The Struggles of Transferring

To put it gently, the pandemic completely effed up my college plans.

I’m a famed high school graduate of 2020— no prom, no senior trip, and no graduation. After barely making it through the second half of my senior year mentally, I thought enrolling in the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs was the change I needed.

Yeah, I thought, after three months of not seeing anybody, let us subject ourselves to six weeks of isolation while going through the hardest physical conditioning of our life. Needless to say, I unenrolled from the Academy that December.

Subsequently, in January I began my career at Atlantic Cape Community College— the last place I thought I’d end up. This is not to say community college isn’t a good choice for students; it just wasn’t on my radar.

I found myself taking online classes for the next two years. When the prospect of transferring inevitably came into focus, I had no idea what to do. I never considered in-state schools when I was a senior, and I risked the acceptance of all my credit with out-of-state schools.

Monmouth wasn’t first on my list, but, admittedly, no Jersey school was on that list. However, it was far enough from home that I felt like I was away, and my best friend, another transfer student at Monmouth, lived 30 minutes north. They had the program I was interested in, and I was familiar with the surrounding area. It was a done deal.

Although I’m happy with my decision, it was never one I would’ve even considered if not for unfortunate circumstances.

The transition has been… interesting, to say the least. I’ve gone from one opposite to the other in a matter of months: isolated and online to connected and in-person. Not only have I needed to get used to being a college student on an unfamiliar campus, but a transfer student reacclimating to in-person classes.

Where most students have to acclimate to one of the two, I’ve had to juggle both while simultaneously new friendships and on-campus involvement. I’m not ashamed to admit that COVID stunted my socializing abilities, but as a completely new student, I’ve had to acknowledge these shortcomings and overcome them consciously.

As for how prepared I felt during this transition, I don’t think anybody was prepared for what the world is currently healing from, let alone me.

Moreover, community classes don’t match the rigor of university classes; reintroducing in-person classes after three years without them was eye-opening. Even the idea of simply accepting that this is my life and that I am on a path I hadn’t envisioned for myself was a process and a half.

Nonetheless, I did feel prepared in a number of ways. For example, entering a rather scary and jarring environment like how I did at the Academy prepared me for living with new roommates and having to traverse a new atmosphere at Monmouth.

Regardless of COVID, I may have felt the same way without a global pandemic. The education system isn’t exactly blueprinted for universal success— how is it that a language taught at a literal military institution doesn’t count for a language at a community college? My coding class at the same institution didn’t fill the requirement for a computer class either.

Instances like these prove that the overarching system is built for discipline. Hence, my confinement to New Jersey rather than any other state. If institutions agreed more on what counted for what, I’m sure the transfer process for many students would be insurmountably easier.

Despite this unfairness, I will say that I’m happy at Monmouth. The question still remains: where would I have ended up if the world hadn’t fallen apart?