Q: I am a sophomore in high school, but I am already looking at colleges and think I want to transfer between several campuses. I was wondering if that is even possible – to attend not just one or two, but even three colleges without adding any extra years. If so, would I be able to transfer between any school I like, or would a certain school's transfer program limit my choices?
A: Not only are you thinking ahead, you are thinking TOO far ahead! Generally, I tell sophomores that it really is too early to start planning for college (other than being open-minded and making academics their #1 priority). But your question about transferring is something that concerns many students.
Generally, students do not plan ahead to transfer unless they attend a two-year school (such as a community college) for an Associate's degree, and want to move from there to a 4-year college so they can graduate with a Bachelor's degree.
Once in a four-year college, students transfer for any of a number of reasons:
• The school they currently attend is disappointing, so they leave
• They change majors to one not offered at the first college
• They find the cost of the first college untenable and transfer to someplace less expensive
• They want to be at a college closer to home or closer to significant people
Students do not usually start out planning to campus-hop. Are you worried that if you commit to one school, you will miss out on others? Staying at one school, if it turns out that you like it, is really the best idea. This gives you continuity, and allows you to develop the friendships that may last your entire life. Being at one campus also allows you to develop relationships with faculty members who may mentor you.
If you absolutely must try out another campus, you could do this on a study abroad program. Or you may wish to enroll at a college that is part of a consortium – such as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst or Smith College – that allows students to cross-register.
Each college will have its own rules about transferring. Some may accept your credits, while others will not. All colleges have a minimum number of courses that must be completed on their campus if you wish to earn a degree there.
You would be served best at this point to make yourself a strong academic candidate for individual colleges. Save your concerns for transferring until later!