Sabrina Gunn recently graduated from University of San Francisco sigma cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. She recently moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to live with her fiancé who is in the Navy. Sabrina had a non-traditional college experience that spanned a large public University, various community colleges, and finally a small private University in a big city. She loves writing, traveling, art, and adventuring and is currently looking for opportunities that allow her to combine all of her millions of passions and talents.
The summer before I left for college I couldn’t contain my excitement. I constantly researched the out-of-state public University I would be attending in the fall and filled my head with ideas about which dorm I would be in, how I would decorate it, the clubs and associations I would join, and the amazing roommate I was destined to have. With all these built up expectations swirling through my head it never once occurred to me that I might not spend all four years at this institution. In my mind I had found the University for me, despite only having visited once and not knowing anyone from my high school that would be attending with me. So in September of 2011, freshly out of high school and chomping at the bit to get away from home I packed up the appropriated ten page long recommended list (don’t buy into those by the way, most of the “dorm essentials” will never be used) and headed North to what I thought would be the college experience I had dreamt of.
Immediately after my parents dropped me off I knew something was amiss. I was pretty shy but it seemed as though no matter how much I extended myself, tried new things, and talk to new people I had an empty feeling that I didn’t belong there. The school I attended was incredibly sports driven, something that I will never feel attached to or particularly enthusiastic about. It was also in a traditional “college town” setting in which there was not much in the surrounding area to do other than attend the hallowed football games, drink, and party. I was zero for three in that department. I became extremely lonely and depressed as I came to grips with the fact that the beautiful life I had envisioned for myself at my University was simply not coming true. Yet in my mind there was no alternative. I had chosen my school; it was too late. As I scrolled through a Facebook feed of elated friends from high school attending parties, joining sororities, and having a blast I sunk deeper and deeper into a crippling depression. I called my parents nightly for almost two hours each time, sobbing hysterically and desperately wanting to come home.
I started attending a support group on campus for my depression and through that met an older student that gave me some of the best advice I received. After explaining how miserable I was and how I felt like a failure for leaving after only spending two months there she told me, “Don’t let other people convince you of what you should be doing or where you should be. If you aren’t happy here this early on there is absolutely no shame in transferring schools. People do it all. The. Time.” It was as if someone had turned a light on in my world again. Other people transferred? And they didn’t feel stupid or lame for making the wrong choice in which college to attend? Not everyone was as happy as they appeared to be at their new schools? In that instant I knew what my heart had been trying to tell me all along. That this so-called “dream school” I had decided on was not the right one for me. I called my parents and told them that I was coming home and that I would attend the local community college until I figured out my next step.
Now, attending community college was never an option I had previously considered. I graduated from a Catholic all-girls college preparatory high school that basically instilled the belief in us that if we went to community college it was only due to the inability to get accepted at the more prestigious four-year public and private institutions. It took a lot for me to realize how jaded and simply untrue that was and once I did I became much happier. I left my first college after only a trimester and never once regretted or looked back on that decision. After spending a semester and a summer at the community college, picking up credits along the way, I found what truly was the ideal school for me. I started there the following fall and immediately fell in love with the hustle and bustle of city life, the stimulating academic environment offered at a smaller, private University, and met lifelong friends in the process. Through my non-traditional experience I learned that transferring colleges isn’t the end of the world, but rather can be the beginning of the rest of your life.