Applying to college when I was 17 years old was stressful and anxiety-inducing enough, but to apply for college a second time when I was 19, almost 20, was even more stressful.
From August 2015 to December 2017, I attended a university that was never for me. It took me four semesters to come to this conclusion. I spent months debating if I was going to actually transfer. When I finally did receive an acceptance letter, I was nervous. I had a big decision to make. To stay in a comfortable, familiar, but ultimately under-stimulating and bleak environment, or to venture out and start a new chapter of my life. I never thought I could do so. I never thought I would be sitting in my apartment on campus today, but I made the choice to uproot myself completely, and finally take my education into my own hands.
I always knew what I wanted to study. Applying to college at the age of 17, I checked the box for my major and planned on studying anthropology, specifically archaeological anthropology. However, my previous college was never the place for that. I knew I needed a college that could help me support my dreams rather than hinder them. It was time for me to look elsewhere. But, starting over as a 20-year-old, second-semester junior student was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Making the decision to come to a new university, to completely uproot myself, Up until this semester, I was very comfortable. I had a good job, good friends, good classes (sort of), and a comprehensive sociocultural anthropological education. I was comfortable, but I wasn’t happy.
Fast forward to 2018, I'm currently enrolled at the number one public university in New York, Binghamton University. The only problem is, I know virtually 8 people on campus out of 16,000+ people. Although I've only been here for about four weeks now, I've met some incredible people, attended some amazing programs and joined some awesome clubs. Transferring can be very unnerving, but If you put yourself out there and follow some of these tips ranging from when you first apply to when you start your first semester, you will find your place in no time.
To get the most out of your experience as a transfer student, follow these steps I developed for myself. I'm sure they'll help you too!
Do as much research as you can before applying to each school.
I applied to two other SUNY schools before applying to Binghamton. It is okay to branch out, what's important is finding your niche and the best place for your program (if you have one).
Visit each college you're interested in, more than once if you can.
I personally visited Binghamton twice. Once on a Transfer Student day last April of 2017, and again on a University Open House in October of 2017. These visits are crucial. You need a school that feels like home for you. My visits to Binghamton are what made me really decide to transfer. I toured my future housing community, met some incredible people who I'm still friends with, and learned about all of the amazing opportunities for transfer students.
If you're waiting for a decision letter, call the admissions office as much as you can.
Ask them every question you can think of, no matter how small.
Ask everyone questions.
It seems a little tedious, but really. Ask as MANY as you can think of. Ask about housing, financial aid, your program, the food, the sports, Greek Life, etc. I promise, there will always be someone there who wants to answer your questions.
If you go to a big university, find their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.
Find their Facebook group. For example, I found the Binghamton University Facebook Group before I got accepted into the university. Now I'm a member of the BU Class of 2020 FaceBook group. Take a look at what people post, even if their posts are irrelevant to you. Normally when school starts, people start posting events and other interesting things. You could find people who are looking for roommates, new friends and more
If you can afford it, MAKE ON CAMPUS HOUSING A PRIORITY.
Living off campus as a first-semester transfer student is not a good idea. You will want to feel part of a community. You can't do that if you don't live on campus. Once you do pick where you're going to live if you get the chance to, familiarize yourself with that community, how far it is from your classes, the dining halls and especially your new roommates.
When you're on campus, finally, explore as much as you can.
Even if it's cold and you'll get lost, familiarize yourself with your new campus. Get lost, find the good places to eat, little study nooks, your department, and much more. You'll be glad you did it.
The hardest thing will be to put yourself out there to meet new people.
I'm not gonna lie, it's really awkward making new friends at a new school. As an 'introverted extrovert', I personally had a hard time finding my people. But you will. It will take time. I've only been here for about a month and I've met some amazing people, but I'm still meeting new friends.
Go to as many events as you can, club meetings, and even sports events.
You'll be glad you did. Don't spread yourself too thin, but do as much as you feel comfortable with. It's important to meet people, but it's important to be comfortable as well. I've met some wonderful people at club meetings and even bonded with them over the love we share over some specific subjects like anthropology or learning Spanish.
Lastly, give yourself time to grow.
Switching schools is hard enough. You don't need to beat yourself up every time you don't go out, don't do productive things or sleep past your alarm. You are here to learn, grow as a person, and build a future.
This will come. Be kind to yourself, self-care is the most important part of all of this. I promise you'll find your place.