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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

Dear Fellow Transfer Student,

You are brave, that cannot be overstated enough. Whether you had always planned to transfer, you were forced to, or it was all just a big mistake the first time around, I feel you. Transferring colleges can feel taboo depending on your circumstances – at least it did to me. The entire college application process makes you feel like this is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life and so much is riding on it: the pressure to get into a good school, have a fun four years, and leave with lifelong friends. It sounds great. But that wasn’t how it went for me, and chances are, you’re in the same boat. 

When I was a junior in high school in 2020, I had no idea how I was supposed to apply to colleges and ultimately make a decision. The world felt like it was imploding around me and I did not feel prepared to dive head-first into college, but I did anyway. I ended up deciding to go to American University in Washington, D.C. to be a poli sci major. Don’t get me wrong, I met some cool people at AU and I’m grateful for the things I learned and experienced there but it definitely was not going to be my home for the next three years. I did not even consider the possibility of transferring schools until the summer after freshman year. 

Deciding to transfer and figuring out a plan going forward was hard. My parents were on board but they were a little bit shocked it had come to this. I can’t help but think they were a little disappointed in the way things had gone and how complicated my college experience had become. After reapplying to a bunch of schools, the universe wanted to play a pretty huge joke on me I guess because I ended up in Ann Arbor, the city my parents live in. Wow. Coming to Umich was the right decision, even though it was shocking. The whole process made me think about how everyone’s experience in college is different and that one experience isn’t better than another just because it looks more conventional. 

I know how hard it can be to not have the perfect four years that American colleges promise, but this does not mean that your college experience can’t be great. I’ve learned that part of being in college is making your own experiences apart from what others may be doing. Being at a big school, like Umich, can make it feel like you have to do certain things – like going to football games or partying every weekend or joining a sorority – but the reality is that all you have to do is what you think will make your college experience the best for you! There is no one path for everyone in college, especially not at a school as big as this one, and I think people forget that. 

But, I do want to acknowledge that it can be hard to be a transfer student, and not just when you’re at school. I can’t even count on my hands how many times I have been asked about my decision to transfer outside of being at school. Family, friends, friends of my family, etc. all have seemingly endless questions and inquiries into my situation and why my first school didn’t work. At times, it can feel patronizing because it brings up the fact it didn’t work out perfectly the first time for me and it is still hard to forget what could have been if I chose to go somewhere else in the first place. 

Even though many things are hard about being a transfer, I try to focus on the beauty of what it has brought me. For me, going through the process of transferring to a new school came with new lessons about learning how to navigate imperfect situations. I am also grateful for the dual college experience I got and all of the different people I could meet by going to two different schools. For me, the experience of being a transfer student has made me grow in appreciation for things that may not be perfect but allowed me to grow and navigate unfamiliar circumstances, all of which are important things in life. 

No matter how or why you transferred, I’m glad you’re here. I hope that you have found your rhythm at Umich and I want you to know that you’re not alone in your feelings – whether they’re positive or negative. I’m so proud of you for taking the step and making the right decision to transfer schools, it takes courage to step out of the norm but you did it! Good luck on the rest of your college journey, however it may look. I know everything is going to work out :)

With Much Love,

A Fellow Transfer Student <3

Kia Ehrke

U Mich '26

Middle Eastern Studies and History major at the University of Michigan - I love writing, spending time with my cat, and watching hockey!