And if you find yourself at a school that just is not working out for you, you can totally transfer! People talk like this is impossible, but it is so not. It’s not impossible, even though people make it out to be. The transfer process, however, is tiring, since you’re essentially applying to college all over again and will need to compile recommendations, transcripts, write essays, and more—but it’s worth it if you know you’re in the wrong place.
How do you determine that? If you’ve just started your freshman year and you feel out of place, wait a while. Everybody feels displaced at first, but most people shake it off during that first year. Think about exactly why you want to transfer. Here’s Dylan:
I have so many friends who had a rough time their first semester and ended up really loving their school the following years. If you’re unhappy, how do you know whether to wait it out and hope for the best, or to take action and transfer? How I decided was by asking myself some questions: Does this environment support the kind of grown-up I want to become? Does the career I’m studying for at this school match what I have in mind for my dream life? Have I tried to get involved and connect with other students through clubs, classes, and social outings, as much as I can? In other words, have I really tried here, or did I just dismiss it too quickly because my parents made me go here/it’s my safety choice/it’s not what I had in mind/life is hard? I felt like I tried very hard at my first school to relate to my fellow students socially (no luck), and tried to see myself graduating from there happy about my choice (nope). That’s how I decided to leave. It was that relentless pit in my stomach that was my intuition telling me, plus these questions guiding me. It’s a really hard decision to make, and it really takes a lot of work—if that’s worth it to you, talk one-on-one with the admissions counselors at your desired school and see what it will take to make it happen.
Once you get to your new school, says Dylan, “Socially, you’ll be starting over. It was, of course, pretty lonely and very quiet my first semester at my transfer school. But in some ways, I loved being the new girl amongst seasoned, second-semester freshmen. People will be like, ‘Dang, who’s she?’ and holler at you for your company. Soak it up, it only lasts a few weeks.”
What should I even major in?
So, you’ve made it to college. Congrats! But, wait, what are you even studying here? Some schools require you to apply to a specific, specialized school within your college before you’re even accepted, but most students enter college undecided. Picking a major (assuming your college even has majors—many, like Hampshire, NYU’s Gallatin, and Eugene Lang, let you design your own ) is stressful; the pressure is on to choose something that (a) you’re interested in, (b) you have some aptitude in, (c) you want to spend money on learning about, and (d) will maybe possibly help you get some sort of job after you graduate. Which brings me to one of the most important questions in the major-picking game: Should you pursue your dreams or settle for a practical, job-guaranteeing plan of study?
“Taking the middle ground between ‘fun’ and ‘practical’ is fine,” says Rachael, “but don’t major in something you hate just because it’s practical.” You don’t want to pick a major that is supposed to guarantee you a lucrative job and then realize three years in that you hate all your classes. If your passion happens to be in a lucrative field, great. If not, go for what you love and don’t listen to the losers who tell you your degree will be “useless.” “I think any talk of ‘useless degrees’ is nonsense. I think you SHOULD follow your dreams,” says Gabby. “But you can still think practically about them.” For example, Gabby’s dream job is writing for television, but she’s majoring in English because writing well is a skill that could help in her a multitude of jobs, including her dream job.
Another thing that people stress but college kids still FUHREAK out over is that there’s like a 99.9% your major will change. Rachael entered college majoring in marine biology, but then she realized she just wasn’t super good at science, so she switched to creative writing. Krista went in thinking she was going to major in theater, but later opted for English. And don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to study, seriously. I feel like there’s this pressure to know WHAT YOU WANT TO BE (as if your college major somehow defines who you are as a person) by your freshman year of high school, and it’s ridiculous. Once you get out of school that whole “uh, what’s your major” conversation you’re going to have 600x in school ceases to exist in adult world, thank goddess!
Whether college is worth the money, time, sweat and tears is entirely up to you. College might seem like it’s the deciding factor for the whole REST OF YOUR LIFE, but in the big-ass timeline of your existence, it’s just gonna be a li’l four years. What you make of them is up to you—make sure you’re making informed decisions based on what you really want, but no matter what you decide, remember that you can always change your mind, because it’s your life we’re talking about here. Good luck, li’l Rooks—let us know if you have any questions! ♦
* Note to non-American readers: In the U.S. a community college is a two-year institution that gets funding from the government and is therefore much cheaper than a private, four-year school. Community colleges are often used as steppingstones to four-year colleges, or as places to get training for a specific job, like nursing, engineering, or paralegal work.