I would assume that when most people commit to a college, they believe it’s “the One.” They visited the campus, took a tour, figured out what they wanted to (double, triple, quadruple) major in. They applied, they waited for months in agony, and then they finally were accepted. Some people commit to a college because it’s the most affordable option. Some people weren’t accepted to their top choice, and have to settle for a safety school. Despite all these reasons, I would say that most people plan to complete all four years of their college career at the same school.
I was one of those people. I applied to one school, and only one school. I was accepted in September of my senior year, and I was ecstatic. I didn’t have to fill out the Common App. I didn’t have to spend hours and hours after school writing essays and researching schools. But as I look back, I feel like I missed out on a lot. Simply the experience of applying to colleges feels like a rite of passage. Receiving acceptances and posting them on social media is something that most high school seniors are doing nowadays. You’re supposed to apply to a bunch of schools and see where you get in and who gives you the best bang for your buck. Not me, though. I’m a first-generation college student, and admittedly did not have the best guidance when applying. I applied to an out-of-state school that gave me no scholarships, but I figured, hey – everyone has loans. Who cares? Well, once you’re on your own and realize just how much everything costs, you start to care.
I loved the campus—at first. I wanted an urban environment, with lots of stuff going on. I thought, since I’d gone to every single high school football game because I was in marching band, I’d want to go to a school that had a big football team. I didn’t realize that football is super boring when you’re just sitting there watching it. I also was planning on being a psychology major, and figured a big, research-based university, with an emphasis on science and engineering and a great med school, would be a good place to be. I also didn’t realize how hard it would be to be six hours away from my family.
I didn’t think I would change my mind, but I did. I thought I would be happy, but I wasn’t. I changed my major, felt ostracized by professors that sometimes seemed to care more about their own research than the students they were teaching. Now, I’m not saying that my old school is a bad school. It’s a great school, a really great school. It’s just not the school for me.
So, I’m transferring back to a school in my own home state. It’s the exact opposite of my first school—a small, liberal arts college in a rural area among the mountains. Their sports teams are in Division III. It’s 45 minutes away from the home I grew up in. It might sound like a step backward, but I think it’s actually a giant leap forward. I’m admitting that the choice I made turned out to not be the right one, and rather than stick it out for two more years in a place I was unhappy, I decided to go somewhere else, somewhere where I felt like I wouldn’t be lost in a sea of 18,000 students. I’m going to be closer to my family, which is a big deal for me. It sucks to only see the people you love twice a year, because you can’t afford to go home more often.
I don’t regret anything. I had the experience of traveling to apply for an internship, renting my first apartment, learning how to juggle a part-time job, schoolwork, and taking care of myself. I lived in a completely unfamiliar area all on my own. And, as it turns out, it just wasn’t for me. But that’s okay, that’s why colleges offer transfer admission. It’s not a failure, it’s a learning experience. I’m excited to move forward and see what opportunities this new school offers me, and how experiencing the two sides of the spectrum will shape my future.