As a senior in high school, I committed to a school that I would end up transferring out of after one semester. Obviously that wasn’t in the plan.
Three years later, I’ve attended three different colleges. Obviously that wasn’t in the plan, either.
Let’s take it back to my senior year of high school. When I applied to colleges, I wasn’t really open minded about many options.
I set my heart on going to one place: New York City.
I didn’t even care much about which school in New York. I just knew I wanted to be there— or at least I thought I did at the time.
Once I accepted into a school right in the middle of Manhattan, I mentally checked out of other colleges. I toured some more, but nothing compared to the magical, unreal life I was going to live in Manhattan. Right?
Even after touring the school I planned to attend, I knew deep down that the connection wasn’t there. I swallowed that gut feeling. After all, it was New York City and everything I wanted.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Flash forward to September of the following year when I actually moved into college. After a month, I knew something wasn’t right. I wasn’t “living my best life” and getting the college experience I always dreamed of having.
I felt miserable.
Between not having any sort of campus and feeling overwhelmed in this giant city, reality set in. I knew I couldn’t stay there for four years, nevertheless one year. I started comparing myself to other people at my school, wondering why they all seemed so happy and I couldn’t catch a break.
This only brought me further away from the happiness I craved so badly.
After one semester, I packed up my dorm, left New York and didn’t return. I transferred to another school I toured my senior year of high school, a very quiet campus in the middle of a mountain.
This school took a complete 180 on what I got used to at my first college. I ate at an actual dining hall. I walked from class to class in five minutes, as opposed to my usual 20-minute commute to class in New York. I changed my major to communication. Feeling optimistic, I was ready to conquer a new school in the middle of nowhere.
I spent three semesters at this school before starting to question if this was the best option for me. While studying communications, I decided I wanted to become a journalist. This university didn’t offer a journalism major. The college also felt too remote; it took 15 minutes just to get to the closest city.
I hated feeling trapped on campus.
I missed having things to do and I wanted to get out. I felt like everything I thought I wanted was slipping away again.
The feeling of humiliation creeped in once again. I wasn’t happy in college. At this point, I finished two years and wondered what I was doing wrong.
I knew that spending another two years at this school would do nothing but break me and make me depressed. So I did what I needed to do. I transferred again.
I learned a lot about myself during this process. I applied to schools in cities more low-key than New York. I knew I wanted to live in a city, but I also wanted a campus. This realization was huge for me and moved me one step closer to getting what I always wanted.
Fearing criticism from my friends, I kept my decision to transfer quiet for three months and only talked about it with my parents. I didn’t want to hear judgement, pity or any kind of backlash for my choice. I eventually started opening up and saw how excited my friends felt for me, encouraging me that this third time would be the charm.
If you told me that I’d attend three different schools in three years of college, I wouldn’t believe you. Through all of my internal battles to just “make my life easier and stay put,” to realizing I deserve happiness, I guess I wouldn’t want my college years to end up any different.
Why do I tell this story after all of this time? Because I know I’m not the only one struggling to find that happy medium in college. I know I’m not the only person wondering if she should “suck it up” or “power through the last two years.”
Here’s your answer: You deserve to be happy.
My experience attending three vastly different universities allows me to help other students when they struggle. College is not the same for everyone. I’m the perfect example as to why you should never settle for less than you deserve.
So take a step back and breathe. No one has the power to make changes for yourself but you. You control your future. You have four years of college. And you deserve to feel undoubtedly happy.