“A match be to made, not a prize to be won.”

Maybe the single most important quote ever attached to the college search process.

But, sometimes, even after cross-country road trips and long hours of internet research and conversations with admission counselors and athletic recruiters and comparisons of various financial aid offerings, the wonderful courtship doesn’t produce the perfect match.

That’s why you have divorce lawyers and transfer counselors.

So, what do you do?

  • Acknowledgment – Is this just freshman nerves and insecurity or real issues of incompatibility?  Sit down and write down: What is it that is causing this feeling? Look at what you wrote down.  Is it tangible?  If so, is it fixable?  Often times, it is better to stay put and work through the problems.  But, not always…
  • Acceptance –  The beautiful campus in the brochure has turned to the frozen tundra and the professor who seemed like the perfect mentor has left for another institution.   I thought I would love Nursing, but there’s – like- science involved.  I thought I’d like the country setting, but cows scare me.  It’s just not working out.  Most students who enter college do not graduate from that college.  You are not alone.
  • Plan, Don’t Panic Don’t stop going to classes.  Don’t withdraw if you’re halfway through the semester.  Make sure you know what your current institution’s policies are in terms of dropping classes.  What will it cost you – full tuition, or partial tuition?  Will you get a failing grade or an incomplete?

What school might meet the needs that this school didn’t meet?  How many credits (and which credits) will be accepted by your potential suitors?  What type of aid package, if any, can you expect?

While it won’t be the length and intensity of your 1st college courtship, this 2nd college search should still be a serious decision, maybe a decision made with more facts and less emotion, now that you’ve been through this before.  Or you may be making a 3rd or 4th trip down the Bursar’s aisle.

  • Talk – to faculty and administrators you may trust at your first institution.  To your parents.  To friends from high school and newly made friends from college.  To a transfer counselor at any school you may be considering for the future.  Heck, call or email me; I’ll be glad to help.
  • Don’t walk away – While I am a big believer in lifetime learning and college being just as viable at 40 as it is at 20, I would strongly discourage “walking away”.  You chose your first college for valid reasons and – unless those reasons have changed – you should continue your journey.  There is a big difference between saying that going to College X was a mistake and saying that going to College was a mistake. Make sure you know what statement you’re making because it is always harder to start something again once you stop.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.

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