What It’s Like To Transfer From A Small To Large College

5 Things That You're Bound To Have To Adjust To If You Transfer From A Small To A Large College

If you're thinking about making the jump, here's what to expect.


Last fall, I transferred from a tiny school in the rural mountains of Virginia to UNC-Chapel Hill. UNC was the country's first public university, is a leading school in academics and research, and has one of the country's best basketball teams. To say that it was a culture shock is an understatement. For all you transfer students who can relate to me, or for those who are thinking of transferring, here is a list of things that transfers have to adjust to while making the jump from a small college to a large college.

1. The dining hall


My old school has one library and one dining hall. While visiting friends at other schools, I became jealous of their many food options. When they would express their distaste for on-campus food, I would say, "try going to my school!" Part of me misses my small school because dining halls and libraries were rarely crowded. But to have 15 different libraries to choose from and endless food options — the crowds are worth it.

P.S. You will probably still get sick of the dining hall food, a common issue among most schools.

2. The classes


The lecture halls are a big adjustment. When you're used to classes with a max size of 30 students, lectures can be quite intimidating. It's also much harder to get individual attention from professors unless you go out of your way to do so. However, there are so many opportunities for tutoring and extra help, so don't be afraid to take advantage of that.

3. The people


I totally get that there are pros and cons to knowing everyone on campus, however, I do not miss it. Neither do I miss gossip spreading like wildfire as if I were still in high school. If I'm having a rough day and look like I just rolled out of bed (which I probably did), it's nice that I can walk across campus and not see a single soul that I know!

It's easy to feel lost because of this, though. Make sure to meet people and try different clubs to find your smaller community within the large school. (I'm still working on this! It's no easy feat.)

4. The happenings


There are so many things going on all the time. At my old school, there would be maybe one or two things to do at a time, which the whole school would attend. At UNC, I am overwhelmed with the number of events going on and things to get involved with. It seems like everyone around me does so much and I feel the need to do the same. I've developed a good work ethic because of this, but also a bad case of FOMO — if I'm not doing anything, I feel lazy and left out!

Large schools can feel competitive because you see so many people around you excelling. Remember — you've earned your spot into the school just as much as everyone else!

5. The perspective


Coming from a small school, I am able to appreciate the abundance of resources that are available to me now. I appreciate the accommodations for all kinds of students and the diversity of the student body. I will always contain that small school spirit, but I wouldn't trade being able to stand in the student section of our basketball stadium and root for our team in March Madness.

If you're planning on transferring (or already have), then good luck!

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