Why I Transferred Universities

IMG_092_20191011-200516_1 Transferring to Northwestern
My high school mortarboard that said "Fordham LC"

I spent my freshman year of college at Fordham University at Lincoln Center and then transferred to Northwestern University for my sophomore year. People constantly ask me why I transferred schools and the answer is not one that can easily fit into a surface level conversation. The most general reason I usually give is that I transferred because I felt like I wanted more out of college than what Fordham was giving me, in terms of campus life and academics. 

Since my freshman year of high school, I have been obsessed with Gossip Girl and had fantasies of going to NYU and living in the city like the characters in the show; unfortunately, NYU's financial aid was not where I needed it to be so Fordham was the obvious next choice. 

I was ecstatic to go to Fordham and live one block from Chuck Bass' hotel. While Fordham's location is one of the main reasons I decided to go there, it was also one of the main reasons I left. Fordham's motto is "Fordham is my school, NYC is my campus," which seems like a glamorous thing to say but in reality, that philosophy made me see Fordham's actual campus, a square green surrounded by high rises, as an incredibly lonely place.  

Taking a study break at the Spreadhouse Cafe in lower Manhattan

I studied in cute cafes by Union Square, in Central Park on picnic blankets, and on the lounge chairs on the High Line. I spent weekends thrifting on the lower east side, exploring the food scene in Hell's Kitchen, and drinking cheap beer in the Bronx. I was surrounded by the masses of NYC. However, I rarely spent time in Fordham's buildings; I was constantly exploring NYC but felt no connection to my school. There were no student organizations that I wanted to be part of and there were no events that made me want to stay on campus during the weekends. Many of the people I went to school with were understandably far more interested in going clubbing or seeing indie concerts than sticking around campus to see student theater. 

Spending a Friday night at a rooftop lounge

I once went to a concert that was part of Fordham's Spring Weekend series where they brought in DJs and student artists and there were no more than twenty students at the concert at any given time, with at least half of those students being volunteers who were working the event. Being in the city fostered a lack of interest in school events and I felt lost without a campus community, especially after being at a high school where school spirit was widely celebrated. I wanted to go to a school where people wanted to be involved on campus. I felt like Fordham was using its prime location as an excuse to not provide any programming that students would want to go to. Why stay on campus when you have the whole city to explore?  

In terms of academics, I felt like Fordham was not challenging me to go outside of my comfort zone. I distinctly remember taking three hour naps quite often because I barely had any homework and had so much time on my hands. As a communications major, I know the field of communication is often ridiculed as being an "easy major" and some of my professors at Fordham seemed to reinforce that stigma. 

One of my professors came into class the day of our final and promptly dropped the stack of blank exams in the garbage can, telling us that he was having a difficult time so we all were going to get As on our exam. On the surface, I was relieved because I got to avoid taking an exam that I knew would be difficult. However, on a deeper level, I was disappointed because an A is nothing if everyone gets an A by default. I was paying a fortune to go to school and it seemed pointless to me if professors handed out As like candy. I had worked hard studying for the exam and it was not fair that everyone would be rewarded, especially when GPAs are an important factor into entry level jobs and college internships. 

Another professor assigned a 10 page final paper that I spent hours perfecting, only to tell us that she would let her elementary school daughters read them because they were interested but generally, would skim the thesis and give us As because she knew we worked hard. I obviously can not speak about the entire teaching staff at Fordham but in my experience, many of my professors gave out As because they wanted us to have an impressive GPA, not taking into account how we were losing the benefits that would come from earning actual marks that represented our academic achievements.  

Running the livestream camera at Northwestern's Dance Marathon

 Transferring to Northwestern was one of the best decisions of my life because Northwestern gave me what I felt I was lacking at Fordham. I immediately became part of a tight knit transfer community of students who had gone through similar experiences. I joined the productions committee of Northwestern's Dance Marathon, helping to create promotional videos and working behind the scenes for the charity event that raises millions of dollars each year for local organizations. I rushed a sorority and have found a home of supportive women who watch movies together and mix with fraternities. I have made close connections with professors who are incredibly passionate and tell me about their diverse jobs in communication, from working with NASA to facilitate healthy relationships for astronauts in close quarters to a professor who hosted a television show in the 70s on techniques car salesmen use on potential customers. On the weekends, I go to football games, see student improv shows where people have to stand because all the seats are taken, and drink Starbucks in the student center surrounded by people I do not know yet still have a connection with because of the simple fact that they go to Northwestern. Not only does Northwestern have an intense amount of events every weekend, but also, Northwestern students show up in full force at these events.

All of this is not to say that Fordham is a bad school; it just was not the right fit for me. At Fordham, I felt like an adult living in the city who also happened to be taking classes. I had time to apply for jobs and network and reap the benefits of living in a city that is constantly looking for new talent. However, I wanted to have more of a stereotypical college experience before I have to dive into the adult world. I love being a part of a community of students who live and breathe purple pride at Northwestern. I'm surrounded by people who want to milk their college experience and take advantage of all that Northwestern has to offer. To fully describe the intricacies of why transferring was the right move for me would take an entire textbook but ultimately, while I do not regret spending my freshman year at Fordham,  I am one hundred percent in love with Northwestern.  

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