Being able to look back at my personal social media posts through the “memories” function is amazing. I smile as I’m reminded of all of the incredible moments of my journey through higher education. Today, I was reminded of a very special moment for me. It was two years ago, April 18, 2017, that I received the email notification from the University of Illinois informing me that my admissions decision was made. It was the final school I was waiting to hear a decision from. I hadn’t even made any campus visits to the other schools that I had been accepted to yet because I was waiting for this decision.
Receiving an acceptance decision is wonderful because you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s the moment where you feel like your hard work is paying off. Then you realize something important; you still have to decide whether or not the college or university in question is right for you. After watching countless YouTube videos and pouring over hundreds of pages of information for each school, it seems like every school has something wonderful and unique to offer you. You already know what life has been like while attending your previous college or university, but now you’re looking to take your educational goals elsewhere. The real test is the campus visit, in my opinion.
When you visit a school that you are considering, explore the environment and surrounding community. Imagine yourself living there. Picture yourself working there. Consider the ways in which the campus, school, and surrounding community will help shape you. The guided tours are certainly helpful, but after the tour concludes I recommend taking the time to just explore on your own. If you have your family with you during your campus visit, ask them if they can meet you later and go explore the area on your own in order to enhance the immersion experience.
Ask lots of questions to faculty and even the students when you are visiting. It was really important for me to be able to get an idea of what each prospective school was offering. If it is possible to book an appointment with a department representative from the school of your intended major, do it. Ask a lot of questions. Find out what kind of programs or opportunities they offer to encourage learning or acquiring experience beyond the classroom. Discover what connections they have to the industry you hope to enter. Inquire about what graduating students go on to do. Ask them about research opportunities. This is your decision, your education, and your dreams. As a transfer student, you already know how things were at your previous institution. You should be able to have a lot of questions.
Trust your gut. You are obviously a bright student and you’ve made it this far by relying on your intellect and instincts. You’ll know when a school, a community, and a program fits with you and where you want to be. There are a lot of things that are considered and weighed by individual students before making their decision. The criteria involved in making those decisions varies a great deal from student to student. Discuss your decision with those involved, be it family, friends, or mentors. Weigh your options but be firm in your convictions. You will find yourself in the right spot.
Transferring is a new chapter and an exciting transition. Regardless of what school you decide to attend, you should be facing the future with a sense of excitement, hope, and determination at the prospect of all-new possibilities that are waiting for you ahead. I hope that considering these things when making your decision helps you and wish you nothing but the best of luck on your journey, fellow transfer.