To Transfer or Not to Transfer: That is the Question!
Remember your senior year of high school? Touring colleges, trying not to get your hopes up. Retaking the SAT for the tenth time, wondering if you’d get a better score with the ACT. The love/hate relationship with collegeboard.com, and endless trips to the college counselor.
Then, THE WAIT. And running to the mail box every day. Staring at your application status page – pressing F5 over and over (refresh, refresh, refresh!). Until, one day that magical word appears: admitted.
Fast forward to September.
The move-in is over (your mom only broke down once, thank goodness). The awkward, “Hi, I’m going to be living in close quarters!” moment is over with your roomie(s) and classes have begun.
And an unsettling feeling set in. This place isn’t what you thought it would be. You try to love it – really you do – but it isn’t the right fit and you can’t seem to get into a groove. You know you could transfer but *argh!* you thought you were set! That the application insanity was done for good! What do you do?
This was my story.
I, an LA girl, decided I wanted to experience life outside of tinsel town and get down to my German/ Norwegian roots. Yes. I moved to Wisconsin!
UW-Madison was far too expensive, so I applied to a small private college nearby. It seemed perfect— a cute little campus, single dorms available to freshmen girls (walk-in closets!) and they were offering me a 50% scholarship on academic merits. Plus they had a consortium with UW-Madison. I was totally psyched—the best of both worlds!
Then it was September and suddenly my perfect little plan began to have some SERIOUS flaws:
1. Everyone was from a small town in WI, which was cool, but as a Californian I was a minor celebrity, which got stale super fast. I just couldn’t fit in.
2. I couldn’t have a car on campus and a trip via bus to the nearest shopping area took nearly an hour in transit time—and that’s once I made the bus. It came every 30 min or so. As it got chilly this became a major issue.
3. Similarly, the bad bus situation made taking courses at UW-Madison totally ridiculous. (Bye-bye consortium)
4. There was one prof for my major. ONE. Silly me, I assumed that if you were going to offer a major you’d actually have profs on hand. One prof doesn’t a major make (especially because he was HORRIBLE!!!).
The list goes on and on and on.
Suffice it to say that by the end of September I had decided to move on. I think that if it had only been the social thing I might have stuck it out. But the academic flaws tipped the scale. (Did I mention my French professor mainly spoke in English and would accuse me of “throwing a flying saucer into her lecture” if I dared ask a question?)
I knew that I wanted to go to a good grad school and I began to realize that staying at this school would be the best way to drastically decrease my chances.
I’m not going to lie—the transfer process was incredibly stressful. Getting letters of rec sucks when you’ve only been at the school for a few months. “Hi professor, ummm your school sucks so I’m trying to transfer to a better one.” Or even better: “Hi former high school teacher, I made a horrible choice in colleges and I need you to write ANOTHER letter of rec for me.” Even more, I knew that to transfer into a competitive program from my dinky college I’d need great grades.
Oh, and remember THE WAIT? Well it’s longer for transfer students—I didn’t hear definitively from my top choice until the middle of May.
But it was SO worth it. I transferred to GW in Washington D.C. and I looooove it. I actually had to study at GW (Ok, yes I’m a total nerd but this made me really happy) and my fellow students were similarly motivated. And, best of all there were lots and lots of profs for my department!
Transferring is not for the weak of heart. But if you know you can do better, whether it be academically, athletically, socially, etc. then you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.
Incidentally, I’m writing this during my insane apartment hunting in NYC—because I’m going to grad school at NYU. There’s a very slim chance I would be here had I not taken the plunge.