I Was Forced To Transfer High Schools, And It Was One Of The Best Things To Happen To Me

I Was Forced To Transfer High Schools, And It Was One Of The Best Things To Happen To Me

I have two alma maters, and I couldn't be more proud.
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At the start of sophomore year, I was in a good place, having found a home at my high school, Good Counsel Academy and a great circle of friends. All of this changed when it was announced that my school may be closing. While the details are too confusing and frustrating to explain, in essence, the property my high school was on was being sold by the Sisters who owned it. There were multiple attempts to save GCA, including protests and a parents group, but none were successful.

On February 12th, 2015, we were called from class into our chapel, and our principal made the news official.

Because of this, everyone had to find a school to transfer to. Some applied to other Catholic schools, others chose public school. For me, this decision was extremely difficult. I was stuck between two schools, one in the city, and one more local. The days leading up to my decision were some of the most stressful I can remember. Being the perfectionist I am, I wanted to make sure I was making the right choice. Eventually, I just decided and stayed hopeful.

Those last few months at GCA were bittersweet. My friend group would be split up next year, so we became closer than ever, making our final memories at the school we loved so dearly. The teachers and administration were incredible, planning a surprise field day (pictured) and having a “graduation” on the last day of classes.

Summer came and went, and soon I found myself preparing for my new school, Ursuline. I was lucky enough to have two of my best friends, along with some other girls, coming with me. Leading up to the first day of school, I remained positive. Still, the first few weeks hit hard. Reality didn’t hit me until I was at Ursuline, walking through the halls and barely recognizing anyone. When I did recognize someone from GCA, seeing them felt out of place.

I missed the familiarity of Good Counsel, the open campus, the little things like the church bells and smell of the convent, and most importantly, the community there.

I’d like to say I felt completely comfortable at Ursuline within the first few months, but I would be lying if I did. There were certainly good days, and bad ones. It was emotionally draining to go to school every day and try to keep a happy face on. It was frustrating to go through the process of making friends all over again. Isn’t that what I had just spent the last two years doing? I felt labeled as “transfer” or “GCA girl”.

Of course, I was proud to say I was from GCA, but I didn’t want that to be how I was defined at Ursuline.

Though the transition was difficult, I am grateful I had such an amazing support system: my family, my two best friends that had come with me, friends from GCA and other parts of my life- all of them were instrumental in helping me feel a sense of security in this new environment.

Slowly but surely, things began to change. Two specific instances I remember were key to coming out a bigger and happier person. First, my choir’s trip to Disney is when I finally felt like I settled myself into a group of friends. The memories and connections I made on that trip are ones I know I’ll keep for a lifetime.

Second, the bonfire at my senior retreat gave me such a powerful sense of community, so strong I felt comfortable sharing one of my favorite quotes with my entire class:

“I may not have gone where I intended, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be”.

This quote still rings true. Once I began to embrace where life had brought me, instead of resisting it, I found myself making a new home for myself at Ursuline. I look back on my two years at Ursuline with just as many smiles as my two years at GCA.

I think initially, I had such a hard time because I was unwilling to let go of Good Counsel. I felt unwilling to move on because I thought that by embracing Ursuline, I was somehow not being loyal to GCA. Once I realized that wasn’t the case, that it wasn’t me betraying GCA, it was me using the gifts I had learned there in my new environment, things shifted.

I realized that it wasn’t a contradiction to call both places my home, because home is a state of being in oneself, a feeling, not necessarily where we are.

Transferring into a new school taught me the power of dealing with discomfort, and how much stronger overcoming that discomfort can make you. It taught me that you don’t have to see your best friends every day for them to remain central in your life. It taught me how to make the best of every situation.

All throughout the transition, my mom would say “this is just preparing you for college.” And she was right. Since being at college, on bad days, I stay hopeful because I know at Ursuline, things turned out more than okay in the end. Having gone through that life experience has given me that key insight.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if GCA hadn’t closed. What would my life be like without my Ursuline friends? Would I have ended up at Villanova? When I think about this, I realize I truly would not wish to have had it any other way. Going to two different high schools means two different sets of memories, groups of friends, communities, and traditions. I can't imagine my life without these two contrasting experiences, nor do I want to.

Everything happens for a reason, and though it was heartbreaking and difficult at the time, the closing of GCA was simply the opening of other doors in other places.

I feel so grateful to have had attended both GCA and Ursuline. GCA provided the roots for me to grow and emerge even more at Ursuline. I will always be a “confident woman, compassionate leader” like GCA taught me, and will always be proud to say "Ac Fui", because I really was there at Ursuline, too.

Both of these places are such a big part of who I am, and I can only hope I will continue to use what I learned at both GCA and Ursuline in my new journey at Nova.

Talk soon,

Sam

Cover Image Credit: Samantha DeCarlo
Cover Image Credit: Samantha DeCarlo

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To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.

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As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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I Wish My Big Ten School Was Known For Education, Not Football

College football is great, but education is the reason that most students choose their university.

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College football is a big deal to lots of universities. At schools like Ohio State, it is a really big deal. Although I personally don't care about football, I think that it is a great way to build a sense of community and camaraderie among students. It is fun, gives many schools a worldwide presence, and allows us students to have a sense of overwhelming pride in our school.

I just don't want that pride to outweigh the pride in the education itself. Unless you're a football player, you go to college primarily to learn and build your future. Football is fun, but sometimes I wish that society associates my school with an education rather than a single sport.

I cannot count the number of times that I told people that I go to OSU, and they responded by saying something along the lines of "Oh no, I'm a Michigan fan!" If they're referring to how The University of Michigan has some academic programs that are usually ranked higher than those at Ohio State, then I wouldn't blame them. Heck, it is ignorant not to acknowledge the truth in that-- if Michigan hadn't cost a thousand times more than what I'm paying now, I honestly might have chosen to be a student there.

Back to the point, though. I'm proud to go to OSU. At this time in life, I wouldn't want to be going anywhere else. Attending a school known for football was ultimately my decision, but that factor itself wasn't the reason. Admittedly, since I started college, I came to realize that all students aren't as football-crazy as I anticipated. One game day when I was studying in the library, a handful of guys came in yelling "OH" and expecting an "IO" back. They were met with silence until someone studying a few floors above them shouted back "F*** off!"

That story always reminds me that big schools like Ohio State really are for everyone. OSU excels in its education and wide variety of extracurricular opportunities. I don't love my school because of football-- I love my school because of the challenging academics, amazing faculty, and strong community. I think that it is time for the general public to see it that way too.

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