Let's Talk About Transferring

Transferring can be an extremely positive experience when you know it’s the right decision for you. In the college world, there seems to be a lot of speculation that surrounds transferring colleges, even if you’ve never done it or thought about it. From the outside looking in, it seems like a confusing, rash decision to make and sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. From my transfer experience, I found that there's no cookie-cutter formula, but that there's still a method to the madness, which I broke down into three aspects: the why, the how and the when.

The Why: Thinking about Transferring

My freshman year of college I came in fresh-faced, more than ecstatic to begin my four-year journey at Syracuse University. I came in on a partial scholarship and was ready for this new adventure to begin, dreaming of all the memories I’d make and things I’d accomplish at Syracuse. I was in a very romantic state of mind whenever I thought about my college experience drawing closer and that was perfectly fine with me. The summer of 2016 I moved into my dorm with the best roommate a girl could ask for to begin the college experience with. Time flew by and so many memories were made, but before I knew it October came and I had been sick for the past few weeks as a snowy winter in Syracuse took root. I was happy in many aspects and was doing extremely well academically, but also felt miserable at the same time as I felt the heat of financial burden, my poor state of physical health and the dreary, frozen winter beat down on my mental health. Syracuse was a new world for me and it came with its challenges, especially since I felt a bit far away from home - Virginia. Overcoming those challenges wasn’t the problem, it was more about realizing all the positives of Syracuse, but that it still wasn’t the right school and environment for me.

I loved Syracuse to the deepest extent, but I wanted to thrive, not just exist. I’m a city girl at heart and a traditional campus in an industrial city that wasn’t directly walkable, made me feel enclosed. I began to look at schools in Virginia that I thought about potentially transferring to that had certain characteristics I was looking for. These were characteristics I didn’t realize I wanted or needed in my college experience prior to the college decision process.

The How: Deciding to Transfer

Deciding where you want to transfer isn’t an easy decision, but I found it to be much clearer than the initial college application process we all go through our senior year of high school. For me, it was much more clear what I wanted out of my college experience and the areas that were lacking for me in my current situation. One, I knew I wanted city life and the hustle and bustle of a campus integrated into a city. I wanted access to more of the things that make me happy in life, such as amazing restaurants, beautiful museums and natural attractions. I needed less difficulty in terms of travel time to and from university and lastly, I needed the school I was transferring to, to be less of a financial burden. All in all, it’s important to do your research. Syracuse was full of opportunity and had amazing access to academic resources, but that still came at a price as it is a private university and runs a cost above 60 thousand dollars. On top of that, I wanted to be able to afford to go to graduate school, also having major travel, health and personal expenses that had to be dealt with too. As I was doing my transfer research, I knew I had to attend school in-state (Virginia) since it’s a bit cheaper, along with the fact that I needed to earn scholarships because I wanted to avoid debt at all costs. Another important aspect to consider is to look at programs that schools offer that may differ from your current school, looking at what most interests you and where you can see yourself fitting into their programs. I was looking to continue to be academically challenged, but in a more diverse environment and in where I could get more real-life experience on a day to day basis. I wanted a hands-on education and I saw that at VCU. As I leaned towards VCU during my research, I decided it fit all my criteria and I was ready to make the jump, even though that meant leaving what was familiar behind along with all the wonderful friends and memories I made during my time there.

The When: Being a Transfer Student

Leaving Syracuse was so hard and bittersweet. I look back and cherish all the memories I made and realize how short-lived it was, but I know the decision was right for me. It’s what I needed. Change is scary and takes a leap of faith, but more importantly, it’s extremely exciting and quite frankly, invigorating. If you decided to transfer in the first place, that most likely means you needed a change. At first, the transition may seem a little bit difficult. Everybody seems to already have their friend groups, are part of organizations and so on, but it all comes down to what you want to make of your experience. With a little bit of effort and putting yourself out there, you’ll see all the benefits and different experiences only transfers go through. It took me a minute, but I have made my best friends for life at VCU, but also have my best friends that are still at Syracuse (shout out - love you guys). I’m happy at VCU, I’m satisfied with where I’m at personally and academically, and I know it’s only up from here. If you take anything away from reading this article, I want it to be if you’re thinking about transferring make the decision for you and only you because you’re the one who’s going to go through the process, experience the ups and downs and reap the benefits of what your college experience has to offer.

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