I was 18, attending the dream school that I had applied to Early Decision.
I was a freshman beginning an exciting college career. I could order takeout from thousands of restaurants, read my seminar texts about the Crusades in a gorgeous city park, see theatre whenever I wanted and I was…miserable.
Feelings of homesickness and adjusting to a new school aside, I felt something was missing. I liked my classes just fine, my roommates were pretty cool, but I couldn’t plug into that joyful “yayyy I love college!!” vibe. To make sure I wasn’t just being too critical and not giving my school a chance, I expanded beyond my dorm room/dining hall radius and tried out a few clubs, chatted with classmates, sat in the park, ate falafel pockets, but nothing worked. I wasn’t happy.
So, what was missing? Basically, everything I thought I had wanted out of a school was holding me back: I wanted to live in a huge, vibrant city…but dodging traffic and being bombarded by the lights, sounds and sights made it hard for me to relax and concentrate on writing that paper. It was a large school, which I thought meant tons of classes to explore and friends to make…but navigating this large school, from the sprawled-out buildings to the online course registration site, was overwhelming and I explored less.
Fast-forward now through months of sad and frustrated phone calls to my friends (who were loving their respective schools, by the way), to the moment someone timidly ventured: “Well, have you considered transferring…?”
That moment was the happiest I’d felt since Orientation Week.
The College Transfer
The realization that I could research other schools, maybe even apply to some, felt extremely freeing. But more importantly, it made me sit down and think about what I really wanted out of a school–I had gone for a big, urban school, and now I knew I needed something a bit smaller, campus-wise and class-size-wise. As a high school senior applying to college, I wanted college to be challenging, and chose a non-traditional campus in a big city because that’s how real life is (or so I thought.) As a freshman in said challenging environment, I realized that moving away from home and adjusting to the rigorous world of college academics is definitely challenging enough in the first place. A more close-knit college environment was where I would feel confident about taking risks in clubs and classes, which would mean more hands-on skills for the real world, post-BA.
Second semester rolled around, and I was in full-force application mode and energized! What used to feel like a daunting, stressful task (I mean, college apps, c’mon) was actually invigorating. In May, I heard back from the schools I applied to and weighed my options. I made the switch to a smaller school, not in a huge city, and it turned out to be my perfect match. It led to a major I wouldn’t have even considered had I not taken a chance exploring departments at my new school, and I held some nifty leadership positions in my extracurricular activities.
However, there will always be room in my heart for my first school. It might not have been my perfect match, but I met great people, took valuable classes, and it helped me get to where I needed to be.
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