New Bwogger Caroline Mullooly brings you this account of being a transfer student, who knows that this whole college thing isn’t sunshine and rainbows.
“Are you a freshman?”
I freeze and—after considering lying for a hot sec—resort to an audible “No, I’m a transfer.” Underrepresented, the small transfer population has a unique set of struggles and advantages within the CU community. Whether it’s explaining why you decided to transfer to your parents’ friends (“It’s just a lot of mental hoops to jump through”) or trying to blend in with the rest of your class, we transfers live different lives from our entered-as-first-years counterparts.
The greatest trial of the transfer student is finding their CU identity. We’re not as eager as freshmen, yet we’re still not in-the-know about school culture. Why is my meal plan not working? What is single-stream recycling? What is a PrezBo???
Eloquently put by Ashley Zhang, a CC transfer: “Being a transfer is hard because you’re caught between wanting to stick with people in a similar position, but also wanting to make friends with returning students.” While it’s comforting to stay in the NSOP-created transfer bubble, transfers also want to join clubs and become friends with students that actually know what’s going on. Zhang also states that being a junior transfer presents its own difficulties because “there aren’t many of us” and “it feels like everyone already knows each other.”
All transfer students may be having their own identity crisis right now, but we all appreciate our greatest secret weapon in entering this university: the fact that we’ve all “done college” before. According to Krishna Menon, a CC sophomore, “[being a transfer is] all of the fun of entering a new environment without any of the heart-wrenching anxiety of [freshman year].” In an effort to fit-in, freshmen also try “infinitely too hard [in LitHum specifically] and it’s weird” (a CC sophomore who chose to remain nameless). Freshmen, we see y’all, but first semester is tough as nails. Even if you love your ED-applied, known-since-birth-you-wanted-to-go-there institution, you still miss your hometown, your high-school friends, and the desire to sleep in your own bed.
Freshmen also have sky-high—if you haven’t seen that movie you are capital R in REALLY missing out—expectations. High-school faculty often present college as this big, shiny disco-ball to their hormonal teenage students. An anonymous BC student believes that “being a transfer isn’t as hard as I thought it would be because [she] doesn’t have [those] crazy expectations.” Let’s face it, folks, college isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you drop your Swell in Butler, and other times you’re stuck talking to that person from last weekend while waiting in line for Peet’s. College isn’t perfect—and it doesn’t have to be. If it was, we wouldn’t learn anything about the real world, and isn’t that why we’re all here?
Transfers also have the advantage of being more honest about who they are and what they want out of college. Meeting an “EXCuSE mE??!? Do you care about the crisis in Palestine???” with a “No, sorry!”, transfers accept the notion that they don’t have to like everything, and not everything is going to like them. Rejection sucks, but after getting rejected by one, two (ok FINE), three clubs, transfers aren’t dismayed because they still believe Columbia has more to offer them than their previous institutions.
By the same notion, transfers are more honest about the shared need for social interaction. Proven by ~science~, people crave talking to other people. Everyone wants friends, everyone wants to feel included, everyone wants to feel like they belong here. Transfers already know that from previously being a freshman, which makes it slightly easier to say, “Hey wanna grab lunch?” to that person you saw one, singular time. Transfers don’t feel like they have to pretend to be someone they’re not because—and PLEASE hear me out freshmen—it doesn’t work out. If you’re not honest about who you are, you won’t attract people that are like you, and you’ll feel like a round peg in a square-holed friend group.
My favorite thing about being a transfer is the shared gratitude between transfer students. When you walk around feeling like “How, just HOW, did they let me in??”, you often feel like a scam artist. Impostor Syndrome is alive and well, but even more prevalent is the voice saying “I can’t believe I get to go here.” No, really, I can’t believe I get to go here.
I believe transfers are more grateful because we all have the same, unique perspective of coming from a really unsafe/toxic/[insert word about your old school here] environment to a place that values learning, diversity, and the safety of their student body. Every college has its flaws, but transfers don’t whine about Barnumbia’s because they are so unimportant compared to why we each wanted to transfer. Of course I am just one student, and I am in no way trying to speak for every student that has ever transferred here, but in the broad scheme of things, transfers are (usually) the definition of “just happy to be here!!” And freshmen, while we cringe at being asked, “Are you a freshman?”, we’re here for you because we’ve been there before.