The Collegian
Tuesday, December 01, 2020


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'So often forgotten': being a transfer student at UR

You will find two window decals on my Nissan Versa. One is a University of Richmond shield. The other is Berklee College of Music's logo. Even though I was at Berklee for only one semester and this is my third year at UR, I somehow feel more loyal to the first school I attended. Here's the story of my switch.

In Boston, my classes were great. Being surrounded by music 24/7 and being taught by famous musicians was great. I even enjoyed learning how to live in the city. But I was cold and lonely in such a hostile social environment. I also missed cultivating my non-musical interests. By Thanksgiving, I knew I had to get out.

UR seemed like a good idea. It was far enough from home (St. Louis). I could study a variety of things but still finish my college career in four years total. I applied, got accepted and made the decision to start here as a sophomore in fall 2011.

But it didn't take long for me to realize that transferring was going to be a big challenge. One example was that Berklee had given me a significant scholarship for songwriting, but as a new sophomore, I wasn't even allowed to audition for a music scholarship at UR. At orientation in August, it was clear that most of the other transfers I met were as jaded as I was, and none of us really expected to make good friends here.

In September, we wrote our Proclamation Night letters and I turned mine in with a degree of cynicism. I expected it to get mixed in with the class of 2015's letters and emerge again their senior year instead of mine.

For about a full year, I continued to get emails addressing the class of 2015. Mine stopped eventually, but another transfer from my orientation group said last week that she still gets them.

At UR, I've been involved with The Collegian, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the music department. Still, I've never quite felt as though I belong on this campus. I'm grateful for the stories of transfers such as Caraline Mikkelsen, who spoke at Proclamation Night this year about how she truly found her niche at Richmond and had a fulfilling time here. But I don't think I'm the only one of us who never fully reached that feeling of being home.

As I had predicted, my letter was absent at Proclamation Night this year. The same thing happened to most of the other transfer students I know. We eventually got our letters from the deanery later in the week, accompanied by apologies.

There aren't many of us, but it's wrong that we are so often forgotten. We bring unique perspectives and experiences to this campus that students who start here as first-years simply cannot offer. If you are a transfer student yourself, do not underestimate the power of getting involved with campus life. Or if you only know other students who have transferred here, ask about their stories--I'm certain they would appreciate the opportunity to tell them.

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