I read all the articles, looked all the sites and had done all my homework. I made the decision to transfer schools. I hated my school, the program, the location, pretty much everything about it. After almost two years at my small liberal arts school in Iowa, I was done with small towns and even more done with small town people. I hung out in Minneapolis as much as I could back in high school. From a small town, I grew tired of the way that everyone gossiped. I hate to say it, but I also got sick of “small town nice.”
I picked out the school I wanted to transfer to, and I was ready to finish my application. Strangely enough, I wanted to transfer to another liberal arts school, but this one sat smack dab in the middle of the Twin Cities. They also have a better writing program than the school I ended up at, which to me seemed like a win-win all around.
This story really starts before I even chose what college I wanted to go to. It starts with kindergarten, when I first started taking piano lessons. I immediately loved playing the piano. In fourth grade, I started to play guitar. In fifth, I began saxophone lessons. When I wanted a new challenge, I messed around with different instruments like the flute, the ukulele and the clarinet. I couldn’t get enough music in my life. As a sophomore in high school, I wanted a new challenge. So I began to take cello lessons. It was pretty obvious that I was going to major in music.
When I started to look for colleges, I looked specifically at their music programs. I applied to seven schools, including Luther College, the school I ended up choosing. My choice wasn’t made easily though, as my senior year of high school came with physical therapy and doctor appointments.
The idea of being a musician felt less and less probable with each doctor I saw. No one could explain why my hands constantly hurt and went numb. March rolled around, which meant it was too late to find a school I loved that didn’t revolve around music, too late to apply anywhere else. Luther and another private college topped my list, but I couldn’t decide between them. After a lot of thought, I flipped a coin and chose Luther.
One semester into my college experience, I wanted nothing more than to transfer to a place where I fit in better. My parents said no, and that I needed to try harder. I decided to stay at Luther. To try to make myself happier, I changed my major to psychology even though I still participated in music ensembles like band. Second semester, I found new friends and actually began to feel like I fit in, at least a little bit. Sophomore year came around and I took an English class and wanted to change my major again. Changing my major was half the battle, and the other half involved finding new people.
I started to join activities again during the fall and spring of my sophomore year. I pledged a sorority and joined the rugby team just hoping to find more friends. It worked pretty well. I wouldn’t trade my friends for the world. Academics still posed a problem, though. The program just wasn’t for me. I also missed the city. It’s hard to go from constantly being in a big city to living in a town that doesn’t even have a Target. No joke, the nearest Target is over an hour away.
I found the perfect school for me—Macalester. It offered a great writing program and it was in the city. Overall, it felt more like home even when I walked around campus. I even met with an advisor from that school. I felt like my dreams were coming true, until I learned the price. This private school didn’t offer scholarships to transfer students. I couldn’t afford their full tuition.
It completely crushed my dreams, but I tried to stay positive about continuing my education at Luther. I tried to find classes that really interested me. I took a class last year that taught me to make movies out of poetry. I’ve taken classes from two completely different fields and found a way relate them back to each other through my class projects. Some classes (like rhetoric) taught me to stretch myself in ways I never imagined.
Now in junior year, I’ve learned that the program and the place don’t make or break the college experience. I made plans to study abroad for a semester, so I wouldn’t have to spend my last two years in a small town. Now I get a chance to explore the world. And I’ve also come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t really matter what undergrad I go to if I can go to a decent grad school. In hindsight, I wasted a lot of time trying to decide whether to transfer, and I wouldn’t want to leave now.