The Misadventures of the Transfer Student: A Journey of Never Ending Paperwork and a Great Leap to Happiness | The American Word

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The Misadventures of the Transfer Student: A Journey of Never Ending Paperwork and a Great Leap to Happiness

Paige Gilmar | 12/7/15 11:19pm
| Updated 12/7/15 11:19pm

Jaclyn Merica /
American Word Magazine

Letters of recommendation, profiles for CSS and FAFSA, admissions essays, scholarship entries – it sounds like the nightmarish realities of a high school senior, but this paperwork is also a reality for some college students. Indeed, for some, these pressures and exhaustible strains move beyond a high school’s poorly-painted lockers or its hallways and laminated wooden floorboards. The always too-soon deadlines for these applications plague a great deal of American University’s student body: its transfer students.

As a private university whose tuition can total up to $42,556 per year, American University must provide students the opportunity to acquire a refined education and allow students to enjoy the thrilling college experience the campus has to offer. However, the 4 percent of the student body who find AU to be incompatible with their tastes take a step once more into the dizzying and overwhelming processes of college admissions.

In a study conducted by Indiana University Bloomington, researchers found that most students’ satisfaction rates are directly linked to the quality of their social relationships with peers and faculty members. A student’s commitment to degree completion and to a given institution, therefore, is related to the student’s overall satisfaction with their social relationships.

Caroline Nugent, a once-American University student who transferred to the University of Maryland in 2013, stated, “I believe the dynamics of AU either fit a student’s personality and they thrive there or it just doesn’t fit and they transfer. I realized rather quickly, within one semester, that it did not fit my personality.”

For a vast majority of students, the role of social circumstances are integral to their ability to function healthily in an academic environment. It is quite natural for freshman students to feel a touch of unease over the transition to secondary education, with its enticing parties, perplexing midterms, and the campus’ ever-expansive buildings. For some, this discomfort can be too colossal. According to Mark Tyrrell, co-founder of Uncommon Knowledge, the leading online source for psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, the environment individuals find themselves in, such as a university campus, can hold a highly hypnotic effect on them. An individual’s susceptibility to any given environment works as a primal defense mechanism, enabling each person the ability to make quick decisions as means of survival in their setting.

Tyrrell cited that students exposed to environmental triggers worked to embody their surroundings. In a research study conducted by the journal Science in October 2008, researchers found that after sitting in a dull office with a monotonous professor, students tended to walk away from said office at a much slower rate. In contrast, students who were exposed to energies of ‘youthfulness’ and ‘vitality’ in the same office walked out in a quick and enthused manner. This finding shows how the environment works powerfully in shaping and reshaping students’ mental and emotional states.

As stated by Nugent, “I felt as though I did not fit in with the student body, which made life at AU rather lonely. It was beginning to take a toll on me, so I began to think about transferring. It just was not working at American, and I could feel it. UMD is a much larger school with a very diverse student body when it comes to academics, hobbies, and interests. It attracts all different types of students and I felt as though I would fit in better with their student body.”

Emily Foster, a Northeastern University student who transferred from AU in 2012, affirmed, “I didn’t love the overall social scene (of going out to the quad to get rides from frat guys and going way off campus). I also didn’t realize how far AU was from the city, it felt like I was in a bubble. I felt that overall I didn’t click with most people at AU (besides my close friends, who I still talk to) and that I found myself always wanting to go into the city and not stay on campus.”

Nevertheless, the road to transfer to another university can be just as hellish as one remembers from his/her senior year of high school. From non-transferrable credits to the separation from close peers and faculty, a transfer student’s will for a different university must be solidified in order to surpass any obstacles that await.

Tyler Loughran, an AU student who transferred to the University of California, Davis in 2014, agreed that the transfer process was quite stressful. “The most difficult step was trying to determine which credits were transferable. Transferring from a semester to quarter or even an East to West Coast school is fairly hard and time consuming. You have to be motivated and put in the hours of communication and research.”

Nugent also supported this case, as she expressed, “It was hard for me to be honest with myself and realize that, while AU is a great school, it wasn’t the school for me. It was something I never anticipated happening, but I had to be honest with myself in realizing I was not happy. Things don’t always turn out how you planned, and by transferring from AU, I realized that things will work out.”

Despite the struggles AU transfer students faced, the outcome was most definitely a positive one. Due to how heavily social circumstances influence the human cognizance, a change in university worked as a blessing for many transfer students, as Foster said, “I don’t regret transferring at all, it was the best decision for me. Though I did have a good time at AU and it is a great school, it just wasn’t the best fit for me and I needed to make a change.”

Nugent concluded, “Don’t be afraid to be truly honest with yourself. It was difficult for me to justify leaving a school that was perfect for what I wanted to study and do as a career. I struggled with that for a long time. I never thought I was the type of person to transfer, but it says nothing about your character if you need to make a change in your life.”