We’ve all received this statement in one form or another—the one following a cryptic email telling you to check your student portal because an update has been made. An update that holds so much promise and potential, shaping your future from that moment on. It’s often opened during senior year of high school—but it can also be opened your freshman, sophomore, or junior year of college. A time when life didn’t exactly go as planned. For personal reasons, you found yourself at a college you didn’t like and decided to go through the tedious process of reapplying all over again. This means rewriting your college essay, asking for recommendations, and filling out FAFSA and CSS forms while juggling your current course load. Enough to give anyone a headache. And, yet, you do it anyway.
The prospect of having to stay another semester in the middle of nowhere with bad roommates and terrible food or at a college that simply does not feel like home is enough to push you into the nerve-wracking process of transferring. That’s not even mentioning the inevitable self-doubt and accompanying all-nighters spent on your application, leaving you absolutely drained. But despite all this, you somehow made it. You opened the message in the portal, greeted by a rain of digital confetti, realizing it was all worth it.
Now, months in, your life feels very different than it was at the start of college. You set yourself on a completely new path, and the person you are now is different from the one you once were. Although you may find yourself with the same hobbies, favorite shows, and study habits, you now have different friends, BC sweatshirts, and a new sense of home. That alone has a substantial impact on your life whether you notice it or not—and I’m here to emphasize the latter.
A problem occurs when you don’t immediately notice the internal change and your brain tricks you into a spiral. It takes a moment of self-doubt, a bad grade, or one minor inconvenience that makes you feel the immense weight of being a transfer and all that comes with it. Suddenly, your brain rewrites the past, no longer viewing your old college experience as a negative one. Instead, remembering it in a positive light and disregarding all the things that made you leave in the first place. It’s a continuous cycle because it takes one low moment to set off this paradox and blind you toward all the things you’ve actually gained. This is the transfer paradox. One that prompts many questions. Was this the right decision? Would I have been better off staying at my old school? Should I transfer again? When you ask these questions, you fail to recognize how much your life has changed for the better. These moments of doubt may dictate your life—but it is rather unavoidable.
No matter what, you’re going to run into obstacles. There’s going to be a class that doesn’t transfer over, several core requirements to fulfill, and little to no choice on what your schedule should be. Despite this being a rather bleak outlook, it’s the reality that transfer students go through. As a transfer, you’re greeted by a new set of challenges leading to moments of doubt that make you question everything and deny the facts. The transfer paradox overshadows the fact that you made new friends, went to countless football games, created new memories, and set yourself on an entirely different path for the better. None of those fun memories or opportunities would have happened if you never took the initiative of transferring. Nor would you have found yourself at a college that has a tendency to look picturesque in any weather.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of recognizing these moments and holding onto them. Realizing that the person you are now is different from the one you once were—the one who would have stayed at a college that wasn’t meant for them. Although transferring is full of its ups and downs, it’s up to you to not fall into that paradox and understand that you made that leap of faith for a reason. One that led you in an entirely different direction for the better.