When a high school senior commits to a college or university, they must be absolutely sure that the institution is their dream school, right?
It is as if there is a universal expectation for high school seniors to have this important next step in their education figured out. Most prospective freshmen apply to an institution with no doubt that they will be satisfied with their decision. However, after experiencing their first semester, some may discover that their school does not meet all of their needs. Two scenarios can happen after this stage: either the student solves their problems at their current school, or they decide to transfer to a school more capable of suiting their needs.
How many students within the Class of 2021 are contemplating transferring?
It cannot be accurately determined. For the Fall 2016 cohort, Goucher College maintained a decent first-year student retention rate. According to Goucher’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness, 78% of first-year students from the fall semester returned to Goucher to continue their education, and the remaining 22% did not return (2017 Student Profile). The amount of students who transferred is unknown. However, there are a number of current first-year students who are considering transferring. Two students came forward with their accounts, and both wish to be kept anonymous due to personal reasons.
This specific student has not yet decided whether they are transferring. However, they are in the process of thinking it over. Here is their story:
“Before I came to Goucher, I thought that I had chosen the right school. I thought that I would fit in and have a smooth first semester. From what I have experienced so far, that was not the case. In the beginning of the year, it felt like I was meant to be here. But the longer I stay here, the more I realize that it’s not the school for me. First, I think that I am paying too much money into investments that I believe the school does not need at the moment. Instead of expanding the first-year village so fast, more funding could go towards the educational buildings for academic resources. Also, my social experience hasn’t been so great. Sometimes I feel like an outsider in the Goucher community, and that’s not how you should feel at any school, especially while away from home. And when you feel like you don’t fit in, it takes a toll on your emotions. I have an amazing support system here but sometimes that’s not enough to keep me happy. I would rather have a positive connotation for the school that I’m attending than a negative one. Also, I will admit to having some bad experiences during my first semester which could be altering my opinion of the school as a whole. I will keep that in mind as I determine whether I will transfer or not.”
The next student believes that they will transfer after the Spring 2018 semester. This is their story:
“I loved Goucher during the first month of classes. Faculty, staff, and even my peers were so nice and supportive. But, as the semester dragged on, my opinion of the college began to change. Goucher has a very small community, and as a latino student, I feel that my culture is not represented well enough. The school advertises that they have a high ethnic diversity, yet the majority of the student population is white with a sprinkle of other races mixed within. My cultural identity is very important to me, and I feel detached from my home because of the lack of latino representation within the community. Also, the community does not act as close-knit as Goucher states. There are many cliques throughout the school who only interact with people who are similar to them. It’s as if after the first month, people settled on a certain friend group and did not want to branch out and make new friends. I had a hard time finding a consistent friend group, and because of this, my social anxiety rose. As for academics, my classes do not challenge me. I feel that I am paying way too much for a school that doesn’t challenge my mind. And, Goucher policies seem to change every year whether it be in academics, housing, etc., and this appears to me as being unstable. Despite all of this, I do believe that Goucher possesses many pros, however, I think that I could find the same pros at any other school I were to attend.”
There are two notable patterns between the students’ statements. Both believe that they do not belong in Goucher’s community, and although the school strives to strengthen community building, these individuals do not think that there will be a change in the way students interact toward each other. Both students also think that they are paying too much money for what they are receiving from the college. These appear to be the most relevant claims for the students’ decision to transfer. However, they may have a bias against the school from negative experiences encountered throughout their first semester.
Although these are only two accounts from the freshman class, there could be many more first-years who have similar beliefs. It is vital to discuss these issues in order to discover what can be done to change the campus for the better. Not only for current students, but for future students as well.
2017 Student Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2018, from http://www.goucher.edu/institutional-effectiveness/2017-student-profile