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Transfer Tales: Switching Schools Is More About Fit Than Ranking

I was once a Gamecock at the University of South Carolina, also known as USC. (To my friends at the University of Southern California, the “real” USC was established as a university before California was even founded as a state.) With SEC football, Greek Life, and southern tradition, transferring from a school like USC to Boston College was a huge transition.

Some say that size doesn’t matter, but it matters a lot for college students. An individual who went to a large, regional high school would probably be better prepared to thrive at a massive state school such as USC. The guy who went to a relatively small boarding school in New Jersey, however, would definitely say that bigger is not always better.

Immediately after transferring to BC, I was shocked by the difference between SEC and ACC football. First, students down at USC always dress up for the home games. Guys wear polos and button-downs while girls generally wear black dresses and cowboy boots, which are excellent for sneaking mini bottles of liquor into the stadium.

The Gamecocks’ football arena, known as Williams-Brice Stadium, is also a behemoth of a venue. To put things into perspective, its capacity is nearly twice the size of Alumni Stadium and even dwarfs Gillette Stadium by about 12,000 seats. Attending a football game there was akin to the atmosphere of an NFL playoff game and more like the Super Bowl when South Carolina pummeled the Georgia Bulldogs (ranked 6th and 5th, respectively) back in 2012.

That is not to say, however, that Alumni Stadium’s smaller size detracts from the overall experience at BC. Obviously, BC would have no use for a stadium that fits 80,000 students, and more importantly, the smaller size allows students to recognize and find each other.

BC makes up for its lack of relative size in its close proximity to one of the largest cities in the United States. We truly have the best of both worlds when it comes to size and location. When on-campus activities don’t suffice, one can make a quick commute into Beantown via Commonwealth Ave. or the Green Line. Between visiting notable museums to supplement traditional classroom learning and helping others through service programs such as 4Boston, BC students have a growing list of activities to enrich their collegiate careers.

Going to school in Columbia, SC brings many of these same perks, but on a much smaller scale. (Columbia is approximately one-fifth the size of Boston, and a large portion of that population comes from the 24,000 undergraduate students.)

In addition to football, Greek Life had a very significant presence at USC. For anyone who has seen Animal House or Old School, fraternities and sororities are frequently associated with the traditional college experience. Although many of my friends at different universities pledged during freshman year, I did not take advantage of my “triple legacy” at Kappa Sigma fraternity for reasons that stem from my early decision to transfer. After all, who wants to endure weeks of pledging without spending any time as a brother?

Instead, I explored other opportunities such as working for the school’s top-15 ranked newspaper, The Daily Gamecock. I actually received a stipend for my work editing and writing for the news section since the newspaper is backed by the university. The Heights by contrast is entirely student-run and its editors put in hours of work for no compensation at all. Despite the lack of monetary incentives, I have a greater commitment to my work for The Heights because it doesn’t feel like a job. On another note, our newspaper’s independence provides more freedom, which is important for news reporting and creating dialogue about controversial topics.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my “study abroad trip” down south. Transferring is commonly viewed as a mistake in choosing a college, but I see it instead as a change of plans. Attending USC was everything I wanted it to be and more, but at some point I simply changed my mind. This is not to say USC is an inferior school in any way, but merely different. Also, my transfer experience is just one of many. If you are lucky enough to meet another transfer student, I encourage you to learn his/her story and celebrate why we love our alma mater.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff




September 21, 2015

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