Hey there! So I’ve mentioned briefly here that I am transferring from my school at Emerson College in Boston to either the University of Washington in Seattle or CU Boulder (I’m making my decision in June). As natural as a transition it may seem to people looking in at me, I can assure you it hasn’t been all butterflies and unicorns. It’s been hard, stressful work, and I’ve found that a lot of my friends and/or acquaintances have met me with some resentment, frustration, or confusion while adults have tried to convince me that I’m making the wrong decision. Luckily, the ones who have been most supportive have been my parents and I am definitely very grateful for that.
But I know that my process could have definitely been smoother, and that’s why I’ve put together a short list of tips and tricks for those students who might be thinking of transferring, or are already in the process of it. I’m including some long-distance specific items because I happen to be experiencing that sort of change, and I feel like it’s something people do not address often.
1.) Keep Your List of Possible Schools Narrow
This transferring process is all about you: even more so than it was your senior year of high school. By now, you’re either nearing the end of your freshman or sophomore year, and you’ve learned more about your likes and dislikes. You don’t want this transfer experience to be as stressful as senior year. And I promise you it won’t be! Now that you know more about yourself, it’s going to be easy to pick just two to three schools to apply to. Similar to senior year, you will want a safety, a top choice, and either another top choice or a reach. For me, I applied to CU Denver, CU Boulder, and the University of Washington. Both Boulder and Washington were my two top choices. By doing this, I minimized application costs, and was able to focus more on my essays, which still count while you’re transferring. Your bank account and your sanity will thank you for this later.
2.) Know Your Program
Are you going to want to switch programs, or are you going to stay along a similar track? Either way, contact students in your chosen department and ask them questions about it. This should be pretty standard, as you’ve probably already gone through the process of choosing your program before. But do not skip this! It’s very important that you know as much as you can about the program. It also helps you field the questions family members are sure to throw at you about why you’re transferring.
3.) Plan in Advance… And Make It Fun
I’ve been telling people for a couple of weeks now that the best decision I’ve made is to road trip to my next school. Of course I’m working in Montana for three months this summer so there will be a significantly long pit stop along the way, but road tripping has made the process much more fun and exciting. But plan ahead! Save up and make reservations for campgrounds or motels in advance, save up money, and keep family and friends in the loop. What has helped me a lot on this road trip has been the hospitality of friends along the way. I am writing this while sitting at the kitchen table of friends of mine in Houston, TX. This will likely be one of your first solo road trips if you’re transferring, so having friends and staging points along the way will be helpful and also comforting! It’s also a great way to catch up with family that you haven’t seen in years. It’s a big life change, why not reconnect with long lost friends and family? Just give everyone you’re planning to visit about two weeks notice that you’ll be coming through.
4.) Consider Whether You Want to Bring Your Car
I’m moving to the West coast from the East during this transfer, and I know that there are lots of things that I am going to want to see in the West. Both Washington and Boulder have outdoorsy student populations, so I know I will be hiking and climbing a lot, and to be able to do that, I will need a car. Are you going to be in a city? Then leave the car at home, because finding an apartment with a parking space will be difficult, and paying for parking is going to be ridiculously expensive. Are you going to be at a larger campus with activities that are far away? Consider bringing your car, as it will bring you higher levels of confidence and independence. For me personally it feels good to do what I want, when I want. But be careful! Everyone who doesn’t have a car will then want to be your best friend, so choose who you give rides to wisely.
5.) Consider Travel Costs After You Move
This can tie in to the fourth item above. If you are transferring a long distance, you might not be able to fly or drive home whenever you want to. You’re going to need to find places to stay during breaks, and choose economical times to visit home when you do decide to go back. That’s why I heavily recommend to anyone doing this long distance switch to bring a car. Driving a few hours to a friend or family member who can house you for a week is going to be cheaper and easier than flying home.
Bonus Tip: Are you going to want to visit your family often? Then save up. As much as your family tells you it’s fine and to come visit whenever you want, you won’t be racking up those frequent flier miles fast enough to make a difference to your family’s check book. Mom and Dad might even tell you that you have to pay for your next flight. Believe me, it’s happened.
In Conclusion: Transferring is so incredibly exciting! Especially if you are transferring a long distance away from home, this gives you a chance to enter your sophomore or junior year with a clean slate and a new starting block. I see this opportunity for me as one where I can finally grow up and become an adult. Where I transfer might be where I end up living for the few years after graduation.
Transferring is full of possibilities, the only thing required is that you plan accordingly to maximize your opportunities. Don’t be nervous, this is going to be a blast.