For most, transferring schools is a permanent thing. Many transfer students have anecdotes of how they felt unhappy or unfit at their original school and how their new college feels like home.
That wasn’t the case for me.
Last spring I became disenchanted with Lehigh University. The idealistic image that I had fallen in love with as a junior in high school — the same one that led me to apply early decision — was slowly tarnished in the latter half of my freshman year.
I was in a bad mental space at the time and was dealing with many personal issues. With sorority recruitment not going as planned, as well as not being selected to be a tour guide or a TRAC fellow shortly after, made me feel even lousier. Soon after, March came along and I had to pack my bags up and go home.
I started to compare my experience to that of my brother’s at Syracuse University. His stories, coupled with those of my friends who currently attend Syracuse, and knowing how renowned the Newhouse School of Communications is, led me to convince myself I would be much happier there.
Without telling anyone, I applied to transfer. Upon receiving my acceptance letter, I committed and withdrew from Lehigh without hesitation.
I was thrilled to start fresh, however, my experience there turned out to be very different than the one I had imagined.
The first few weeks were rough. Most of my classes were large and felt impersonal compared to the ones I took at Lehigh. It was hard to meet people, and I couldn’t see the few people I did know due to COVID-19 restrictions. People were not as nice or community-oriented at Syracuse.
As soon as September, the thought of wanting to go back started to infiltrate my mind. I spent a good portion of September crying on my stairs and Googling “reverse transfers” and Lehigh’s transfer policy.
However, I waited for logic and reason to kick in. Of course things were hard; I had transferred during a pandemic.
A couple days later one of my classmates was talking about how she got a tattoo that says “see the good.”
That was exactly what I tried to do.
I tried to make the most out of my experience by immersing myself in my work and saying “yes” to any plans that were presented to me.
Then, one spontaneous Thursday night in October, my best friend Katie picked me up from my Syracuse apartment and drove me back to Bethlehem.
I had one of the best weekends I had had in months. I walked around campus with fresh eyes, and I knew I needed to come back.. I missed reporting for The Brown and White, taking classes in Coppee Hall, having lunch with my friends and even climbing up the hill.
I was experiencing a classic case of “you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.”
Once I got back to Syracuse, I reached out to Professor Lule in the Lehigh Journalism Department for guidance. He offered to help me with the process of deciding to transfer back or stay at Syracuse. In one email, he reminded me of the sense of community that exists at Lehigh.
Together, we kick-started the process of getting readmitted. With a team of people to help, I prepared to return to Lehigh, feeling supported at every step of the way.
I’ve been back for a little over a month now and I am so happy. I am excited to go to all my classes, despite them being online. I am working with an amazing staff on The Brown and White as an associate editor. I am surrounded by a supportive group of friends.
I keep saying to people, “It feels like I’ve lived a lifetime since transferring to Syracuse.”
Even though I experienced a lot of torment and isolation, I don’t regret transferring to Syracuse because I now see the good that came of it.
I think I would have continued to be unhappy and conflicted if I never left Lehigh. It was leaving that allowed me to realize the environment I wanted to learn in and made me more sure of myself.
Being back at Lehigh, I do not only see the good around me, but I feel it too.