives couldn't possibly have encouraged me to look into universities deeply.

    3. I know that my chances of transferring are really low, but I really want to be in a intellectually engaging environment where I can know my potential and my limits.

    You are right saying that I am assessing the Econ department with just a few courses. But I just don't want to risk. Let's say that if I stay at USC and graduate with a degree in Econ. After graduating I would either feel satisfied of what I learned and experience, or I would regret the fact that I could have learned more in a college environment. The same situation applies if I transfer to one of the aforementioned colleges. The likelihood of the latter situation happening would be relatively lower if I transfer. This is supported by the fact that these colleges have made a name for themselves in the Economics field of study.

    As for the Business degree, I was not entirely enticed by it; I would have chosen Physics or Computer Science over it any day. But this semester I am taking a couple of business courses, and I have changed my perspective on it. The academic environment that I have experienced in those Business classes is what I have been looking for a long time. I am interested in Business, yet I am not a Business type of person myself. What I wanted from USC was the academic environment found in the Business classes, but in Economic classes. I think that majoring in both of these fields would satisfy both of my intellectual hunger and my personal interest in Economics, but it still wouldn't compare with the satisfaction of majoring in Economics from one of those Econ-savvy colleges mentioned in my first post.

    I don't deny the fact that I am chasing after prestige. My parents used to live in poverty, so they couldn't afford college at my age. I also lived in relative poverty for the first half of my life. And as such, I still tend to be a very materialistic person because of the hardships I experienced. To some people, the freedom of choosing how to lead their own life is more important than achieving material security; I am not one of those people. My concept of success is being able to support my parents as they get old, and to provide financial security to my children as they choose to make their own life. It may not closely tie to the prestige of the university that I attend, but the perception of achieving such a high milestone in my life would at least satisfy my lust for success.
  • KulakaiKulakai Registered User Posts: 1,683 Senior Member
    If your main concern is prestige/academic quality and you enjoy econ then by all means try to transfer to one of the schools you listed.

    That being said if you have the gpa/sats/extra curriculars to easily transfer to one of those schools than you should be pretty competitive to transferring into Marshall if you wish. Why not apply to transfer to all of them as well as internally to Marshall and see where you get in and what sort of financial aid options you get?

    Honestly if I was doing Econ, it is pretty much a given you will want to also do a masters/phd so I would prefer doing my undergrad somewhere where you get the full well rounded college experience like USC and then do my graduate study at one of the more prestigious programs with better recruiting for that major.
  • vincehvinceh Registered User Posts: 2,291 Senior Member
    Sherbet, at the risk of sounding harsh you need to grow up and take responsibility for your education. You seem to have a simplistic image of college as a place where eager undergrads get to rub elbows with Nobel Prize winners simply by asking. Access to the best and brightest professors only happens in the higher level courses and even then only to the best and brightest undergrads. Kulakai is 100% correct, if you want true research and interaction with the great minds you're going to need to go onto graduate school.

    When I read your long response I'm left with the feeling that this is someone who doesn't yet know what they want from college. No college holds your hand and allows you to fill out a few forms and bounce from major to major or school to school without some justification. You need to have a plan and a goal and then go tell "the system" what you need.

    As for prestige I have no answer. USC is a top university in the United States. That it lacks status in your home country is not something that is going to change anytime soon. You chose USC for a reason it's up to you to exploit the opportunities that SC affords.

    As for the Business degree, I was not entirely enticed by it; I would have chosen Physics or Computer Science over it any day.

    Then why aren't you majoring in Physics or Comp Sci? If that's what you wanted how did you end up majoring in Economics? Have you looked into the combined BS in Comp Sci & Business at USC?

    By all means take Kulakai's advice and apply to transfer to all of your schools and Marshall. However, I would encourage you to deeply research all these schools as well as all of the exceptional programs that are currently available to you on the SC campus.
  • eagle69eagle69 - Posts: 364 Member
    Lower level classes are basically AP high school courses. I'm positive it will become more rigorous and fulfilling this semester and your next 3 years. It will be the same at Princeton, etc.
  • madbeanmadbean Registered User Posts: 3,219 Senior Member
    Are you trying to game the system? I ask because you attend USC, but really want high prestige universities--so it follows you were not admitted as a freshmen to those schools. If your GPA is very high and you have professors at USC who love you, you may have a chance at transferring to them now. But many do not take many/any transfers.

