Not to turn this entire blog into a big Penelope Trunk love-fest (I mentioned her in my last post—dazzle me senseless and maybe I’ll write about you next week) but the lovely Ms. Trunk’s advice about job hopping has inspired a post that I’ve wanted to write for a while now.
I interpret the job hopping concept to mean that you leave when the learning curve flattens, when you’re no longer challenging yourself, when you’ve reached the proverbial dead-end. (No, you don’t get a new job ever month because you had a bad day or got in a fight with your boss – don’t be ridiculous) I’d like to extend this concept to justifying the act of transferring colleges, something that I’ve done twice.
I begin by sharing an obnoxious photo spread of me with my most prized possession, my rejection letter from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
This little slip of paper typifies the moment, the turning point, the blessing in disguise that spearheaded my journey to three colleges in four years. I cherish this journey. Because I took the opportunity to question where I was and what I was doing, I discovered where I want to be and what I want to do.
My biography explains my travels so I will try not to bore you with repetitive details. Basically, instead of going to Syracuse (couldn’t imagine paying all that money if I didn’t get into the program I wanted to be in) I went to my “safety school,” Kent State, and majored in newspaper journalism. I had great friends, but I found myself disenchanted with journalism and completely miserable. Anxious for a change, I landed at Nazareth as a political science major with my focus set on law school. After a semester, I realized I hated that and sort of went back by changing my major to communications and rhetoric. However, the theoretically-based, literature-heavy program wasn’t right for me, either. I knew I wanted to do something in that field – possibly broadcast journalism or public relations – but didn’t feel I wasn’t getting the experiences I needed to get a job in either area. Consequently, I transferred down the street to the rival school, St. John Fisher. Ever since, I’ve been inundated with and wholeheartedly loving the comm program here.
Realizing you don’t like something (a major, a career) is just as valulable as realizing you love it. Changing your mind doesn’t make you flake. Most kids encure over $20,000 in student-loan debt trying to get an education. It’s an investment in yourself, in your future. Sure, college is a great time. But what is the ROI? I take the consumer approach to my education, and have constantly questioned what I am getting in return for the money I (along with my unconditionally loving parents, who probably thought I was crazy but supported me anyway) pay and the hard work/passion I put into it.
Are you learning, or are you just biding your time until adulthood? Are you getting what you want out of your education, or are you just comfortable? Are you challenging yourself? If not, I say, transfer.
Good reasons to transfer:
- If you’re not just being a pessimistic, Debbie-downing slacker and your school doesn’t line up with your aspirations – transfer.
- If you’re not being challenged, enlightened and fulfilled by your classes – transfer.
- If you chose a major you love, you know what you want to get out of your education (grad school, a job, etc.) but the program you are in isn’t leading you down that path – transfer.
- If they don’t have the major you want – transfer.
- If you aren’t completely applying yourself, if you’re just going through the motions because you feel that no matter what you do it’s all just a big fat waste of time and money – transfer
- If you have done the homework and know exactly what classes you need to take in order to graduate when you want and you have really thought about this – go ahead and transfer.
Terrible reasons to transfer
- “My boyfriend/girlfriend goes to that school! I think I’ll transfer.” (Most of those things don’t last forever…)
- “My friends go to that school! I think I’ll transfer.” (Are you paying to party? )
- “I don’t like my friends at this school. I don’t fit in. I think I’ll transfer.” (Hang out with different people.)
- “My grades are bad. I think I’ll transfer.” (Work harder.)
- “I give up. Screw this place, I’m transferring.” (Have you exausted all of your options? Are you moving forward, or running away? Do you need another school, or do you actually need a semester off to get your life together?)
- Put up with it – a little bit. I’m a slow boil. I don’t just give up and I try to make the best of a situation. But six months later when I’m finally ready to quit – I’m done and I don’t look back. You can, however, hold out for too long. Don’t wait until you are desperate before you make the decision to positively change your life.
- Do your homework. Know what you are getting into. It’s possible that not all of your credits will transfer. Is what the new school offers great enough that you are willing to study – and pay for – another semester, or year? Be pro-active and stay organized.
- A diploma isn’t a magic wand. Just because you get a degree at a different school does not mean you (POOF!) magically land a job . At least in my industry, you need internships. Can you internship your way to your goal, or do you still need a different program to satisfy your educational/career interests?
- You transfer for a lot of reasons – concentrate and act on the right ones. Nazareth works out great for a lot of people and I’m happy for them. But for me, going there was a huge mistake – a colossal screw-up. A FAIL so epic, it was almost a win. I went there for the wrong reasons. My high school friends that went to Naz were so happy. I think I just wanted to be happy, too, so I chose that school over Fisher the first transfer-around. Conversely, going to Fisher was the best decision ever. I went there purely for the educational and extracurricular opportunities. The comm program focuses more on practical application instead of Aristotelean rhetoric and baby, that’s my style. Because I came to Fisher for those reasons, I’ve focused on those things and positioned myself well to reach my goals. Not that you can’t make friends, but if you transfer to a school with your career and education at the forefront of your reasoning, that is what you will put your energy into, and you will make the best use of your investment.
There’s my very unconventional college advice. I hope that made sense!
Until next time,
Question. Reconcile. Remember: Not all who wander are lost.