Attending a College from the Bottom of Your List

Following the wave of rejections and waitlist statuses from every college I applied to in high school, I waded in a sea of friends going to their dream schools. From early decision acceptances in December, my top-of-the-class friends posting their Likely Letters on Snapchat, and the elaborate commitment parties our school hosted for student-athletes, I eagerly awaited a moment of my own… and it never came. March and April dragged on with my future still unclear until I finally got off one waitlist—the last school on my list. I committed shortly after I got my acceptance email, a few hours shy of May 1, but still felt unhappy. Why should I go somewhere that didn’t really want me?

The short answer: I had to.

 I tried my best at going into orientation and Welcome Week with an open mind, but the talk of “we chose you to be here,” and “you wanted to be here” made my new home feel like anything but. A large portion of my class comes from Early Decision; it felt like everyone around me not only wanted to be here, but wanted me to want that, too. To keep myself busy, I read about transfer options, explored my new city, and checked in with far-away friends. All of them raved with excitement and school spirit and I knew I deserved that, too, instead of spending my time in my room browsing Instagram. But transferring wasn’t as accessible an option as I had thought.

Everyone had said, upon hearing my story, that if a school weren’t a good fit, transferring was a respectable option. I didn’t feel any stigma when I clicked on the applications—it was everything else that turned me away. Many schools don’t offer spring transfer for second-semester first-year students, and those that do often have deadlines in early October, right as my classes picked up the pace. Even with time management, the requirement of transcripts limited me greatly: I didn’t have any final grades in September of my first semester. Places without transcript requirements were few and far between and often didn’t fit what I was looking for, anyway. In combination with the steep application fees to finance as a broke college student, I ended up applying to only two transfer programs. One rejected me after fifteen days, citing the lack of grades on my transcript, and the other requested that I send my transcript in December and just hope for a quick decision.

Writing essays about myself isn’t my strong suit. I already went through the process. And I really don't know that I can handle starting over again.

Staying for the spring semester brings lots of hope. My friends from high school that are now sophomores said their rough falls made them want to transfer, but bright springs made them feel that they belonged. The chance for an easier schedule (no 8ams!), spring sorority recruitment, better weather, and more friends makes me hopeful that I belong here, too.

I don’t really have one “thing you should do” to adjust to your new life at school—things suck sometimes. Floormates leaving the common spaces a mess, missing your family and friends, social media showing that everyone else is having a better time than you: it hurts. What helped me the most was talking about it. Bunching up how I feel does nothing but make me feel worse, so I try my best to keep up with people that I know will listen. My college advisor has been a great resource, too. I was originally afraid to mention my aspirations of transferring to someone who worked here, but advisors are just there to help you succeed. If another institution can do that best, they’ll help you get there.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m trying to be grateful for the opportunities I have, even though they aren’t ideal. Attending college is a privilege, period. I am thankful to be in school despite my situation. Maybe I’ll come to laugh at this article in a few months—how ridiculous to imagine I was that unhappy, I’ll say. Or maybe I’ll actually have transferred by this point next year. Wherever the future takes me, life has thrown some tough curveballs my way. Learning from experiences like these, and moving forward afterward, has made me who I am.  And I love who I am—even if the places I applied to don’t.

 

Photos: Header, 1