Dear Transfers, You Are Not Alone

It’s senior year of high school, and the college application process consumes your every second. Your time is either spent working on application essays, filling out the Common App, or frantically checking your email to see if you’ve received a decision. Every conversation at school contains talk of college; even when you aren’t involved, you can hear it surrounding you as you walk the halls. Everyone wants to know where you’re applying, which schools you’re touring, where you’ve gotten in… until finally, you make a decision. And for awhile, you feel an overwhelming relief because you are done. Done with applications, done with the anticipation of hearing back, done with all of it. And all you can seem to think to yourself is: I hope I made the right choice. Flash forward a few months and you’re in college. You go through the motions of orientation, awkwardly making friends, finding fun things to do, and getting adjusted to your classes. Soon, it all seems to blend together into a blur of business, but you slowly find yourself feeling lost. Your high school friends flaunt how much fun they’re having on social media. They tell you how interesting their classes are, and how happy they are with the decision they made. You start to realize that you identify with none of this, and can’t relate to these feelings of joy and content. But why? I’m in college… This is supposed to be fun, right? And then it hits you: I think I may have made the wrong choice.

No college student wants to transfer. Transferring means going through the application process, the friend-making process, and the overall adjustment process all over again. All of the stress that came along with these things the first time around will be back, and nothing about it will be easy.

I’ve been in your position, and I know all of this to be true. However, I’m not here to tell you that transferring is easy. I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely worth it.

My freshman year of college, I was a student at Suffolk University. Upon moving in and starting school, I quickly realized that I was in the wrong place. I didn’t feel connected to many people there; I couldn’t seem to find anyone quite like myself. I didn’t enjoy my classes or like my professors, and the social scene did not appeal to me either. When the thought of transferring first entered my mind, I quickly shook it away. I thought to myself, “Things will get better. Transferring is such an extensive process, and I don’t want to deal with that.” So I lived a few more months in denial, and nothing changed. I still felt the same way about the school, and I knew that if I stayed there, I would never be truly happy.

I decided to apply to Emerson, and it was the best decision I have ever made. There are a few reasons why many people shy away from transferring schools, and they are all completely valid. However, in the process of transferring and adjusting to a new school, I’ve learned that many of these negatives are not as prevalent as some believe.

Firstly, many people think that transfer students can’t truly become involved in their new school’s community. A lot of this comes from the fact that many transfers are forced to live off-campus as a result of limited availability in the on-campus dorms. This may require you to put more effort towards getting involved, but if you do, it is certainly achievable. Less than a month into the school year, I am involved with three different on-campus publications and have written various articles for all of them. I feel extremely connected to the Emerson community, regardless of the fact that my walk home is fifteen minutes rather than a ride on the elevator. I easily spend more time on campus than I do at my apartment, whether it be in classes, in the library, or participating in clubs.

Often, another reason why people are afraid of transferring is because they think they won’t be able to make new friends at a new school. This fear is completely understandable. After missing a year or two, it is easy to be nervous about jumping in and trying to feel the same unity that other students feel. I found orientation to be extremely helpful with this. I met people throughout these few days that have become my closest friends. If you put yourself out there and come to terms with the fact that everyone is in the same boat as you, you will quickly meet some incredible people.

Meredith Nestor, a sophomore visual and media arts major at Emerson, also transferred to Emerson this year from Suffolk University. She says that putting yourself out there is the best way to adjust to a new school. “It's extremely important to push yourself to become involved in whatever you want, and remember that everything's going to take time to evolve and develop,” she said. “Most importantly, try not to get ahead of yourself or down on yourself for not seeing immediate results. Pacing yourself and saying yes to new experiences is what it's all about.”

Lauren Walsh, a sophomore studying visual and media arts, is a transfer student as well. She switched to Emerson this year from a small liberal arts school in New York City, and strongly advises that other transfer students get involved in clubs on campus. “I signed up for everything that I possibly could,” she said. Although she considers herself the farthest thing from a typical “sorority girl,” Lauren decided to rush and is happy that she stepped outside of her comfort zone. “It's nice to have a group of girls with the same values there to support you and always have your back.”

If you don’t feel 100 percent happy where you are, transferring is definitely something to consider. When I picture myself continuing my education at Suffolk, I see a very unhappy person. In just a few short weeks, Emerson has allowed me to push myself, create things I am proud of, and make some amazing friends. Nobody should dread returning to school after breaks at home, feeling uncomfortable in their group of friends, or feeling that their education is not challenging or benefiting them in every way. Transferring certainly isn’t easy, but your happiness is worth it.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

LivingNicole Cooper