When making your college decision people always tell you that your choice determines your future, or to choose wisely since you will make a life-long decision. However, don’t let this intimidate you. Things don’t need to feel so black and white in the sense that you only get one choice and chance in life. Change happens so often that we need to learn to embrace it. One of these changes may pertain to the college you go to.
That being said, transferring colleges doesn’t mean your life will end in shackles because you did not stick to your original plan. It just means that you potentially found something that may work better than what you originally had in mind. No wrong lies within that. Transferring from the University of Central Florida to the University of Florida allowed me to embrace change in many different ways, and so far, it led me to one of my biggest accomplishments. If you can’t decide if you truly want to transfer or not, use my story as inspiration and insight into what the process may look like for you.
Read on for some insight into the thinking process of a transfer student.
Do I actually like my major?
Truthfully, my journey began with this very question. About two years ago, I declared pre-nursing as my major at the University of Central Florida. Thinking back to the college applications I filled out in high school, I really couldn’t tell you how I decided to become a nurse. My mom worked as a nurse for a short while, so maybe I held the belief that working in the health field would match my family’s expectations. However, as I started pre-nursing classes at UCF, I realized rather quickly that my grades did not end up the way I wanted them. I knew my capabilities held such a higher standard than the grades I ended up receiving mainly because the interest just did not exist.
The classes seemed rather boring and dragging, and that truly became evident in my results. Two semesters of pre-nursing went by and a wake-up call came my way. In high school, my grades reflected the effort I put into something, and for the most part, the outcome remained positive (although, chemistry and I never got along so maybe this all makes sense). So, come college, I wondered why all this effort time after time did not translate into the outcome I expected from working so hard. I then thought, maybe a career in nursing just doesn’t define Kristin. At that point, I decided I could not force happiness anymore into something I saw as so dragging. From then on, I knew that I at least needed to change my major.
Well, what major do I actually want?
So, you just decided that you hate your major? Now what? Again, my mind found it hard to believe, that I, Kristin Bausch, would change majors when I already started one? I always held the reputation of sticking to my word, and people always believed my whole life fell into order at all times. Finish what you started–we hear it all the time, but this time I decided I would need to let it slide. Knowing that nursing got cut from the list of majors I could pursue served only as the first step of many.
With a wandering mind and endless thoughts, picking a different major left me in a state of uncertainty. I thought about what I enjoyed and could potentially make a career out of my own liking. My initial thoughts wanted to follow my passion for dance. Sixteen years of it, I thought “why not?” Who was I kidding? I knew myself better than that, and although I loved and still love to dance, I just did not see myself pursuing a long-term career in dance. Let us get back to this in a minute.
Wait… Did I even want to go here in the first place?
*Important life lessons you don’t want to browse through*
Despite all this craziness running through my mind, it dawned on me: why do I even go to the school that I do? Now you may think to yourself, why would you go somewhere you did not want to attend in the first place? That’s a GREAT question that I can surely answer. Have you ever heard of young love? Thinking with your heart? Leading with your emotions? Me. All me. Guilty as ever. Don’t ever choose a school for a person, I mean it.
Although UCF treated me fairly well during my first three-semesters, UF always served as the place I saw myself going even in high school. I always loved following in my brother’s footsteps and I just knew the great reputation UF carried was well deserved. Upon getting admitted the first time, I chose not to go for the sake of my young heart. Little did I know that it would lead me to a series of some of the biggest changes in my life. Once I made it obvious to myself that my school choice did not occur on my behalf, this made the transfer process once step easier.
So… what major do I actually want?
This question actually became easier to tackle knowing that I for sure wanted to transfer to UF. I started off by browsing through all of UF’s majors, making a list of the ones I felt I took even the slightest interest in. With this, because transfer admissions held no guarantee, I made sure that UCF also offered the major in case I would need to continue my education there (always have a plan B). After hours of using the process of elimination, I stumbled upon journalism.
My first thought was, “I mean, I’ve always enjoyed writing.” However, I did my research and truly embraced the idea of journalism and its importance in our country. I also considered the idea of pursuing political science in addition to that. Although journalism never occurred to me while applying to colleges, something about it made me intrigued to learn more. I wanted to tackle this idea of publishing unbiased, accurate articles to fix the strong connotations that journalism currently holds. On top of this, UF houses one of the best journalism colleges so I knew that this combination fit perfectly for what I was looking for.
How am I going to get into a top 7 university?
In all honesty, although I felt so excited to pursue this journey, a whole venture dawned upon me as I soon realized that this process would take work. As a pre-nursing major that never stepped foot in a journalism course, why would a top 7 university with a renowned journalism program accept me, a transfer student, as a journalism major? So, what exactly went down from the time of my revelation to the time of my application?
1. Taking Huge Risks
As you could probably imagine, every school requires different classes for the prerequisites of their majors. Unfortunately for me, barely any classes for UCF and UF journalism aligned. What did this mean for me? Well, by choice, for a whole two semesters I filled my course load with classes geared strictly towards UF’s journalism program. I knew that if my admission declined, credits would not line up and I could potentially lose a few on classes not required by UCF. Not only did classes fall under risk, but I also qualified already for UCF’s journalism program, putting my acceptance to that program on hold for a year. Evidently worth it, sometimes you need that extra risk as motivation to dedicate your time and effort into something.
