How to Help Your Student

banner reads, "welcome transfer students!"

Attend Parent/Family Transfer Orientation

If the school provides a transfer orientation for parents and families, sign up for it. Your attendance will show your student that you value and support this transition.

If you can’t attend, find out from the orientation office if there are any options for getting the information. Some schools will offer a Saturday orientation for families that can’t make it during the week. Some are developing online orientations. Another possibility is getting a copy of the orientation schedule. As you look through the schedule, what questions or concerns do you have? With those questions, you can either contact the orientation office or ask your student to find the answers.

Understand the Reasons for Transferring

Maybe all you hear is that your student wants to leave school. You can best provide support if you know why. Ask for an explanation of how they made their decision:

  • What isn’t working for them where they are? (If they can articulate their concerns, they will know what they don’t want next time around.)
  • What IS working? (This will be helpful to look for as they select their next school.)
  • Do they want to drop out completely, or do they plan to transfer? (There’s a difference. If they plan to continue right away, they will need to make decisions about where to go and begin the application process. They may want to take a gap year while they decide what’s next. If so, what will they do during that year?)
  • If your student is homesick, frustrated, or just wants to drop out, encourage them to stay where they are and consider this a one-year commitment. Suggest that they find a student organization, a sports activity, or something that will connect them to other students and to the school. Remind them that studying is the reason they’re in school, and they need to be engaged in their coursework. When students are busy and engaged, they are more likely to make friends and adjust successfully.
  • Parents can ask their student to come up with a plan that identifies their personal and academic goals and includes the steps needed to achieve them. For students who were suspended from the previous school, it’s important to have a thoughtful strategy outlining how to avoid problems as they move on.

Acknowledge the Transition Challenges

student walking across the street

(Image via Darling Magazine)

Students and family members should understand that transferring brings challenges. When students are ready to start at a new school, they should expect the first semester to be hard. As transfer students, they probably won’t get their first choices in classes, and they will not have the best class schedule. Schools usually give registration priority to continuing students with higher credit loads completed. When they register in the future, they will get that priority!

Students will have to learn new systems, policies, and a new campus culture. Their grades may drop. The student may not understand how classes are managed and graded at a new school. They probably won’t have a reliable group of friends when they transfer.

  • Parents should remind their student that just because they knew how something worked at the old school they should not assume it’s the same at the new school. Deadlines and policies may be significantly different. Reassure them that the experience they gained at their original school will help them figure things out more quickly this time.