I consider transferring from a community college to a four-year public institution one of the best decisions I made in college. But I didn’t always think of it that way, once unsure, confused and scared. Throughout life, we question whether what happens to us is truly meant to be. Doubts flood your mind and you wonder if you truly belong. But you do. You just don’t know it yet.
College students wonder if they truly deserve to attend the prestigious college they chose. We see everyone around us working hard, questioning if we have what it takes to succeed here. I wondered that when I transferred from a community college to the University of California, Berkeley.
As soon as I stepped into my first class of the semester, I panicked. Anxiety is common on first days but I felt something way past that. My self-doubt grew intensely.
Did I truly deserve to be here?
Would I succeed like everyone else? Sometimes I felt confident I wouldn’t. I rushed to classes, tried to get the best seat and scribbled additional notes. Time and time again to I submitted my best essays, went to my professor’s office hours, connected with people in hopes that they would give me advice— but soon it wore me out.
How far does one go to try and fit in? I was willing to do it all and more. I never felt like I had an advantage or an edge. I considered myself average compared to everyone else.
So, life went on and the semester eventually slowed towards the end. My dark circles got more prominent and my desire to succeed somewhat diminished. I thought back to my preparation for transferring and what they told me.
Administrators tell all transfer students two things when they come to college:
- The workload will be harder, so be prepared
- You belong here just like everyone else!
Of those two things, I chose to focus on the former.
Was I really meant to wander these same halls? Was I even remotely doing better than everyone else? I sat and thought about these things way more than necessary.
Then one day I finished class and sat down on “the glade,” the lawn facing the Doe Memorial library. Students come here to sit, eat, talk, relax, the works. I sat right down and looked at the overwhelming amount of students surrounding me.
Except this time I really looked and listened to them.
Beside me, students looked tired, hungry, lonely, anxious and unsure—just like me. It didn’t matter whether they transferred or not, we all shared the same boat.
“Man, this school really knocks you down sometimes,” I heard a guy say to his friend across the lawn. The friend nodded almost instantly in response. This made me realize that I, in fact, was not alone in how I felt. Other students felt just as confused as to how they got there and if they truly deserved a spot at Berkeley.
No longer did I feel like the insecure transfer student. I was just like everyone other student. At the end of the day we all sat down to take a break on the glade. And despite feeling tired and overworked, we were proud. We felt proud of ourselves for getting to this university, proud of working as hard as we did and proud of what we could accomplish.
This little moment on the lawn will stay with me forever. Realizing I was no different from the college students around me made it clear I deserved this opportunity. Never again would I consider myself undeserving of UC Berkeley.
Something about the transfer experience still somewhat haunts me, but to this day I am immensely thankful for it. I am thankful for the hardships, thankful for realizing that I fit, thankful for allowing myself to believe in my abilities.
I struggled to transition from a community college to a university. The advice given to transfers is appreciated, although sometimes not enough. The transfer student must ultimately take initiative and truly feel in their heart that they’re meant to be there along with everyone else.