College is a time that is meant for discovering so many things. Discovering who we are, discovering new friends, discovering new experiences, and discovering what path we want to take for the rest of our lives. When wide eyed seniors are choosing their home for the next four years, they usually don’t plan on transferring. I know that I wasn’t planning on transferring, but when I found myself miserable at my first choice school, I realized that transferring was going to be my best option.

Transferring was nerve wracking to go through the process of applying to college again, finding new friends again, meeting new professors again, and registering for classes at a brand new school again. Despite that, transferring colleges was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself and I truly believe that my rocky start to college made me stronger. I learned five major things from this transfer that I want to share with everyone who might be considering the same path or current high school seniors.

Do not let your past determine your future.

After a bad college experience the first time around, I was terrified to start at a new school. At my first school, I had been failing classes, failing at making friends, and failing at getting involved in activities. It felt like every door I thought was an opportunity was closed in my face, and I was incredibly discouraged. Going into my first semester at my current school, Niagara University, I was terrified that I wasn’t ready for college and I was going to continue the failures of my previous school. Despite my fears, my first semester at my current school was one of my best semesters academically, I met tons of friendly and wonderful people, and I made meaningful connections with professors and peers alike. In subsequent semesters, I got involved in clubs at school like Turning Point USA, the College Republicans, and the Pre-Law Association, as well as several honor societies. Although I was worried, I allowed myself to have a fresh start and that attitude was the secret to my success.

This decision is yours.

In the months leading up to leaving for my original college, I had an incredibly bad feeling about the experience. I felt like I wasn’t making the right choice, but I pushed those feelings aside because I was convinced by those around me that this was an opportunity I needed to take. When I got there, I knew that it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I realized that although this school may have been the right choice for a lot of other people, it just wasn’t the right choice for me. I’ve even recommended my original school for other people; it truly is a great school, but it wasn’t my school. It’s so important when choosing a college that you choose the school for yourself, not anyone else.

Do not burn your past bridges.

It is so tempting when you graduate high school to immediately turn around and break all contact with your high school teachers and guidance counselors. That is a mistake. When I wasn’t happy at my original school, one of the first people I told, other than close friends and family, was my high school guidance counselor. She was able to help me determine whether I needed to relax and give myself more time or whether transferring truly was the best option. Once I did decide to transfer, she also helped me decide which schools were the best fit for me, and whether I needed to apply to any schools I hadn’t originally applied to. She gathered my updated transcripts with speed and helped to make sure I got the scholarship money I needed. Staying in contact with her throughout my early college experience helped make my transition much smoother. 

Not everyone has the same college experience, and that’s ok.

Some people are going to immediately love their original college. Others are going to hate it and then fall in love with it. Some people are going to transfer once, twice, or even three times. People’s majors change, their minors change, and their classes change every semester. Some people have great first semesters while others improve their grades with time. During your first few semesters in college, you might feel like you’re on the wrong track. I know that when I decided to transfer, I felt like I was completely behind all of my friends and could sense that I was on the wrong path. Now, I’m just a month away from my bachelor’s degree (a semester early) and planning on going to law school. I ended up where I was supposed to be and in the direction I was meant to be. It just took a little time. Don’t be afraid if your path looks different than everyone else’s.

Bad times make us stronger.

Having to transfer colleges was rough. I had to take the Freshman Beginnings class with seven other transfers during second semester instead of a giant freshman section. It was tricky to figure out what clubs were at my new school. I was the very last person to register for classes again. Despite all the struggles, I don’t regret any of my choices. Because I had a rough start to college, I know that I am stronger. I have more clarity about what college means and what an amazing opportunity I have in front of me. I learned about how to handle crisis as well as all the resources around me that are there to help me to succeed. While I was going through my transfer, I just wished that I could have a completely smooth college experience. Now that I’ve gotten through it, I’m happy that my experience taught me so many lessons. Although we live for the good times in life, it’s the bad times that make us who we are.

Cat B
FFL Contributor