    Marshall is reputed to be more difficult to gain admissions to than Dornsife majors. Did you apply to Econ to make an easier entry to USC? Now that you are here, are you trying to switch to Marshall with no other hurdles?

    Sorry, but reading your posts has me wondering. It may be that you cannot find an easy way to avoid the rigid qualifications to the most selective programs. If you get excellent grades, recommendations and research/ECs, you'll find you may be able to transfer. But your explanations seem a little weak. If you really were uncertain of major, you had every reason to research the ins and outs of internal transfers before you matriculated.

    Universities are looking for students with an inner passion--although few are seeking students whose passion is simply for making a fortune someday. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But follow your true interests, and $$ will follow, not the other way around.
  • sherbetsherbet Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thank you for your advice, I never thought that you could apply both for an internal transfer and also for an external one. I thought that once you decide to transfer into another college, it has to be a definite decision, and that USC (or the college you wanted to part from) won't allow you to come back unless you apply to it next year. This pretty much solves my dilemma.

    As for the fact that I should aim for a prestigious econ program for graduate or doctorate studies only after my undergraduate studies, I believe that a very nice undergrad preparation in economics is one, if not one of the most important, of the keys to schools that offer prestigious graduate and doctorate studies in economics. What I am saying here is that I am looking for a very solid foundation in my field of study from my undergraduate studies in college. A good foundation will make it easier whereas a bad foundation will make it harder for me to fully understand the more complex concepts in graduate school.

    I never thought of college as a simple place where you can get something by simply asking for it. I think of it as a place where in order to obtain something, you need to take action, you need to look for it and gain it; things don't simply come at you when you wish for them. As a matter of fact, I am not waiting for my years to pass by and hope by chance that I can become an Econ guru just by staying where I am right now. I am hoping to attain as much as I can in my undergraduate studies, so that I can access the brightest professors and fellow students. Even if I can access them, I would just be a sore thumb if I am not academically prepared myself.

    As you said, I am not someone who has a really clear idea of what s/he wants from college. I never had any first hand experience with college before I came to USC; none of my friends nor relatives have ever attended college in order to tell me what I should be looking forward to. I myself thought that college would be just a place that prepares you for your job hunt (that's what it's like in my country at least), and that by just graduating with a piece of paper I would immediately find a nice job and start to earn money. Now have enough first hand experience to say that what I want from college is a competitive environment where I can assess my limits and where I can grow intellectually. I didn't find USC's Econ department that competitive, but as you said in your first post, it is still a little too early to judge it; that's why I am not considering an external transfer until I finish my sophomore year.

    I am not majoring in Business and CS because I don't find the EE and Math courses that interesting. I have considered a minor in CS, but then I also considered the fact that I can learn programming languages by myself to a certain extent. I ended up choosing to major in Econ because it was one of my most versatile options; I could have pursued law, business, finance, or other disciplines after I graduate with a degree in Econ. I am also majoring in Econ because I am interested in it.

    Right now I am already looking into what I can reap from USC and as well as what advantages other schools would have over USC. I was also interested in the progressive degree in Econ at USC, but that would deny me the possibility of interacting with other graduate school.

    Yes, I am still looking forward to USC's econ department for another year or so as I don't want to base my transferring decision only on a couple of courses that I have taken.

    Yes, I was not admitted to Berkeley (I haven't applied to the other schools I mentioned), but I am not trying to cheat the system. I didn't even think about attending university until my sophomore year in high school, much less a university in another continent, but I eventually chose to come to the U.S. for a variety of reasons. By looking back at what I have done in high school, I feel like that I could have achieved more: I only focused on grades, and gave little attention to EC and other things American universities were looking for. As a matter of fact, I am very surprised that I even was able to come to USC. But as soon as I realized that the econ classes that I have taken were not so competitive I decided that maybe USC is still not enough for me. I have always wondered where I could have ended up if I did things differently in high school. That's why I am thinking of giving myself a second chance, and see if I can prove myself to be top-notch university material by transferring to them. And if I can't transfer, I am still satisfied by USC as it never let me down except for the not-so-great econ department.

