College is really just finding love in a hopeless place

Two-time transfer student reflects on college experience

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The final issue of The Spectrum last semester was filled with moving ‘goodbye’ columns from graduating editors or those returning home. I was amazed that nearly every editor said UB was either not where they originally wanted to go or they hated it their first few months here.

I felt the exact same way – two times in fact. You might feel like that, too.

Three years ago, I was going through the college application process as a senior in high school. I had graduated seventh in my class and was convinced that getting into college would be a breeze.

Actually, I hardly thought about college. I applied to only three schools. I wanted to go to Ithaca College but I also applied to SUNY Binghamton and Harvard University (just for fun). I was accepted to Ithaca but ended up at Binghamton for financial reasons.

I did what one former coworker referred to as ‘The SUNY Sweep.’ There are 64 SUNY campuses. I went to 4.69 percent of them.

After a semester at Binghamton I transferred to SUNY Geneseo, which seemed utterly perfect. With ivy-covered buildings that screamed academia on a quiet campus with a little more than 5,000 undergraduate students, Geneseo felt like a calm, beautiful and inspiring contrast to the busy, modern campus of 15,000 undergraduates at Binghamton.

And yet, I’m here. At an endearingly ugly campus of about 19,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduate students.

How in the hell?

I wasn’t happy at either of the first two colleges. I didn’t feel like myself, I felt like I was either missing out or that I was being forced to want those social expectations everyone has of college.

So, I eventually meandered back home to Buffalo and applied to UB.

Whether you’re a freshmen or a transfer student, don’t expect anything. You may stay here until graduation or you may not. You may love UB immediately or take a year to adjust.

You’ll hear a hundred times that being a freshman can be rough as you adjust to living away from home. But you’ll also make friends with people from all across the world, explore your interests in clubs and organizations and take courses that will both challenge and excite you in ways you can’t yet imagine.

And being a transfer can be even rougher.

One thing I never thought I’d struggle with being a two-time transfer student was how much I would miss my old colleges. No matter how unhappy I felt there, each school had its perks.

Binghamton was home to an incredible nature preserve on campus and two of the greatest girls I’ve ever met. Geneseo is still the best academic challenge I’ve encountered and it laid claim to the best sunsets I’ve seen, as the campus looked out over a valley.

As a transfer student, one thing that can become challenging is that the time you spend at your graduating school is short. You have less time to establish yourself there. By the time I graduate from UB, I’ll have been here only five semesters. Having such little time means it’s important to seriously look at how your credits are transferring and what you plan to complete by the time you graduate (do you have time to take on a double major? Would a minor be more feasible?).

Further, administrators always stress how important it is to get to know professors and that can be difficult if you’re switching colleges. If there is a professor you really liked from your former college, keep in touch with them. Transferring from one school to another doesn’t mean you leave the first one behind.

Although this column is just a short welcome to UB with a few small words of advice, I can’t stress the importance of finding what you love at whatever school you attend. Although I loved Binghamton’s rainy campus and Geneseo’s academics, UB has brought me back home to Buffalo, I’ve met many great students and professors, I’m working on an undergraduate thesis (something I probably would not have done elsewhere) and I get to write with an immensely talented staff at The Spectrum. I’m not one to join a bunch of clubs and make a hundred new best friends, but UB has become a second home for me, rather than just where I go to school.

Explore the campus, find at least one thing you’re passionate about and be conscientious of how you complete coursework as a transfer student. In short, welcome to UB.

email: emma.janicki@ubspectrum.com