I’m a Transfer Student and I Couldn’t be Happier

The summer before my freshman year I was filled excitement: I was about to start my college career at a big state school in Virginia with one of my best friends and older brother right by my side. My future school, James Madison University, seemed beyond perfect–– the social life, academics, and general atmosphere were so appealing. My brother was having such an enjoyable college experience there, and my best friend was already in love with the school, so why wouldn’t I like it? 

We often forget to consider this, but as we all know, our expectations aren’t always what they seem to be. To put it simply, by this past October I already knew the school I had chosen wasn’t for me. JMU is a great school, and there’s a lot that I’ll always like about it, but I was never able to call the school “mine.” I got involved on campus and genuinely gave the school a chance, but as the semester went on I couldn’t help but feel like I made the wrong decision––which was tough to deal with. 

By Family Weekend in the fall I had told my family about my desire to transfer and soon after I had told my friends. My friends and family couldn’t have been more supportive and were ready to assist me in any decision I made. It was hard dealing with the fact that my first school didn’t work out for me, and it was only going to get harder as I began to search for the right school. 

One of the main reasons why I wanted to transfer was to be closer to home. I’m from New Jersey, so being a 6-hour car drive from home was challenging. I had never been this far away from home for this long, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. There’s the common misconception that going to school close to home is “inadequate” or “weak.” I soon learned that there’s nothing wrong with staying close to home, if anything there’s a great deal of maturity that comes along with that concept.  

Upon picking a school to transfer to, I instantly decided I wanted to be closer to New York City. Although Virginia isn’t technically the south, the lifestyle there was just different than what I was used to. It’s a dream of mine to work in NYC one day, so I thought to myself, what am I doing in Virginia? I felt that going to school closer to the city (and home for that matter) would help further my career by giving me opportunities to have real experiences in a future field of mine. 

My mom suggested I apply to Manhattan College, one of the reasons being my family history at the school. Her, my Aunt, and my Grandfather are all Manhattan alumni, not to mention my parents met here (even though my dad went to a different school). My family was a little biased considering how much they loved the school when they went here. But they assured me of all the amazing qualities at Manhattan that were important to me when making this decision: the community, the Lasallian traditions, the location, and so many more factors. “I feel in my heart you’ll find your place at Manhattan,” my mom would say.

I was starting to see there would be so many benefits if I transferred, rather than if I stayed. But there was something holding me back. When I made the decision to go to JMU, I never thought I’d be one to transfer. Transferring schools was a big step, and throughout the rest of my semester I kept questioning myself to see if I was actually unhappy at JMU and needed to do this. It was hard to decipher if I was upset because I simply just missed home, or that I just didn’t feel at home. 

I sought advice and information from various blogs and internet searches and they all assured me that transferring colleges is a completely normal thing. More people do it than you think. Although it’s a tough decision, only you can make it. One blog I looked at in particular talked about the decision process here, and how to know if you actually want to transfer or if it’s just all in your head. As silly as it may sound, the blog mentioned seeing a sign to be the tell-all factor in this decision. 

Soon after reading that, I saw the sign. 

I had received a purple monogram to hang on my wall as a graduation gift. It was purple because that was JMU’s color, yet for some reason I decided to hang it on my wall with a Kelly-green ribbon, which unbeknownst to me is Manhattan’s color.

I came back to my dorm one day upset, distraught, and confused. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to leave, yet I was scared to follow through with actually transferring. I looked right in front of me and noticed my hanging monogram––I knew it was a sign. Although my college experience started at JMU, it would ultimately be held up by Manhattan.

I’m not saying that there always needs to be a sign when it comes to decisions like these. The sign wasn’t really a deciding factor for me, it was more of just a reassurance. My subconscious probably convinced myself that this exact sign validated my want to transfer. Yet deep down, in my heart I knew this was right for me, regardless of the sign. It was just nice getting a message that gave reason to my decision. 

By thanksgiving I had officially decided that my future was going to be at Manhattan College. I had a certain feeling about Manhattan, one that I never really had at JMU, a feeling that can only be described by the saying “sometimes you just know.” 

I officially started my experience at Manhattan this past January and I can happily say it’s the college experience I want to be having. The community has been more than accepting, and I’ve met some of the nicest people here. Although the transition from a big school to a smaller school took some getting used to, it didn’t take me long to feel at home here. Honestly, one of the worst parts about making the switch was having the same conversation over and over again with random people when they ask you how school is. But I promise, if you don’t feel at home at your school it’s worth it to go where your happiest. 

I never thought I’d be the one kids from my high school would gossip about when they heard I was “unhappy” at school. But that’s another misconception- people always assume that because you transferred it’s a bad thing, when actually it’s an amazing thing. I left JMU so I could find a school that was better fit for me. A school where I could feel more at home. There’s a plethora of reasons why I wanted to transfer, yet the only reason that matters is that I couldn’t be happier here, at Manhattan.