When, midway through my freshman year, I made the decision to transfer colleges, my feelings were mixed. I was excited at the prospect of finally finding a school that fit what I wanted, but I was worried about what starting over at a brand-new school would really mean. Would I have trouble finding friends as a sophomore, and discover that everyone was already in cliques? Would I feel too rushed with all I had to do, struggling to fit four years of college into three? I knew transferring was the right choice for me, but I also was sure it would come with its own set of problems.
Yet to my total surprise, there's been nothing about transferring that's made me regret my decision even the slightest. Sure, there's been the occasional class I couldn't take because of a too-tight schedule, and yes, I don't know as many students here as my four-year peers might, but overall, switching schools couldn't have been a smoother process. In fact, transferring has actually been a blessing a disguise, in far more ways than I ever could've expected. Would it have been nice to have picked the right college right out of high school? Of course. But if I had, I would've missed these nine unexpected benefits of transferring schools.
1. You Get To Experience Two Different Kinds of Colleges
Unless you're going from one tiny liberal arts school to one slightly tinier liberal arts school, chances are your second college is substantially different than your first. For me, coming from the University of Maryland — home to 40,000 students, Greek life, and football — to Emerson College, a small communications school in Boston, was a huge change, and it definitely took some time getting used to. But once it did, I could appreciate having been in both types of college environments. I got to experience the frat and football version of college, but I also got to have the arts classes and city dwelling version of college. Very cool.
2. You Get To Have Two Groups Of Friends
Like any long-distance relationship, keeping in touch with your friends from from your first school takes work, and I'll admit I haven't been as good about it as I should've been. While I'm not as close with my Maryland friends as my Emerson ones, I still talk to them on occasion, and hope to see them at some point soon. Just because you've left school doesn't mean the friends you made there just disappear; keeping two sets of friends takes effort, but it's totally possible.
3. You Get To Have Two Cities/Schools To Care About
Unless you absolutely hate the school you transferred from, chances are that you're still going to feel some type of connection to it long after you leave. When I hear about frat issues or leadership problems at Maryland, I cringe as if I'm still a student; I may have left, but it was my school. But I also feel pride whenever good news comes out of College Park for the exact same reason.
4. You Know More About What You Want Out Of School
For any college student, freshman year is the time to explore all your opportunities, attempt to figure out what you want, and, probably, make plenty of mistakes. If you transfer, you've not only done all that, but you've actually achieved something a lot of your peers haven't: realized exactly what you wanted to get out of college, and done something about it. When you start at your new school, you won't be nearly as lost or confused as your classmates, because you'll likely already know what major you want and what path you're pursuing.
5. You Get To Master The Application Process
For some people, having to write more essays and search through brochures may be a pain, but if you're weird like me, getting to do the college search process all over again is basically the greatest thing ever. Researching schools, writing essays, comparing programs — it was all total fun for me, especially because this time, I knew exactly what I was doing. Even if it's not your thing, the experience will make you more of a pro at applications once you graduate and need to apply for jobs.
6. You Get To Take More Types Of Classes
Because of transferring, I've gotten to take everything from upper-level lit classes to lectures on philosophy to an entire course focused on the history of autism. Every school offers a different selection of courses, and having the year at Maryland allowed me to take interesting, important classes that Emerson doesn't offer.
7. You Get To Be Ahead Of All The Freshmen
When you start at a new school, you might feel like a freshman, having to deal with making friends, finding your way around, and suffering through orientation. There's a key difference, however: you're not a freshman. You've done it all before, and you're a pro at starting college. Sure, you might get lost around campus at first, but you'll also know what to expect from classes, how to write a paper, and what goes into being a good roommate.
8. You Don't Get The "Normal" College Experience
If you're bummed about not spending four years in the same college like your friends, don't be; there's a lot to be said from having a "normal" college experience, yes, but doing things the nontraditional route makes you appreciate being in school a whole lot more. When I started at Emerson, I didn't look at college like just some cool place to spend the next few years, like I did when I entered Maryland.
Instead, I viewed it as a starting point for my future, the place where I'd pursue my interests, hone my skills, and gain the tools I need for the rest of my life. I cared about school, in a way I simply couldn't if I'd gone there freshman year.
9. You Get To Be Totally Satisfied With School
Even people who stay at the same college all four years typically have some regrets, whether it was the major they chose, the friends they made, or the classes they didn't take. Not you, though, because as a transfer, you've thought very hard about what you want, and picked a school that fit everything on your list.
That doesn't mean you won't still have a few gripes here or there, of course, but by and large, your second college will be everything you wanted from a school. And, most importantly, you'll make sure to experience it to the fullest extent, not wanting to waste a second of your precious time there.