Why Transferring Universities Changed My Life

My college experience has been anything but conventional.

 

I chose my first university when I was 16 and still in high school, two whole years before I could ever apply or be accepted as a student. In order for that thought to make sense, I should mention that I am a planner and self-proclaimed “minor control freak.” I love to think about the future and plan ahead, whether it be a weekend trip with friends or potential career choices.

 

Knowing this, I chose that original university because it was the first one I found in my research that I actually liked and was different from what I had gotten used to in the community I grew up in. I wanted to have a plan going into my junior year of high school, knowing that it would be the year I took the ACTs and really honed in on my grades.

 

So there I was, a 16 year old attempting to make a decision that would direct my life for the next four years as well as likely determining the trajectory of my career. No pressure, right?

 

Over the next two years, I continued to prepare to apply to this school and completely ignored any other options that came my way. My determination to go to this school gave me blinders to all other opportunities, including the schools researched by my twin brother.

 

In my senior year of high school, I applied to the school with early admission and received an acceptance within three weeks of applying. I spent the rest of my senior year enjoying the time I had left in high school and preparing for what I thought would be an extraordinary adventure.

In the month following graduation, I began to feel major doubt about my chosen school. Internally panicking, I tried desperately to convince myself that everything I was feeling was just the normal fear that comes with leaving home for the first time.

 

Following graduation, my family and I took some out-of-state relatives with us to visit both my twin brother’s and my future universities. Both campuses were about an hour and a half from my family’s home, and were about 45 minutes away from each other. I gave my miniature tour first, and then we visited my brother’s future stomping grounds: Colorado State University.

 

The moment I stepped onto Colorado State’s campus, I knew I had made a mistake in choosing my other university. The campus felt like home, like I had always belonged there.

 

My internal panic began to rise again, and I made a deal with my parents and with myself: if I truly hated the university I was enrolled in after a year, I would apply to transfer to CSU. This gave me comfort and allowed my neurotic, planning brain to relax, knowing that I had a backup plan if I needed it.

 

When I started my very first semester of college that August, I knew that I made the wrong choice within days. Every class, every day, and every interaction confirmed that feeling. The campus felt foreign, unfriendly, and unforgiving. So, the moment that the transfer application opened for the upcoming spring semester, I ditched my original contingency plan and filled it out.

 

For an agonizing month, I waited by my computer screen constantly refreshing my email, just waiting for the approval that would allow me to start over in the place I had always needed to be. The entire month of September 2016 is a blur for me, and to be quite honest, I don’t have much memory of what else was happening in my life at that time. I lived and breathed my transfer application, knowing that it was my ticket out of the town and university that had come to make me so miserable.

 

In the late afternoon of September 26, 2016, my waiting came to a screeching halt as I finally received the email I’d spent every waking moment thinking about. The message “Welcome to the Ram Family, Brooke!” popped up as I refreshed my inbox, and I could swear that for one, fleeting moment, time around the world stopped. My tears of joy and relief were immediate, and I called my parents to share the news before I even finished reading the acceptance letter.

 

Within the week, I had confirmed my acceptance, begun my housing application, and had given my current university the formal notice that I would leave at the semester mark.

 

In the following spring, I began my journey with Colorado State. Undeclared, uncontrollably excited, and undeniably nervous, I moved into the dorms and started all over again. This time was nothing like the first. Within days, I had made new friends in my classes, figured out the fastest ways to get to class and had actually left my dorm to do some of those cheesy freshmen activities organized by the Residence Hall Councils.

 

The feeling of being welcome and knowing that I belonged at CSU was apparent within days of arriving, when in my past experience I had known within days that I was in the wrong place. Since that spring, I have truly found where I belong. I declared a major that excites me every day, found a minor that challenges my worldview, found an on-campus family that supports me and loves me no matter what, and had the fortune to find a job that allows me to help students that are experiencing the same things that I did when I first arrived at CSU.

 

If you are someone who is considering transferring universities, I would absolutely encourage you to do so. If you don’t feel happy with where you are, know that it is entirely possible and acceptable to make a change. Transferring is one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it completely changed the trajectory of my life and career.

 

In literature, spring is always referred to as being the time of symbolic rebirth. Transferring universities allowed me the room to do exactly that – grow and be reborn in the place I had always needed to find. Know that happiness is out there, and that you will find it if you look for it.