Sunday, September 13, 2015

Transferring Colleges: My Experience (and advice for those planning to transfer)

I don't even know where to begin with this post and it's probably going to be pretty disorganized and super lengthy and detailed. A ton of y'all have been asking me questions on why I decided to transfer colleges after my freshman year–– Why did you do it? How did you know it was the right thing to do? Do you regret doing it? 

Making the decision is not an easy one at all. It's a life changing decision that can benefit you tremendously, and then there are also transfer horror stories. I had a ton of reasons that I decided to transfer from GSCU to Rollins (I'll talk about Rollins later). From day one of freshman year, I knew I had to get out. Even earlier than day one (through freshman orientation), I kept telling myself that I made a huge mistake. I couldn't sleep the night before freshman orientation in the hotel room because I knew I had chosen the wrong college, but it was too late.

Disclaimer: I am about to be brutally honest about why I transferred and I don't mean to attack GCSU in any way at all. It was most definitely not the best place for me, but if you go there and love it, I'm super glad that you do! These are just my feelings about it so don't take it personally.

Why I Decided to Transfer

GCSU had a beautiful campus and that was what initially attracted me. At first glance, it was a bunch of cute brick buildings and white columns and big porches and the front lawn was so green and perfect looking. Milledgeville (the town that it was in) seemed cute as well, and during the tour, it seemed like there was going to be a lot to do there. That was 100% not the case. It seemed that way initially because when I toured it, there was a downtown festival going on, meaning that there were plenty of happy looking people dancing to music and looking like they had just won the lottery or something. Then on orientation day, it was a literal ghost town. Besides the freshman on campus, literally no one was in Milledgeville. It looked like everyone that lived there had evacuated due to a nuclear crisis or something. It was super freaky, and let me tell you–– even when school started up, the nuclear crisis continued. Beside the lack of normal citizens, the nearest Target was 30 minutes away in Macon, GA (which by the way was just named the worst city to live in America... and to think, I almost transferred to Mercer). My idea of a rowdy Friday night was doing laps around TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby for hours because those two stores were the only things that could bring me joy (and I avoid both of those stores now to this day). So the underpopulated boring town was reason #1 for me.

I tried to rush to make friends at Georgia College, meaning that I had to move there a week before school started. I made the mistake of living in the "on campus" apartments which were actually a 10 minute bus ride away from main campus, meaning I was completely isolated from all other human beings. If you plan on going to GCSU, just live in a normal dorm. You'll thank yourself later. Anyways, back to rush. It was not a good experience for me personally. I had nothing in common with any of the girls in my group. I tried to talk to them but it was just exhausting for me. Ultimately, I ended up accepting a bid from Kappa Delta. It's a great sorority and it kept me going later in the year when I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown, but it still didn't feel like home. I considered dropping the entire time. When I tried to talk to classmates during class, it just seemed off. Sometimes, I just slept through my classes because I dreaded going to them so much, and classes without attendance policies I barely went to. I only had one friend, Emily, and becoming friends with her was the only reason I appreciated my freshman year. We are still best friends to this day since we are both from Savannah, and she's practically my sister. Reason #2 (not counting Emily) was the fact that I could not connect with anyone else no matter how hard I tried.

Reason #3 was that the academics were not challenging enough for me at all. In high school, my college counselor glorified GCSU and made it seem like it was so difficult to get into. I have no idea why she did this because it has a 70% acceptance rate. People looked at me like I had two heads when I told them I took the ACT only once and got a 27 (which I thought was just an average score). Other students would point blank ask me why I was even attending GCSU with an ACT score that high. I was so disinterested in classes that I struggled to even study for them and I was totally unmotivated to even attend because I felt like I was not learning anything at all. My grades actually fell second semester because of this.

Reason #4 was how freshman year made me unstable. I went home almost every weekend first semester and every single weekend second semester. I am not an emotional person whatsoever (I have cried only once in the past two years), but freshman year I cried almost every time I had to head back to school after my weekend home. I counted down the seconds until I could leave on Friday and head back to Savannah. I was so bored that I actually created Yep, it's Prep because of my boredom (which is another positive thing about my bad year). Emily left after second semester and I sometimes went days without talking to anyone besides my mom on the phone. I stayed up until 4am for no reason and slept well past 2pm. Freshman year was taking a toll on me emotionally and physically.

The Process of Transferring Itself

Deciding where I wanted to go for sophomore year was not easy. I wanted GCSU to work so badly because I was so afraid that the same thing would happen to me again if I transferred. As nervous as I was to follow through with transferring, I took the leap. I applied to the University of Montana (my aunt lives in MT and it's beautiful), Mercer, and Rollins. I got accepted into all three immediately and it was time to choose. I eliminated UMT first because I didn't want to be freezing from October to April. I had visited one of my high school friends at Mercer, and although it seemed a lot better than GCSU, I did not really want to live in Macon and something still felt off. In April, I went to tour Rollins. As soon as I set foot on campus, everything felt so right. Even though it was a rainy day, all I felt was sunshine. I just knew it was going to be my new home. You know that Donald Glover quote I stuck at the beginning of this post? I saw a quote very similar to that while I was in the transfer process and it helped me pick Rollins. I was so scared to actually go, but I did it.

[quote via]


I instantly connected with people at Rollins. Everyone here goes out of their way to be friendly. I made friends easily, classes were more challenging and the professors were so much better, and the city of Winter Park is amazing. I'm in a much better place emotionally and I am so much more confident about myself. My grades have soared. All of those long nights researching about how to transfer and filling out applications were SO worth it. Starting over and taking the risk was SO worth it. I only go home now 3-4 times a year for holidays and I never get too bored. I get to go to the beach and pool on the weekends year round and there are always great concerts and shopping. People ask me all the time how I knew Rollins was right for me, but it's kind of unexplainable. I just knew it was from how I felt, and that feeling has not gone away.

My Advice

I learned so much about myself during freshman year. Even though I hated almost every moment of it, I wouldn't take it back because I ended up where I am today because of it. My advice to anyone considering transferring is to simply go with your gut feeling. If something feels off freshman year, then it's most likely off. It's okay to give your school some time, but if Thanksgiving is rolling around and it doesn't feel like the best situation for you, start researching other options! There is absolutely no shame in transferring from any school. I had a person in my Rollins transfer class transferring from Brown University, my roommate here transferred from UNC, and a handful of people came from community colleges. What matters the most is that you're ultimately happy in the end. It is okay to be scared of more change, but if you feel like it's going to benefit you, take the plunge. If it doesn't end up working out again, tell yourself that college is only a small 4 year chunk of your life that does not have to be perfect.

4 comments:

  1. This is full of such brilliant advice. I'm starting at UCLA on thursday as I'm doing an exchange year from London a lot of this has helped me even though our situations are different :)

    http://abigailalicex.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am considering transferring from a small, Catholic, liberal arts college in Rhode Island to a larger school in a city. I have this gut feeling that I should transfer, but I also have many reasons to stay. I have a great group of friends who want to get an on-campus apartment next year and I really enjoy my professors, but whenever I think of the next three years of college I feel empty. I don't feel excited to live in a suite next year (even though I love my friends and think they would be a blast to live with) and I feel very restrained. Even though my school is in Providence, it's in a neighborhood which is less than safe. I thought I wanted to go to my school because, aside from the academics, it's in a city and has a huge amount of school pride, but I'm finding so many things I don't like about my college. I feel like I should stay here because there are definitely some aspects of my school I really like, but I also have a gut feeling I should go to a school in Boston or some other larger city. I just feel really lost and honestly don't know what In should do.

    ReplyDelete