My Transfer Story

One of the biggest lies American high school students are told comes out during their junior year. This lie induces uncanny levels of stress and anxiety among students as well as parents, and leads to people breaking up friendships, limiting options, and fighting with family members. The lie we are all told is that the institution you chose to attend after high school is the most important decision you will ever make. 

Like any other high school junior, this decision stressed me out. I could not even begin to think about where I wanted to go to school. Part of me wanted to try something new and leave New Jersey. Part of me wanted to stay close to home and maintain a close relationship with my family and pets. When it came down to it, I chose to apply to four schools after having toured about ten. Two were in-state schools I was happy to attend, two were out-of-state schools that would allow me to explore this curiosity of leaving home without being too far. With the stress of this decision, as well as admittedly wanting to go to a school with a decent reputation, I chose to attend a school that was three hours away from home. 

At first, like every other college student, I was extremely excited. I finally was getting the chance to leave the nest, and let the world truly be my oyster. I loved exploring the town the school was set in. The first month, I felt happy and like an independent woman. Unfortunately, this sensation did not last forever. Within the second month of being away from home, a family tragedy occurred that was hard for me to accept. After having to come home multiple times to be of support to my family, I found myself in limbo. On one hand, I wanted to be away from home because it allowed me to process what had happened and be away from it for a while. On the other hand, I barely had any close friends at school and only one person as a support system. Plus I wanted to be with my family. I began to question if I had made the right choice after all, and contemplated whether or not I should stay. In the end, I decided to give it another semester to see if things would improve—I had been told countless times that freshman year was always difficult, especially the first semester. 

The spring semester started on a positive note. I had some time to relax at home with my family and begin to accept what had happened. I decided to put myself out there at school and join an organization I had never thought I would—a sorority. I did not want to ask my parents for any money concerning this decision, so I decided to take on some jobs at school to afford my membership dues. I ended up having to work five jobs almost every day during the week to pay for it—on top of taking 21 credits and being in multiple clubs. The amount of pressure I had inflicted on myself made it hard for me to connect with others in the sorority, which ultimately led to me feeling disconnected from the others in the organization. This was not the fault of anyone else. My difficulties making friends as well as feeling isolated and alone made it hard for me to retain the same feelings of positivity I initially had. 

Despite all of this pain and struggling, I still wanted to give the school a fair chance. I did not tell anyone what had happened with the sorority or how it made me feel. I bottled everything in and went on to the next semester, which was luckily in the summer. I spent eight weeks in the summer of 2019 on an archaeological dig, which changed my life. I met people from all different backgrounds who were all passionate about archaeology—which is what I want to pursue in life. The instructors and students, who I was lucky enough to work with that summer, remain some of the most positive influences in my life. I took this time to grow and learn things I had never gotten a chance to in a normal classroom setting. I was able to really discover my interests, especially since I had shared a room with a girl who loved Egyptology as much as I do.  As great as this experience was for me, it made me realize that the school I had chosen to attend really was not great for me. I wanted a broader experience with many different facets to study my interests in. Not only that, I wanted to go back home and be close to my loving parents, my younger brother who was going through an even harder time than I was in finishing school, and my grandparents on both sides who I am lucky enough to still have a relationship with and get to see constantly. 

After a few weeks of reflection, a week before I was supposed to move in, I finally had the tough conversation with my parents. I vividly remember being in the car with them on my way to Old Navy for a baby shower gift. My mom asked me what I needed for school and I broke down crying. And there, she knew I did not want to go back. Despite how scared I was to come out and admit it, she and my dad were extremely supportive of my decision and did everything they could to help me drop out of the school. Afterwards, I enrolled in my local community college to keep up with my studies. Ever since I made the decision to leave and come to Rutgers starting Spring 2020, I have been happier and have learned a lot more about myself and my academic interests. Although my college experience has been very rocky, especially now with the pandemic, I regret nothing. I still have close friends from my original school, as well as the community college I went to for one semester. I am glad that I was able to challenge the idea that where we choose to study is final and cannot be changed, and I am more than thankful for all the support I have received from family and friends. Now, as a junior at Rutgers, I look forward to a strong finish in my college career—and hopefully studying abroad! The most important lesson I took away from this experience was that the college you choose to go to, at the end of the day is arbitrary. What matters most is your own happiness in your choices, and how you grow and build your experiences around your decisions.