Huge thanks to Madison Keyser, a close friend of mine, for sharing her college transfer story. Transferring colleges is a difficult choice for many college students and often brings stigmas and rumors along with it. Madison opened up for Endless May to share her experiences with transferring colleges and finding her place. I am incredibly proud of her for not only opening up but also following and listening her heart which takes a lot of strength.
Similarly to any high school student interested in going to college out of state, my senior year was filled with frantically filling out college applications (13 to be exact- I was crazy!!), a seemingly never-ending waiting game and the nostalgic moments realizing that every experience with your high school crew, could be a last. By April I had heard back from all my colleges (finally) and was ready to decide. This moment was bittersweet and I had to make a hard decision. My whole life I had wanted to go out of state and my parents strongly encouraged me to live up to that dream. However, at the same time, I was nervous, unsure if it was still what I wanted and I had a long-term boyfriend who was staying in Utah which meant saying goodbye. Eventually, I made my decision and left for Lewis and Clark College in the fall of 2015, hundreds of miles from home.
There are few days I remember more vividly than the day I left for college and the day I arrived at Lewis and Clark. Saying goodbye to my boyfriend hurt more than I expected and my parents claim that I cried for half of the car ride. My friends, who know me well, know that this was a challenging thing for me to accept. I am a proud independent woman and seeing myself crumble so much challenged this identity (at least, that’s how I felt at the time).
The next couple days my spirits were higher. I was excited for orientation to start and to meet my roommates. The day I moved into my dorm I was the first one there and unfortunately my roommates didn’t arrive till much later in the afternoon. They had chosen to go on a pre-orientation outdoors trip, which looking back I regret not doing and would advise for every incoming college freshmen to take part in if given the opportunity. My parents left that same night and a pit in my stomach formed as I walked back to the parent/student bbq by myself that my parents couldn’t attend because they had to drive back to Salt Lake City.
I cried myself to sleep because the pit just wouldn’t go away. I figured that this was normal, I had been warned that going out of state was challenging, but this intense feeling that I had made a mistake was hard to ignore.
This feeling didn’t go away and I quickly found myself exploring the idea of transferring to the University of Utah. This interest formed so quickly after I had arrived that it was a red flag for my parents and I was met with strong resistance all the way till my Spring Semester.
Many people felt like I hadn’t given it a chance and to this day, I really couldn’t tell you if they were right or wrong. All I can say is that it was hard watching my friends who did stay in state have such an easier transition, to know that I would be reunited with my boyfriend if I were to go back to Utah, and to picture what my life could be like, versus what it was at Lewis and Clark at that moment in which I didn’t really feel like I belonged and I had any friends.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad- I was very lucky that I had amazing roommates, a boyfriend who supported me through every step and friends all over the country who Facetimed me when I was sad or having anxiety, which was more often than I’d like to admit.
By October, I had decided that I wanted to transfer. I had gone so far as applied and was admitted at the University of Utah but for the good or the bad- my parents did not allow me to come back until I had finished my freshmen year, hoping that I would change my mind. At that moment, I realized that I could no longer gut my way through this experience with Modern Family marathons spending every weekend in my dorm room, friendless.
I had to get serious about finding ways to make myself happy because I was in it for the long haul, and at least then, when spring semester finally did end, I could say that I tried my hardest and transfer to the University of Utah like I wanted to do all along. By getting help from the Counseling Center at Lewis and Clark and getting involved on campus, I was able to make the best out of the situation. These things made spring semester bearable but in the end, still were not enough to convince me that Lewis and Clark was the place for me.
In some ways, this was one of the easiest decisions of my life and so far, I have not regretted transferring in the slightest. It was not all easy, however, and I struggled with the negative stigma that can come with transferring. I felt that I had failed and felt that my close friends and family were judging me, or worse, were disappointed.
Eventually though, I had to let the fear of disappointing others go and I realized that I made this decision for me. In the end, it made me a much happier, healthier and better person.
I now attend the University of Utah and love my college experience. I have joined a sorority, write for Her Campus, and have so many close friends. I finally feel like I found my place that I had watched all my other friends find their freshmen year- it just took me a little longer and there is no shame in that.
Madison Keyser is a junior at the University of Utah studying economics and Spanish. She aspires to go to law school someday and hopes to work in the family and employment sectors. She enjoys spending time in the outdoors, traveling, writing, and just hanging out with her friends and family. Keep up with her and her adventures on Instagram.