Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

We shouldn’t be ashamed of transferring

Transfer students face a myriad of social and academic challenges that shouldn’t remain unnoticed
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Parker Peters

When I started filling out my transfer applications in December, I made the conscious decision to tell as few people as possible.

Having now told the majority of people I’m close to at the University of Massachusetts, I can see why this might seem like a poor decision; how unfair, rude and just flat-out weird would it be to one day prior to summer break nonchalantly tell my friends, “Oh, by the way, I’m leaving?” However, after speaking to a few students who decided to transfer into UMass, this seemingly odd fear of making your future plans known isn’t unique to me.

Going through the transfer process, I’ve noticed that there’s almost a stigma surrounding those who decide to leave their colleges. Most people assume you’re leaving because you’re failing, you’re anti-social or both. And while it’s true there are some that might transfer for those reasons, the vast majority transfer simply because they feel they’d succeed more at a different institution. Transfer students could be among the brightest in their class but might want to leave because they feel unfulfilled.

One of the reasons I was so fearful of applying was because I too subconsciously believed the stigma. By applying to transfer, I felt like I was admitting that I was a failure, and that I had made a terrible decision by attending UMass. Most transfer students, however, are taking on a challenge that rivals even some of the toughest university courses. Applications take up lots of time – as one transfer student pointed out to me, you’re willingly taking on a workload-and-a-half by filling out supplements and balancing an already difficult course schedule. On top of all that, transfers could retake standardized tests to boost their resumes, adding more stress to the abhorrent schedule outlined prior. I’m far from a genius, but even I felt proud of myself for willingly taking on such a daunting task.

On top of all the academic issues, admitting you’re transferring creates tension around the friends you might’ve made at your first college. I understand being hurt when hearing a friend is willingly leaving; it’s perfectly understandable that some people assume they have something to do with the decision being made. While a situation in which a student transfers because of their friends is completely plausible, based on my experiences and those shared with me by other transfer students, it’s the complete opposite. The guilt I knew I’d feel explaining to my friends that I was trying to leave UMass was something that almost made me decide not to go through the process. However, I’m grateful for the understanding nature of those I’ve grown close to; they supported me, even though they admitted that they’d be sad to see me go.

Of course, it’s natural for people to be somewhat confused when you tell them you’re transferring. It’s healthy and compassionate to ask questions about such a potentially life-changing decision. When I told my family I was applying, they all naturally had a few questions, and were concerned about my well-being. My family, being the paranoid group they are, assumed I had been bullied into transferring which, shockingly, wasn’t the case. However, after having explained my reasoning, they, still concerned for my well-being, decided it was for the best and that I was making a good choice.

The stigma around transferring isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, since natural human reactions to big news likely won’t change and high schools continue pushing that you need to know exactly what you want the second you graduate. However, recognizing that it’s okay and normal to be unhappy in a collegiate environment, and asserting that not all transfer students are idiots, can help break down this barrier and stigma so few of us are even aware of.

Michael Perrone can be reached at [email protected]

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