I’ve really changed my direction. Will I have to transfer?
The simple answer? “No!”
Often students panic when they finally settle on a direction or career that really suits them. Their first thought may be “I have to transfer to Some Other College, because they have my 'Special Major' there."
Transferring to another school almost always means a delay in progress toward graduation of a term, a year, or more. The major and DR requirements may be different at the target school. Often no class graded below a “C” can be transferred. It’s easy to fall behind, and readjustment can be tough, especially since everyone already knows each other. Before you make a final decision talk to the Registrar and your advisor. We may be able to help to clarify your particular situation.
You may be able to continue at Alma even if your direction has radically changed. Consider the following options:
Select a new major. Your solution may be as simple as selecting a new major and developing a plan to catch up. Talk to an advisor or the Registrar to get an idea of your options.
Verify that your new choice really does fit your skills, abilities, and values.Sometimes it’s easy to leap enthusiastically in a new direction to avoid a temporary problem. Get help from professionals who know you and the field you are considering. Ask lots of questions.
Investigate the breadth that is acceptable in your new area. Your exact major often isn’t as important as the classes you take. You may be able to continue in a major at Alma and add in additional courses (either at Alma or over the summer) to get the same “coverage”. Many careers involve advanced training; it may not matter exactly what your major is called.
Compare the program at other locales. Track down your anticipated “field of study” at several schools and print out the requirements and course descriptions. You’ll likely be surprised at how much overlap there is. This information can be used to broaden your major. An excellent cover letter detailing your choices can convince employers and graduate programs to focus on your advantages and your fit for the position.
Combine a major and a minor. Sometimes Alma may have what you want, but it may be broken up into different “bundles” than what you expect. Academic minors are optional for Alma students (except most education certification students), but a major/minor combination can often fill the gaps you may perceive in your preparation.
Construct a new major. A POE, which stands for “Program of Emphasis,” is an option whereby you and your advisor construct your own major. The POE must be approved in advance by the POE committee and cannot be used to avoid classes within a major or to substitute for standard major/minor combinations. Foreign Service is one long standing POE already established at Alma. See the Catalog and the Registrar for more information on this flexible option, and talk to an advisor for help.
Sometimes transferring makes sense. If you are extremely unhappy, have serious medical or family issues, or must delay your education due to financial demands, then transferring may be a good option. Staff at the Registrar's Office or the Center for Student Development can help you figure out a strategic plan for success and possible return.
Before you make a final decision, though, be sure to think it through carefully and investigate all the options.