    Before coming to USC I thought that Econ was in the business school. I didn't even know that I had to make an internal transfer to switch in between different schools.

    Before I applied to college, I didn't even know the difference between undergrads and graduate students or the fact that a university has many different schools in it. When I applied to USC, I noticed that film music majors (if I remember correctly) had to submit extra stuff; knowing that these majors required extra documentation, I thought that these were the only majors requiring extra documentation if I wanted to change my major.

    Thank you for your final advice. Actually I only discovered this fact by roaming around CC these days. I would love to follow my interests, but I highly doubt that my parents would pay for my college tuition then.
  • KulakaiKulakai Registered User Posts: 1,683 Senior Member
    @sherbert - Well just time things so that you fill out this transfer admissions apps for the other schools you would consider at the same time as applying to try to get into Marshall, that way you get back decisions at the same time so you can weigh your options.

    Keep in mind not every school will accept transfers either (Princeton does not off the top of my head). Are the other schools the type that would have accepted you had you applied to them? What has changed to make them reconsider and admit you now instead of as a freshman? Keep that in mind when considering what other programs to throw transfer apps at. One one more thing, and I say this with no offense since I don't know you, schools like princeton/Uchicago are near impossible to transfer to let alone be admitted as freshman so perhaps widen your selection of schools you'd consider transferring to.

    Have you talked to any junior/senior econ majors to get their impression on the rigor of upper level courses or how they have fared with job recruiting or applying to grad programs or law school?
  • HappyBuddhaHappyBuddha Registered User Posts: 660 Member
    I would advise you do the dual degree route. Marshall isn't too hard to get in if you have a solid GPA. Im guessing that you have As in your econ classes are they were simply a review of high school material. 20 units isn't that bad - I take 18-20 units a sem (6 classes) and half of them are engineering. To be honest some of the Marshall pre-reqs, like Econ 251/252 and BUAD 304 aren't that hard. You seem to know what you're doing, so getting an A- or above shouldn't be impossible.

    If you get a high GPA with a rigorous courseload you can offset the prestige factor by goint to a prestigious grad school. Im sure a double major with a 3.7-3.8 GPA and solid ECs will be competitive for Harvard grad school admissions or something. USC is also rising rather fast. I'd imagine that in a few years time our prestige will begin to mirror our rise in academic quality.
  • mar333mar333 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I need help!! I am currently a freshman at American University in Washington, DC. In my senior year of high school I was very unsure of where I wanted to go, and I picked AU because I got a freshman internship and the city, and new it was a good school.
    My first semester was good and bad, I found a group of friends, who I always hung out with and went out with. And we were all in the same dorm in a close family type of dorm, a little off main campus, with only 125 students. But now (second semester) I feel like I am losing the friendships, and it is awkward with my roommate most days. I feel like I do not fit in with the mold of this school, at all. Second semester I moved on to main campus with my same roommate, which I thought would be easier, and give me the ability to meet new people. But I have not found a close nitch of friends or anyone who enjoys the same things I do, or has the same interests. The campus is very small, and everyone seems to have his or her own group of friends already, also, I do not fit in with the typical AU student (preppy, very wealthy, and Greek). Both of my good (girl) friends both joined the same sorority (not my thing) and I feel left out when they go off with their new sorority friends.
    The campus is very diverse and a lot of international students, who tend to stick together. The nightlife at AU is pretty boring on campus, just frat parties every weekend that can get lame and repetitive. There are bunches of clubs, and bars to go out in DC but they cost money, and you need to have a fake I.D. or go to an 18+ place.
    I have joined an intramural basketball team, work at AU for events, and an internship with AU for sports marketing. But still nothing has not paid off and I have yet to find people that I click with. And most times I get down and feel very depressed, and lonely. I also, am very unhappy 24/7, nothing makes me happy anymore and it makes it harder to be outgoing. And right now I am not finding the good in college.
    I am starting to think I really want to transfer, is this a good decision? Also, I am a very indecisive person and have been thinking almost too much what is the right thing to do. But another thing that I think about is I do not know where I want to transfer too, because I am scared the same thing will happen (socially), not the right fit, not the right college experience. Any suggestions?
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