The Truth About Transferring Colleges

I often worry that I talk too much about transferring sometimes. However, I think the reason I do this is because it is seldom brought up and I feel that it definitely needs to be talked about more. As I have lived through these grueling past two years of college, I have learned a couple important life lessons that should be mentioned:

  1. You will become broke as a result of online shopping and late night pizza deliveries, so make sure to budget your money carefully.
  2. Not everyone has the “classic” college experience that we all feel so pressured to live out. It is the stereotypical one we all dream about that I am sure you know: you move away from home, go to one place for four years and meet your best friends at freshman orientation. Then, you get into the program of your dreams, fall in love with your school and everything it has to offer and the rest is history, right? Yeah, no. This doesn't always happen. Especially not in this digital and very public age we millennials live in, but that’s okay.

When I began my freshman year of college, I thought that I saw my path clearly laid out in front of me. I would graduate from a small liberal arts college with a degree that would lead me to becoming a high school English teacher and live happily ever after, no questions asked. Accepting that this was not going to be my reality was a hard pill to swallow. People often ask me, “when did you know you wanted to leave?”. The truth is, I don’t have a clear cut answer to that. Speaking candidly however, I knew my former college was not the right place for me even before I began. But I neglected these feelings and brushed them aside, blaming them on anxiety.

I wanted to go into this experience with a positive attitude and harboring negative feelings of doubt was not the way to do that. I wanted to be fully present in where I was at that moment in my life. But those feelings came back on move-in day, when it finally hit me like a ton of bricks, I was not going to graduate from here. I didn’t know how that would play out, or if it was just an intrusive thought, but I buried it in the back of my mind. The fall of freshman year took off and as I got involved in clubs and began to bond with other students, those thoughts got buried even more.

As the year progressed, my feelings turned into a reality. By the time the second semester rolled around, I had never felt more lost or abandoned. Even though I was putting on a good face to my floormates, my friends and everyone from home, I was miserable. I never had talked about transferring before, let alone considered it. But there came a point when I knew that I had to do it as I had realized that my school wasn’t going to fulfill my future career, academic goals or social needs. So, I took a leap of faith and sent in an application to UD.

Getting in was the easiest part, while in contrast, the transition to UD was the hardest. Having conquered college before, I knew that it would be difficult, but not to the extent that it was and still is. If you are looking for a culture shock, try going from a student body of 2,500 to 22,000. The first few months were extremely overwhelming to the point where I considered dropping out of school altogether to work at Ann Taylor Loft and no, that is not a joke. I suddenly felt the need to catch up to all of my other peers who were sophomores and it seemed nearly impossible to do so. I did not know where anything was, I didn’t know what to get involved with, and I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t gone on my former school’s website and looked up information on how to transfer back. But I habituated with time and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer considering employment in retail anytime soon, nor will I be returning to central Pennsylvania. Being the nerdy English major I am, I see it like this: As a freshman, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond, swimming alongside the other new fish. As a transfer, it can often feel like you’re the lone fish, swimming on your own.

So far, transferring has proven itself to be an extremely positive decision for me. While I’ve definitely had moments of weakness throughout the semester, I’ve been able to overcome those by reflecting on the strong person that I’ve become. I don’t want to glamorize transferring, as I truly believe everyone should give it their all to adapt to a new environment. However, I do want to normalize it, in that it’s okay to give it your all and if that isn’t enough, you should listen to that and make a change. I can’t promise you that it will be easy, but what I can promise you is that it will be worth it.