2. Learning from those who know best
Throughout my journey, I met people along the way that really made everything possible. I knew that if I wanted to create a profile that adheres to what UF looks for in an applicant, I would need to speak to professionals already in the field. I reached out to journalism professors at both UCF and UF and asked for any advice on what future journalists should strive to accomplish. Both Ted Bridis, a professor at UF, and Ted Spiker, chairman of UF’s journalism department, provided me with such great advice and willingly engaged in conversation that allowed me to gain more knowledge about the journalism field. I also took this time to watch videos and read up on articles that truly embodied the role of journalists in our country. With all this, I found inspiration.
3. A series of sacrifices
To receive good results, you need the willingness to put the time in. For me, this meant working the whole summer while taking classes and developing knowledge in my field. The thought of a summer where I could not go out or go to the beach as much as I would like to kind of hurt my soul a little. Watching all my friends live it up while I spent endless nights enhancing my knowledge and looking for ways to stand out as an applicant put so much on my mind. Oftentimes I felt severe FOMO and in some cases, I felt mad at myself for taking on such an ambitious task. Sometimes I even thought, “Do you really NEED to transfer?” Even after submitting my application, to save money for my potential housing in Gainesville, I chose to commute to UCF rather than housing there in the fall. These inconveniences always took over my mind, but one thought always got me through it: if I sacrifice it just this one time, I would get to enjoy many other moments down the road.
4. Stepping Outside your Comfort Zone.
Transfer applications sometimes reign as more difficult than regular applications because colleges withhold higher expectations as you already completed coursework in college. That means things other than academics need to appear on your application. This part scared me the most, as I mentioned before, to begin with, I never even picked journalism. However, from the knowledge I gained from professors and resources, I envisioned what I thought might help my application shine. Doing this allowed me to develop my blog in which I would use to put all my articles on. However, I needed things to write on–things that journalists would write on. Without any knowledge, I attended political rallies that summer as well as rode with policemen all day. I knew nothing about AP style or formatting, but the drive certainly made its presence. With this, my blog turned into this versatile outlet full of creative, political and personal stories. I figured that a well-rounded student would look developed come time to submit my application. Finding that extra thing that held uniqueness, allowed me an extra thing to add to my application.
5. Finding your support system
I cannot stress this point enough. If you truly take transferring with all seriousness, especially to a highly ranked university, it can come off as an emotional, mental and even physical journey. I think if my support system did not exist throughout this time, things would’ve ended up differently than they are now. Sometimes, people find it hard to fathom why anyone would want to transfer. I mean, in all honesty, I thought that originally too. Everything you do might get questioned and if people don’t see the same end goal as you, they probably won’t support you. Finding those people, even if a small amount, who will push you and encourage you because they want to see your dreams come true, will make this process slightly easier as you know people out there genuinely want you happy.
I applied. Now what?
Ah yes. The waiting game. You just put your heart and soul into an application and now in a matter of weeks, you find out if it truly paid off or not. I think this part brings more fear than the actual application process. Everyone fears the unknown and for me, this fear elevated times a thousand. I don’t think the fear comes from not getting in, but rather the fear that everything around you feels temporary. That level of uncertainty of where you’ll live in a semester, or if you need to say bye to your friends, lingers in your head each and every day. As people begin making life-long friends or life-long commitments at their college, you hold everything with a contingency just in case your life will inherit a series of changes in the up and coming future. However, as they say, patience is key.
You got in. Congrats!
Nothing and I mean NOTHING, feels better than when hard work pays off. I remember how frustration filled my day. My commute to my internship on top of my commute to UCF felt so hectic that day. Exhaustion filled my entire body as I waited around campus for my 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Introduction to Journalism class to begin. I just wanted the day to end. As I studied by myself, I checked my email, as by this point it became a routine.
I noticed an update to my application status. I figured to find a message saying my associate’s degree still held pending status and I angrily clicked the update expecting the ordinary. When I opened the “application update,” the first word I read was “Congratulations.” What felt like the worst day ever, instantly became one of the best days of my life. I remember calling my support system that day in tears, knowing the work and effort put behind this all. For a moment, I felt sad opening it alone but looking back on it I cherish every aspect of that moment. It gave me a chance to realize, “Hey. You did this,” and that in itself held enough magnitude for me to finally feel proud of myself.
The Hardest and Easiest Goodbyes
The journey did not stop when I got accepted. I still needed to complete my last semester at UCF, maintaining high grades and making memories with friends I grew to love within my time there. I lied earlier. THIS was the hardest part. Your mind tells you that you completed the work by getting in. Relax, right? No. Wrong. A day did not pass by within my last semester at UCF where longing for change filled my desires. I loved every moment in person spent with my friends, but I felt so ready for taking on my new journey. The thought lingers that you made it, but just not quite yet.
After my last semester at UCF ended, I felt as if I could just let out one huge breath. Happiness and accomplishment took over my thoughts. I knew I would move on to bigger and better things, things that I wanted. I can tell you one thing though — I still wanted my friends around me. Although these goodbyes felt so hard, I already made a choice earlier in life picking a school for a person. I knew that my true friends would find their way into my new journey. Memories will always serve as memories, but life goes on, and true friends stick around.
Welcome to a new life as a transfer student
After winter break took its course, I finally got the chance to start the college experience I always knew I wanted. Although cut short because of COVID-19, I still felt in place from the day I began my journey at UF. I definitely needed to acquaint myself with things like familiarizing myself with a new campus, finding a new dance team and of course taking the bus, but those things fell into place naturally. Although I missed and still miss my friends dearly, I know in my heart that I came a long way. Furthermore, I would not have it any other way. Of course, adjusting happens naturally and you cannot rush into it. But when you feel happier and feel surrounded by what you want, you embrace change with open arms.