Before I left my full-time career to stay home with daughter, I worked as a college admissions counselor. Not only did I work in admissions, but I specialized in homeschool and transfer admissions. I saw a lot of transcripts, talked to a lot of students with big dreams and watched many young women struggle with the huge decision of where to get their college degree.
One of the hardest decisions to make is whether or not to switch colleges. Sometimes the college you choose isn’t what you expected. Perhaps the program isn’t as challenging as you hoped, or the community isn’t positive, or your aren’t supported by your professors. Whatever the case, it may be time to choose a different path. How do you know you need to switch?
Here are three basic questions you can ask as you evaluate your own situation. They might not give you an answer, but they will give you more clarity as you decide.
1. Does this college support my educational goals?
Do you feel like the college you’re attending is equipping you for the career path you’ve chosen? And if you don’t know your career path yet, do you have good program options for when you choose? While college is fun and you’ll make friends, you’re paying a lot of money to be there, and it’s about education above all else. Be sure you are getting your money’s worth.
Your program should push you. It should stretch you and give you the tools necessary to enter the field you’ve chosen. Talk to graduates of the program and students further along in it. What do they think? Do they see it as helpful? Do they have job opportunities in the field? Did the college career center do mock interviews, review their résumé and help place them? These are all important questions.
2. Does this college provide resources for my spiritual life?
If you’re attending a secular college, you’ll have to work harder to cultivate a thriving spiritual life while in school. But even secular schools have groups like Cru to help you meet other people of faith, form friendships and find a church community to support you. Does this college have any of those opportunities?
Even in a Christian college, mandatory chapel shouldn’t be the extent of your spiritual influence. Do you have Christian friends? Are there any churches in the area you can plug into? You don’t want to spend four years in a spiritual desert during one of the most transitional periods of your entire life.
3. Does this college provide enough academic, spiritual and personal opportunity?
Lastly, this school is supposed to help launch you into your next season of life. Does it offer the opportunities for you to launch well? If you’re going to pay money to an institution, you want it to do the job you’re expecting it to do. What looks great on the marketing literature isn’t always reality. Ask hard questions. Find out where the opportunities and resources are (you might have to hunt them down). Be willing to get a little uncomfortable in order to get the support you need.
Perhaps you will find out the school you’re attending is where you need to stay. Or maybe you need to transfer! Pray about it, seek wise counsel and take into account that your credits might not all transfer to another school. If you’re a junior, it might not be wise to transfer and lose so much money and time. Pray, pray, pray! God is glad to grant us wisdom for tough decisions—even something as seemingly simple as where to go to college.