Like many doe-eyed 18-year-olds, I walked into freshman year of college with unrealistic expectations: I’d have a social circle within a month, be delightfully challenged by classes and view my hallmates as family. The reality was vastly different. I was the only person on my floor who’d opted out of Greek life, 101 courses were easier than anything I’d taken in high school and my L.A. native roomie got invited to frat parties and events I’d never be cool or conventionally pretty enough for.
Holding onto a dying relationship didn’t exactly inspire me to embrace my new environment, nor did the recent passing of my father. These misfortunes created a parade of horribles and I blamed the University of Arizona.
After I was accepted as a transfer student to CSU-Chico, I assumed that was where I’d finish out my schooling. Though he’d had a blast at “Chico State,” my brother Michael posed the question of a lifetime to me: “Are you running towards something or away from something?” I realized I didn’t actually want to start over again. I needed to give Arizona another shot.
Sometimes you have to be patient before a college can really speak to you and other times you should just transfer. Here are ten signs you chose the wrong college and would be better off elsewhere.
10. You’re still mopey after 1.5-2 years
It’s normal to face adjustment problems the first year, but if nothing improves over the course of 1.5-2 years, you might want to consider a new school.
9. Your program isn’t there
What happens if your school doesn’t offer the major you need? Do you settle for a lesser program or research colleges that cater to your scholarly aspirations? Higher education is pricey. Why put all that money towards an area of study that isn’t going to leverage your learning experience?
8. You want to graduate early for the wrong reasons
One of my best friends from UofA didn’t particularly like college. She took 21 units a semester and buried herself in assignments. All she wanted was to knit and watch Lost to kill time before graduating a year early. She wasn’t finishing ahead of time to save money on tuition or dive into law school, but to get out of our university, which wasn’t a good fit for her. If you want to wrap up early because you hate your school, you may want to look at other places.
7. You stop making an effort
The aforementioned friend is still a huge part of my life, but when UofA became absolutely unbearable for her, she shut everyone out, including me. Suddenly I wasn’t invited over for Lost marathons or asked out for late night Starbucks gossip sessions. When I confronted her about it, she just said she was over UofA and “past the point of no return.” You know you’re in the same boat when even good friends can’t make the experience at least slightly better.
I graduated almost four years ago and don’t even want to think about the cost of higher education now. Unless you’re studying to be a lawyer, doctor or other high-paying professional, a $60,000 per year degree probably isn’t a wise investment. If you’re swimming in loans before sophomore year and aren’t pursuing a line of work that’s going to pay it all back and beyond, the benefits just won’t outweigh the costs.
5. The “best years of your life” aphorism scares the pants off you
I grew up under the false notion that college represents the “best years” of a person’s life. If this horrifies you, worry not. Most likely you just went to the wrong school and things will pick up after you move on and obtain your degree.
4. It’s too rural (or busy)
If you love cities, a school in the middle of nowhere is going to put you to sleep. If cosmopolitan hotspots like NYC give you high blood pressure or panic episodes, city life isn’t for you. Rural or urban, make sure it works with what you need at this point in your young life.
3. You want Greek life and it isn’t there (or vice versa)
If you think college is nothing without the Animal House lifestyle, don’t choose a school without a strong Greek system. If you find Greeks archaic and disturbing, a college that isn’t dominated by frats and sororities could be more of your cup of tea.
2. The weather brings you down
I crave year-round sunshine, dry heat, Palm trees and warmth, so the University of Arizona turned out to be the perfect school for my personality. Those who’d rather freeze than melt under the blazing Southwestern sun wouldn’t be so content in the desert or anywhere toasty.
1. You’re constantly reaching out to old pals from home
It’s common to contact high school friends before you have a tight-knit group in college. Calling, texting, Skypeing and emailing these folks 24/7 is another story. Either you’re not clicking with people at your school or should reside closer to home, where you can return to the familiar and hopefully be a lot more comfortable.
If you feel like you failed at college because it’s not the Great American Experience, consider this: Tina Fey is the coolest woman in the world, but she didn’t pick the best college for her creative needs. In fact, college was anything but a high point for the multi-Emmy award winner. A curly-haired Northeasterner, she was disoriented and at the University of Virginia: “At [UVA] in 1990, I was Mexican. I looked Mexican, that is, next to my 15,000 blond and blue-eyed classmates, most of whom owned horses, or at least resembled them. What 19-year-old Virginia boy doesn’t want a wide-hipped, sarcastic Greek girl with short hair that’s permed on top? What’s that you say? None of them want that? You are correct.”
What did I miss? Share in the comments section.