Two Point Penalty

In dressage, if you make a mistake in the middle of your test (something known as “an error of course”), the judge penalizes you by two points, rings the bell to stop you, and then asks you to go back a few movements and proceed with the rest of the test as though you didn’t make the error in the first place.  As a dressage competitor, I’ve had this happen to me several times, most notably when I forgot my canter half-passes at the end of Fourth Level Test 2 a few years back.

Blissfully unaware, I came down centerline and halted in front of judge Anita Owen, who looked up at me calmly and, in her wonderful Swedish accent, said, “You finish too soon.”

This is the fateful Fourth Level test – though this picture was taken during the trot half-passes, which I remembered to include.


Laughing at my own mistake, I picked up the reins, cantered over to do the half-passes, and then RE-halted to conclude the test.  Even with the two points off for the error, I still scored over 60 percent and managed to place in the class.

And I’ve never forgotten the half-passes since.

For students searching for their perfect fit school, I encourage them to be diligent in their search (of course!), but also to treat it a bit like that pesky dressage test I just described.  More specifically, while it’s my goal for every student to find their dream school, enroll as a freshman, and enjoy a wonderful and educational four years there, that isn’t always a guaranteed outcome.  The average transfer rate in the U.S. is approximately one in three, which means that one third of ALL college students in this country don’t finish college at the same institution they started as in their first year.  Moreover, there are hosts of reasons why students don’t stay at their original institution and not all reasons for transfer are negative (e.g. “I hated the school,” “I had a bad experience,” etc.), but rather, many times it’s a simple as discovering a new interest that requires changing to a major not offered by the first school.

The bottom line is:  many students transfer between schools each year and doing so is okay.  (In fact, that one in three ratio even seems to indicate that it’s accepted as par for the course  when you embark on a college education.)

So rather than fretting over “What happens if I don’t like the school I choose in the end?”, change your mindset a little bit.  Think of transferring not as a complete and utter failure to adapt to a particular school, but rather consider it to be an error of course, just like in dressage.  Yes, you’ll get a small, two point penalty (maybe a few early credits won’t transfer to your new institution or maybe there are some extra fees involved in the transfer process), but in the end, you’ll also get the opportunity to stop, go back, and do some of your early college experience over again (and hopefully it goes better the second time around)!

Want help finding your first OR second college?  Contact me and I’ll help you search!


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