Born and raised in California, Kelly recently graduated from California Baptist University, where she majored in marketing. Prior to CBU, Kelly spent her first two years of college at Santa Clara University before making the decision to transfer. Kelly played four years of collegiate soccer and aspires to play professionally overseas. Her interests include athletics, health and fitness, writing, working with kids, being outdoors, and art and design. Down the road, Kelly would love to pursue a career in sports marketing.
It is time to apply for colleges, and the last thing on your mind is that you won’t be at your number one pick for four years. However, sometimes that afterthought comes to fruition and you realize, you chose…the wrong…college. There are many reasons you may decide to transfer, and you may not actually want to leave in the first place but be required to. Maybe there are financial reasons like tuition costs, family reasons, or personal reasons that force you to transfer. For me however, I was not forced to transfer. I made a personal decision to transfer because I was not happy at my current college.
After two years at Santa Clara University, I realized, I was not happy there. Actually, backtracking, I can say that I honestly had known as a freshman that I was not enjoying what SCU had to offer and that it wasn’t a good fit for me. That is not to say SCU was a bad school, in fact, SCU was a great school with a prestigious, top-25 business school ranking and soccer program. Even so, SCU was not fulfilling my social, athletic, and spiritual needs, which I had come to realize were vitally important aspects to my life. When these needs weren’t being met, I felt unhappy and empty. After my freshman year when these feelings began to creep up on me, I squelched them out. I forced myself to put on a smile and buried my dissatisfaction, telling myself that things would probably change on their own. The thought of picking up everything and starting over completely freaked me out. The thought of transferring seemed out of the question. How could I admit to myself, and others, that I had made a bad choice? I had friends and family who expected me to thrive at SCU and I didn’t want to let them down. How could I risk everything to start completely over at a new college, and leave behind friends and established connections to pursue a new school that was not even guaranteed to be a better fit? Give up my athletic scholarship? Deal with transferring coursework and classes for a fresh start? It did not seem worth it.
I struggled through my sophomore year and it wasn’t until that spring that I finally accepted the reality: I needed to transfer schools. While being at SCU was two very tough years for me, they forced me to examine, and accept, who I really was. What I was looking for in a college changed as a result—my senior year in high school checklist was wildly different from my sophomore year in college checklist. Coming out of high school, one of the most important things to me was to play at the most reputable, well-known college with the best women’s soccer program around. Now, that was not nearly as important to me anymore. When in that environment, I placed too much pressure of myself. I began to form my identity based on what grade I got on a paper and how much playing time I got on the soccer field. When either of these things didn’t go well, it tore me apart. I wanted a school that had more of a balance between athletics and academics and a school that would encourage me to look at myself as more than an athlete, and more than just a letter grade. I wanted a school that was further from home for more independence, and I still wanted to be on the west coast (best coast). I wanted a school that was Christian and private with small class sizes. Without a doubt, I still had a passion for soccer and knew that a financial scholarship of sorts would be necessary.
I remember calling my dad and telling him, flat out, “I’m transferring.” I took a leap of faith to be proactive instead of continuing to be reactive to the situation I had been in for so long, because in the end, this was my life and I needed to do what was best for me. The next day, I began researching colleges throughout the west coast, using my new evaluating criteria. After coming up with eight schools, I narrowed my list down to four that I could legitimately see myself attending. While researching about these schools, I came across California Baptist University, which seemed to fulfill my checklist to a tee. Shortly after, I visited the campus, met with academic advisors, the soccer coaches, and talked with numerous current students at CBU for their perspectives. When I visited CBU, I had a gut feeling that this was where I was set to be. I mulled over the pros and cons of CBU in my mind for the next month, along with the other schools I was considering. Each time, I kept coming back to CBU though. It just felt right. I concluded that CBU would be the next chapter in my life.
Here I am today, having just graduated from CBU, and I can say 100% that transferring was one of the best decisions of my life. I had not realized how enjoyable college could be. Sure, transferring over some of the coursework from SCU was a bit of a pain. Sure, I did not get to see my friends from SCU often anymore and my new friendships did not form overnight. Plus, I did not have an athletic scholarship to one of the top soccer universities anymore so the athletic prestige was not the same.
Still, what I gained at CBU far outweighed what I left behind. I secured a marketing degree, formed deeper, lifelong friendships, and gained mentors (academic and athletic) who will be involved in my life long beyond my college years. While I gave up one athletic scholarship, I earned another one at CBU and was able to play the sport I love and have a much larger contribution on-and-off the soccer field. During my two years there, I don’t think a day went by when I wasn’t reminded of how grateful I was to be there—whether it was simply eating lunch with my teammates, playing pranks on my friends (ever heard of silly string wars?), or having my teachers know me on a first name basis. CBU filled me with happiness and met my social, athletic, and spiritual needs.
There is no guarantee that transferring will always turn out for the better. I also know there is no perfect college for everyone since each college has its pros and cons. However, I do believe this: Your chances of finding a nearly perfect school for you can dramatically increase your second time around. If you do pick the wrong school initially, during your time spent there you’ll learn more about yourself and find out what’s important for you. It is a clarifying and honest time.
If you find yourself unhappy at your current college, take a look at your situation. Is it something you can change and is it something that you really want to change? If the answer to both is yes, then the college may be a great college but might not be the right one for you. Although transferring may seem scary, I encourage you to consider it, for it can turn out to be one of the best decisions you ever make. That’s how it turned out for me.