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On Transferring to Tufts

Campus | April 8, 2013

As a transfer, it’s fitting that one of the most common questions that I’ve received at Tufts has been, “Why did you decide to leave your other school?” From the semester and a half that I’ve spent as a student here, it’s become clear that the response to this question is, of course, different for each individual transfer. For some, it was academic unhappiness; for others, moving to Medford meant moving closer to family. For me, it was something a bit harder to explain: a lack of excitement might be the best way to describe it.

I arrived at Tufts after having spent two years at a small, all-women’s liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts. My former school was beautiful, near four other colleges, and academically challenging. I had no trouble making friends, had a fantastic roommate, and even joined the school’s Track & Field team as a high jumper. On paper, it seemed I had found my perfect school. However, beneath the surface, something felt off. I wasn’t excited.

My most exciting story from a total of four semesters was about a time that I helped a sick friend make it home safely—and really, it wasn’t a very thrilling night. I simply knew that when Amy began clutching her stomach, vomiting, and sporting a burning forehead, she needed to get back to our campus. I had taken her to the bus stop, checked the schedule, and made sure to get on the correct bus. I had no number to call; no familiar way to navigate the situation. The normally easy act of getting home felt arduous.

I had to ignore the anxiety that accompanied the situation and instead fake confidence for Amy, assuring her that one way or another, we would get back to the dorm as fast as possible. When the bus finally pulled into our campus, right outside of my dorm, I knew I had done it.

However, this is not a story about overcoming obstacles or being loyal to friends. This is a story about my previous two years spent at another college and how they led me to Tufts. That night on the bus was followed by many other college stories and yet my appetite for the “college experience” was not satisfied. That had been my first dose of college excitement, and that was just the trouble.

In the past, this lack of excitement had never been a problem for me. All throughout high school, I was a never-ending stream of enthusiasm. My stories were endless. My parents would have to cut me short during the routine question of “how was your day?” at dinner, because I had so much to say. But once I arrived at the place where I assumed I would spend the next four years of my life, and even allowed myself time to adjust and get comfortable, I still felt nothing. My classes may have been rigorous, but I was never enthusiastic about any of them. I may have made friends easily, but I still had to travel the 15 minutes to another campus in order to have a fun night out and maintain a social life. And, to top it all off, the lack of a high jump coach during my first two semesters made my athletic experience pretty disappointing.

That was enough to make me want to do something about it. Enough to drive me to re-create my Common App, to contact my high school guidance counselor for transcripts and a recommendation, and to spend hours writing and editing essays that I had once thought I would never have to think about ever again.

I had to tell my parents, who were in full support of my decision, and eventually I had to tell my college friends, who were not. As I wondered what would happen if I was accepted—whether or not I would fit in, make new friends, be able to handle a double major, and other worries. What scared me most was the prospect of spending the next two years of my life stuck right where I was.

This is where my story meshes with the stories of other transfers: no matter the specific reason behind the move, all of us realized that we weren’t as happy as we could be and decided to do something about it. I refused to look back on my college experience with remorse, and the full knowledge that I could have changed my situation but didn’t.

Tufts was the perfect solution. I knew about the school since my mother and sister had complete undergraduate here. But then Tufts offered me opportunities that I never thought I would have—both academically and socially. Transferring has taught me the importance of taking initiative when I’m unhappy with my experience, and I can only hope that other transfers have had such a positive experience. That’s what college is aboutfinding your own path. Mine led me from that never-ending bus ride to Tufts, where even a Joey ride can be exciting. I can honestly say that transferring has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.