Recently the National Student Clearinghouse Center published their Signature Report that found one-third of all college students transfer at some point over the course of a five-year period leading up to graduation. Transfer rates have long been followed and examined, but what I found noteworthy was part of the authors’ conclusion, “Moreover, rather than focusing criticism on institutions when they fail to capture the entirety of each student’s educational career, it would properly recognize all of the institutions that play a role within that career.”
Today’s students have more options than any other generation and we’ve made it so easy for people to change their mind over and over and over again. On the one hand, options mean more access for more people; take social media for example – people who have internet can get updates almost immediately after something happens. But it also encourages what I’ve seen in the millennial generation – an impatient and fickle state of mind. If I don’t like something – poof – I’ll get something else, go somewhere else or simply just walk away. I’ve seen texting take precedent over actually talking and this means teenagers aren’t learning to respond, react and articulate their thoughts and emotions in real-time. What happens then, when they leave home and face real-life and real-time challenges?
And so I wonder if the authors’ conclusion stated above is just too lenient on all of us. Things get rough for practically every college student and certainly they are subject to change their mind, but is it too much to expect that we encourage young people to follow-through on their choices? Is there any reason not to expect that colleges implement, and whole-heartedly execute freshmen and sophomore programming that meets the needs of their specific population? And for those of us mentoring college students, at what point do we support transferring?
Of course, there are always circumstances that might warrant a transfer, but at least in my experience with college students, their reasons for wanting to transfer are most often in the realm of lack of academic confidence, homesickness and what I like to call the I have no idea who I am and therefore, I want a change, any change and I’m not sure any of these are reason enough not to work through on a single college campus.
*Note: the entire report provides a thorough and compelling examination of the topic not limited to what’s mentioned here.