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If you or your child as a freshman in college ever considers transferring to a different school for sophomore year, I’ve got just three words for you:  Don’t Do It!

Last fall when Rosie was sinking into deeper and deeper depression in the cornfields of Northern Illinois and buying groceries at Wal-Mart, it seemed like a no-brainer that she should re-apply to some more suitable schools and transfer. When I talked to folks about the dilemma/decision many reassured me that lots of people transfer, it’s easy, and quite common.

What no one told me, and what you will not see on any college web site, is that transfer student applications are shoved to the bottom of the pile, and in fact many schools don’t notify transfer applicants of receipt of their application, much less whether they are accepted or not, until just days before the student must decide which college they will attend.

In fact, after Rosie’s transfer decision had been made, we found out that most UCs (University of California) don’t even take transfer applications from entering sophomores – only juniors. She was only able to apply to two UCs (the somewhat less expensive option) and one of them told me flat-out on the phone that they don’t accept  many sophomores.

Well, guess what? She didn’t get into either of them. But of course they waited until the end of April to inform her, leaving us with our hopes up for months and spending money and time on a visit to Irvine when it was not necessary as they probably barely looked at her application.

Apparently to be accepted as a transfer into a UC you need to be an incoming junior who has completed all of the college general education requirements, preferably at a California community college.

When we realized that the UC system did not take many, if any, sophomore transfers we asked if she could just apply as a freshman. After all she’d only had one semester of college.

But, no. We were told that once a person has graduated from high school, if they’ve taken even one college class they are considered a transfer.

So , if you’ve made the mistake of trying to improve yourself through a college-level course, you are instantly thrown to the bottom of the applicant pool should you ever attempt to enter college full-time.

You won’t find that information on their web sites either.

This long rant just leads into my report that we are STILL WAITING to find out whether Rosie is in or not for four different colleges.

It turns out that May 1 is only a loose deadline for notifications. Two of the colleges (who will remain nameless – at least until I know whether they are true friends or enemies) sent her an email on April 28 to let her know that her application was incomplete. April 28! And she sent in the applications in January.

It took them till the end of April to let her know that her advisor at NIU had failed to completely feel out the “College Officials Form.” In addition to confirming the classes she had taken, grades, etc., he was supposed to pass the form on to the Dean of Students so he or she could check off the box that says Rosie has never been convicted of a crime.

Because that box was not checked and signed off, her application was in limbo. AAARGH! A different school somehow lost both of her teacher recommendations. It seems doubtful they were never sent since all the other colleges received them.

So the Friday before my big party I spent hours making phone calls to the East Coast and Midwest, and running to Kinko’s to fax forms to the Dean of Students at NIU.  Meanwhile, Rosie was en route to Arcata from Santa Cruz, and trying to call the colleges while cell service was available.

Ugh.

Come Monday, Rosie calls the East Coast colleges to ask, have you received the forms? No. She calls NIU again. “Oh,” the Dean of Students tells her, “The forms you faxed weren’t right, I need a blank form. You crossed off the section that your advisor filled out.”

That’s because the colleges told us you don’t need to fill that part out, she says.

Doesn’t matter, he won’t fill out these forms.

Gee, thanks for the phone call letting us know. The fax was signed off with the entreaty:  “Please contact me immediately if there is any problem.”

So it’s off to Kinko’s again, this time sending several versions so that we can be completely sure he will do this.

On Wednesday, Rosie’s daily phone call confirms that the schools have received the stupid form. But one tells her they won’t be processing it for a few days. The other clarifies that they also need a recommendation, not just from her high school teacher, but from one of her college professors. So she has to beg one of her teachers to write a recommendation RIGHT NOW and fax it.

A prominent New York university had told her she would be notified by mail by May 1, so I’ve been checking the mail box twice daily, fingers crossed, taking a deep breath before I open the door. But nothing. Finally yesterday Rosie called them.

“Oh, we don’t notify transfer applicants until the 15th,” they told her.

What??

Don’t they realize that transfers have to plan their lives, just like freshmen do?

What about financial aid? The freshmen have all sent in their confirmations of attendances by May 1. Does that mean that all the financial aid disbursements are used up before transfers even get a chance? Will the countless hours spent on applications, visits, and xeroxing tax returns be for nothing because she won’t be offered any aid?

And what about housing reservations for the dorms? I know that lots of the schools have a limited amount of dorm rooms – will there be any left for the hapless sophomore transfer?

As Rosie commented to a friend on Facebook, “This be killing me softly.”

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