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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Transfer While on Academic Probation?

Jan. 4, 2012

Can I Transfer While on Academic Probation?

Question: Can a student transfer while on Academic Probation?

I had a LOT of trouble in my first semester of college. Health problems due to a complete change in climate, depression and anxiety problems due to being off my medicine for the first time, and just general trouble and incompatibility with my school as a whole. It led to me being put onto Academic Probation.


As such, I'd really like to transfer after this coming Spring semester, but I'm not sure if I even could.

Should I go for it or stick it out for this Spring and Fall until I am officially declared off of it? Can you transfer while on Academic Probation?

When you apply to transfer, the application will ask an official at your current college to indicate if you are in good academic standing. If the answer is, “NO,” then he or she is required to explain. You can provide your college administrator with information that will help him or her respond to this question. You can also write a similar letter (or essay) of your own to put your struggles in perspective. Some institutions will admit you despite your blemished record. However, your transfer options will be far broader if you are able to wait until your grades have improved and you are no longer on probation. If you apply with your current transcript, you will probably be limited to schools that are far less selective than those you want to attend or even to those with open admission policies (i.e., they accept almost everyone). On the other hand, if you feel that your depression is likely to persist at your current school, then you might be better off leaving as soon as possible, even if it means attending a far less competitive college.

Finally, don’t discount the option of a gap year. Perhaps some time off from school will allow you to stabilize your meds (or learn to cope without them), address your other health issues, and enjoy a welcome break from the daily demands of academics. You could even consider taking a course or two at a community college (or other local school) during your time off. This would help to counterbalance your weak transcript but without the demands of full-time college.

Good luck to you, whatever you decide.

(posted 1/4/2012)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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