“Confessions of a women’s college dropout.” When said out loud, this phrase sounds like the title of some recent romantic comedy, or the newest installment in the chick-flick genre. However, I was once given the task of describing myself using only six words, and was quick to settle on these.
Being a transfer student at Lehigh is as much a part of my identity here as being a member of Greek life or an athletic team is to others. So much of how I define myself within the social climate of this school today revolves around my relationship with the one I had previously attended.
My freshman year of college was spent at a small liberal arts school in New England where there were virtually no male students. While it was far from a convent, I knew entering freshmen year that I was not beginning with a “normal” college experience. Orientation at my old school was a week-long and at times overwhelming process that was rigidly centered around giving you a crash course in the eclectic and competitive community the college prided itself on.
Early on I realized that despite the admirable drive and intensity of my old classmates, I would be better suited to thrive in a more traditional university setting. Despite this, I made sure to make an effort to try and get the most out of my time there. I enrolled in the courses that interested me, many of which covered topics that bordered on the outlandish and naturally didn’t end up transferring over to Lehigh. I took Instagram photos of the picturesque campus, which, much like here, every tour guide referred to as “just like Hogwarts.” I also got close with my teammates on the track team and in my orientation group, which made it all the more difficult to drive away from campus that May with the intention of never going back.
I stepped foot on Lehigh’s campus that August with the same nervous energy that every new student experiences when beginning college. However, whereas freshmen students can bond over the thrill of their first-ever experience with university life, I found myself in a unique situation.
During the actual meetings, our Orientation Leaders radiated the same energy and enthusiasm that every first-year student is met with, and I’m forever grateful to them for that. Their only limitations were the result of what they had been given to work with.
Compared to the freshmen class, we were met with limited meeting times and fewer opportunities for introduction or interaction to the rest of the Lehigh community. While I understand there may be some reservations on the university’s part to involve us in an entire orientation schedule (after all, we had already gone through a similar process one or two years prior) we were still entering into a new and unfamiliar setting. The quiet Massachusetts suburb of my former school differed greatly from Bethlehem, and the small, discussion-based classes I was used to were now a thing of the past, replaced with the massive lectures that are ECO 001 and IR 10. Despite having a year of college behind me, I still found myself in an environment that was just as unknown to me as it was to the freshmen.
Since then, I have found my niche at Lehigh, and have never once regretted by decision to leave behind the atypical life I had been leading at my old school. I only wish that as Lehigh begins reviewing applications and choosing the orientation schedule for this fall that they remember the transfers. It’s frustrating to be referred to as a “transfer success story” when I’m in fact just living out a normal existence here at the school. A few more additions to the transfer orientation schedule and a little more programming would make a world of difference, and would help prove that finding happiness and normalcy at Lehigh as a transfer student is the norm, not the exception.
Students are always describing the four years they spend at Lehigh as the best of their lives, and regret that their time here has to be so brief. Personally, I wish I had four years, because three certainly doesn’t feel like enough.
Meg Kelly, ’17, is an assistant news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]