“Boiler the f*ck up.” 3-year-old Grace always knew where she belonged. Photo courtesy of Jill Wright.
GRACE WRIGHT | OPINION COLUMNIST | firstname.lastname@example.org
“If one thing’s the same / It’s that I’m subject to change.”
This is the chorus of Kelsea Ballerini’s “Subject to Change,” and if you had talked to me a year ago, I would have told you that I couldn’t relate to these lyrics any less.
I hated change, and I avoided it at any cost. I was dreading college for that very reason, but since becoming a Bulldog, I’ve changed my major — more than once if you count the identity crisis I had before I even stepped foot on campus — and now I’m preparing to make a change I never imagined for myself.
If everything goes according to plan, I will be transferring to Purdue University in the fall.
Transferring was never really on my radar because I had convinced myself that it would mean I had failed — failed to make the right decision, failed to succeed on my own and failed to meet the expectations everyone had for me. I felt a lot of shame, especially because I don’t like to be wrong, but making mistakes pushes you to grow and learn more about yourself.
My decision to transfer is primarily due to the isolation I have felt here at Butler.
During my first semester, not only was the homebody in me trying to adjust to living in a new environment for the first time, but I was also in a major that simply was not right for me. As a result, I didn’t have the energy to put myself out there like I probably should have.
In my second semester, I have found myself significantly happier and more passionate about my studies, but I’m still struggling to find any sense of work-life balance, largely because of the “go Greek or go home” culture at Butler.
I never thought Greek life would be for me, and although I tried to keep an open mind, my gut instinct ended up being right. Unfortunately, on a small campus, 35-38% of the undergraduate population choosing to belong to a fraternity or sorority allows Greek life to really consume the social scene.
Because most of the girls I’ve met are rooted in their sorority houses, I don’t feel like I’ve made any really strong connections. I spend my weekdays predominantly alone, hyperfocused on my schoolwork and counting down the days until the weekend when I can go home and satisfy my aching need for human connection.
While I absolutely value my alone time, this is not the way I want to spend my time in college — merely tolerating what’s supposed to be the best four years of my life.
Junior English major Kenneth Foran, who transferred to Butler after attending Point Park University and Butler County Community College in Pennsylvania, also described feelings of isolation as his motivation to transfer.
“I never really felt connected to anyone [at Point Park University],” Foran said. “PPU is also what I would define as a ‘vertical campus.’ It’s in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh and consists of half a dozen buildings … Because of that, I started to feel pretty claustrophobic … Those feelings of loneliness and claustrophobia led me to my decision to find a new school.”
In addition to those who transfer because their current school isn’t the right fit, transferring is also inevitable for those students who begin at a two-year institution and wish to get their bachelor’s degree. After transferring from Point Park University to Butler County Community College, Foran pursued transferring for a second time for this reason, ultimately enrolling at Butler University.
Some students also transfer because the school they’re at doesn’t offer the academic programs or majors they’re looking for.
Sidney Bunch, a former music education and performance double major at Butler, transferred to Purdue in the fall of 2022 after she fell in love with botany.
“When I compared the Butler biology program to the Purdue plant science program, I saw there were almost no botany-focused biology classes at Butler,” Bunch said. “On Earth Day [last year], I got my acceptance letter to Purdue, and the pure joy I felt reading the decision told me that it was time to transfer.”
No matter the motivation behind transferring, the challenges that accompany this decision are virtually unavoidable. One major obstacle in enrolling in a new university is transferring your credits.
Emily Robison, assistant director for transfer admission, identified this as one of the most common points of concern for transfer students.
“How [students’] credits transfer from one institution to another may present an obstacle,” Robison said. “Will all of their credits be accepted by their new school? How will their transfer credits be applied to their new degree program? Will they be on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a total of four years, or will more time be required?”
Robison encourages transfer students to use the resources available to them to help navigate these unknowns.
“I would advise students to call or email the transfer admission representative at the school they’d like to attend,” Robison said. “We’re here to help. Schedule a campus visit, if possible, and ask questions to find the information that’s important to you.”
Students also face the challenge of starting over — again. When Foran first arrived at Butler, he felt the all-too-familiar loneliness he was hoping to escape by leaving PPU.
“I found it a little difficult to make friends at first,” Foran said. “I’m living about 400 miles away from home, so coming here was a true clean slate. I didn’t know anyone here and didn’t have any connections to this area, so I felt really alone.”
Foran went on to explain that he has since found his place on campus and that he absolutely made the right decision in transferring.
“I really feel like I have become the best version of myself here and have never felt so happy to be a part of a community like the English department,” Foran said.
Bunch had a similar experience as she transitioned from Butler to Purdue and left the Indianapolis community for the first time.
“Dealing with leaving all of my friends and family in Indianapolis was one of the hardest things about transferring,” Bunch said. “[In my first semester at Purdue,] I missed my friends and felt left out when I would see them making new memories and moving on with their lives without me … Since really prioritizing my mental health and continuously reaching out to those I care about, I have started to finally like Purdue and really look forward to going to class every day.”
One thing that is so important in transferring — whether it’s something you’re considering or a change you’ve already made — is to lean on those constants in your life. Whether that’s family, friends, romantic partners or someone else entirely, hang on to the people who will support you no matter where you are.
Don’t be afraid to start over again just because it didn’t work out the first time. You should never feel an insuppressible wave of anxiety or dread when you step foot on campus. That’s not an environment that will allow you to thrive.
This is something that rang true for Foran, and he offers it as a piece of advice to other students who are considering transferring.
“Go with your gut,” Foran said. “If you feel like where you are is not helping your potential, by God, go somewhere that does. Sometimes a change of scenery will open you up to some life-changing experiences.”
Just because a university isn’t for you doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. There’s a reason there are about 4,000 degree-granting academic institutions in the United States. We all have different needs, and, as a result, different environments unleash the best versions of ourselves.
And just because a school isn’t where you belong doesn’t mean that it wasn’t special. For many of us, college is our first time leaving home, so any university, whether it’s where we belong or not, is a stepping stone on our journey to finding our place in the world.
I’m certainly beyond grateful for my year at Butler — for the lessons, the moments of discovery and the opportunity to write for the Collegian.
I might graduate as a Boilermaker, but I will always be one-fourth Bulldog.