We all hope that we’ll get our college decision right on the first try. Obviously, that’s the ideal way to do it. Spending months agonizing over applications, personal essays, waiting for those big envelopes in the mail, and looking over every college review site out there – you don’t want to have to do that again. Transferring schools usually isn’t in your four-year plan as you prepare for your university adventure as a freshman – but it can happen, and usually when it’s the farthest idea from your mind.
There are a number of reasons this can happen. Perhaps you weren’t thorough enough on your campus visit – or perhaps you didn’t make a visit at all. Maybe you didn’t do enough research on the availability of academic opportunities you desire or the kind of town atmosphere you want. Realizing halfway through your freshman year that you are not getting the kind of experience you need is never a fun feeling, but it’s better to recognize and admit it at that point rather than staying in denial and getting cheated out of the college experience you deserve.
Also, sometimes circumstances out of your control can come into play and drive you to transferring. It’s very possible that you did do all the necessary prep-work to make an informed decision about the college you would attend, but you ended up not being comfortable with any of your peers. Different schools do attract different people and sometimes you just may not find yourself fitting in as well as you would have hoped. And that doesn’t always mean you’re not trying hard enough or not utilizing enough of the readily available social opportunities – unfortunately, sometimes things just don’t work out. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, social aspects are a very important part of college, and how can you be happy living on your own if you do not have some sort of support system physically there by your side? A particular environment may not be right for you specifically and if you accept that and believe you are not at fault, then you will be on a healthy track to make the infamous transfer.
Now, this all leads up to why transferring can be good. It’s very refreshing and comforting to know you have a second chance at the awesome college experience you’ve dreamed of. You can start all over, meet new people, live in a new place, try new things. Plus, now that you have some of the college experience under your belt, you aren’t a totally blind freshman who is completely unaware of how things work. You will have some good background about college life to make sure you do it right this time.
However, you cannot be naïve and think acclimating to a new college in your second or third year will be as easy as going to a new college as a freshman was. Universities make the first few weeks of school a social haven for freshmen, creating orientations and events that are specifically catered to that incoming class. This time, you are not a part of that brand new group – you are just a brand new individual, alone. Granted, many students transfer to schools where they already know someone, and that certainly makes the transition a lot smoother. But if you are going into this without knowing a soul, be prepared to work a little harder at breaking into the social scene and learning about the environment around you.
It’s so easy to get scared by this prospect and just decide to tolerate your original school. But think of it this way – is it better to be miserable at a school you’re safely familiar with or to nervously put forth some extra effort to get to know a new one? You deserve another chance. You deserve the best college experience you can have. Maybe transferring will make you a little uncomfortable initially, but that won’t last forever – whereas staying at the first school that you hated, might. Which path will leave you happiest at graduation? That’s the path you want to go on, the path that will end with no regrets.