The Decision to Transfer: When You Know, You know

When I was applying to colleges my senior year of high school, I had one main goal in mind: get into a four-year university and actually stay there for four whole years. I know this goal is pretty much a given for most college applicants, but for me specifically, it was everything. I moved around a lot when I was younger and always had schools picked out for me by my parents. So, when it came time to choose a school for myself, I really wanted to do it right. I applied to over twenty schools and wrote more essays than I even want to remember. Long story short, I was a complete and total stress case this time last year. And to top it all off, I made my final college decision on the very last day I could: May 1st.

I thought that the big, far away school—which would offer me all four seasons and a beautiful campus I would never get tired of exploring—was the perfect fit for me. However, as seen in the title of this article, the university I chose wasn’t everything I’d imagined it to be. I’m glad I went though, even only for a little while, because how would I have known what it was like if I hadn’t gone and tried it at all?

Something that became blatantly obvious to me after I made the decision to transfer schools was that the easier thing to do would’ve been to stay. Reentering the stressful college application process was not something I wanted to do, and it was in no way “easier” since I had been through it before. I also realized something else when going through it all again: everyone knows and talks about making the decision to go to a school…but what about the decision to leave?

That “in-between” time, or the time spent deciding whether to stay or go, is a crucial part of the transfer process, yet no one really talks about it. Recently transferring myself, I picked up a few important things to keep in mind when making the decision to switch.

 

Know yourself

           When deciding to leave one place and go somewhere new, the most important thing is to know yourself and know what YOU want. Whether that’s transferring from a small school to a big school or from a big school to a small school, it’s important to take whatever you’ve learned from your experience and use that knowledge to your advantage. Ask yourself questions like, “Am I really happy here?”, “What do I like and what do I not like about this school?”, and “Why did I choose to come here in the first place?” Remember, it’s your decision and it’s a very personal one, so a thorough examination of conscience can really help.

 

Allow yourself to feel the process

           This may not be the case for everyone, but uprooting your life and starting over in a new place can involve a lot of different feelings and emotions. It’s totally normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed, sad, defeated, excited, nervous—seriously anything you feel, it’s real. Giving yourself permission to feel all of the feelings that come with transferring is absolutely necessary for later success. You definitely don’t want to bottle every emotion up and then explode when you get to your new school—so take each day as it comes and stay strong!

 

Leave the past in the past

           Fresh starts are rare in life, so when you get the chance to start over somewhere new, enjoy it! It may be daunting and nerve wracking, but that’s ok because in the end you are in total control of how the new situation plays out. The worst thing a transfer student can do to themselves is let their bad, or not-so-satisfactory, experiences follow them from the old school to the new school. It’s always important to take what you’ve learned in one part of your life and use it to move forward, but you don’t want to let your past ruin the present moment. The main thing to remember is to, get out of your own way and allow yourself to move forward and grow in this new chapter of your life.

 

Be selfish

           One final thing to remember when making the decision to transfer schools is to be selfish! Sometimes certain circumstances can cause other people to really get inside your head. Maybe you know a friend, or even a “frenemy”, at the school you want to transfer to and you don’t know how it’ll affect your friendship if you go there. Maybe the friends you made at your current school are giving you a hard time about leaving. Maybe the people you seek advice from aren’t telling you what you want to hear or aren’t being at all helpful. But here’s the thing, the decision is yours and yours alone to make. Try your best to clear out all those “what-if’s” from your mind and just make the right choice for YOU. After all, college is only a few years of your life so you’re gonna want to enjoy every minute of it. Be proud of yourself, because the decision to transfer is definitely not an easy one. But when you know what’s best for you, switching schools may be the most worthwhile thing you’ll ever do.