When looking back on orientation, everyone I talk to tends to have a VERY strong opinion about their experience. Either orientation was the absolute best or it was a disaster that sank the future student into an overwhelming state of panic until September, questioning if they made the right decision.
First of all, if you are in the above state of panic and wondering what in the world you got yourself into, don’t worry about it. College isn’t like high school and, as one of my favorite high school teachers told me when I was struggling to pick a college, “you don’t have to stay there if you don’t like it. You can always transfer.” After all, most students don’t need to sign a commitment form tying them to the one school for all four years.
That being said, the college I first picked was not Fairfield University. From someone who did end up transferring after loving orientation and hating the rest of her first year: don’t rush the transfer question. No matter how bad it seems, give it time. Most people don’t transfer, even if they hate orientation, but some people only give it half of a semester (because you need to apply to transfer halfway through the semester and pay for part of the following semester’s tuition) and end up regretting it. The truth is, that first half semester is probably going to stink. Homesickness, no matter how close or far you are from home or how close you are to your family, is real. Everyone feels overwhelmed, panicked and lonely when first arriving at school. It’s an adjustment, it feels horrible, it takes time to get used to, but you need to allow the time.
The best tips I can give any orientees struggling with the “Transfer Question” are:
Get Involved. I probably sound like your New Student Leader right now, but it’s true. Hear about a club on campus that sounds even remotely interesting? Go to a meeting or two, even if it’s something really weird. If you go to enough different meetings, one of the clubs or organizations will stick and you’ll find a lot of people with the same interests as you. When I transferred to Fairfield, I joined at least 10 different clubs my first semester (major overkill) and, while it took me a while, I found the Mirror, loved it and never left.
Don’t Settle for One Group of Friends. If you get along really well with one or two people, that’s great, but there are a lot of other Stags and, if you say “no” or avoid to every other invitation in favor of sticking with those same two people every night, you’re going to become stuck and miss out on a lot of the so-called “college experience.” So, yes, spend a lot of time with those initial friends, but make sure to leave yourself open to new people and situations.
Go to Class: Go. Even to core courses where your grade doesn’t matter (to you or anyone else). You will meet so many people in those classes that you’ll never have the opportunity to come across again because you’re studying different fields, but some of them can become your closest friends. Especially if the class is horrible: because, really, what better way to bond then over an impossible course load or professor?
Give it a chance. Don’t jump to a judgement, give it a semester and a half. It can be hard, but a lot of people are going through the same struggle. If, after the first semester, you still feel like you made the wrong choice and want to transfer, start looking into different schools. However, until then, make sure to keep an open mind about Fairfield, your fellow Stags and all opportunities that come your way!
My most valuable memory from my first-year on campus is something I didn’t know would be my best memory until now – finding my senior year roommates. If you were to tell me that all 3 of my senior year roommates would be from 4th floor Jogues, I wouldn’t believe you. Yet, here I am, ready to embrace my senior year with three of the most amazing women I’ve had the privilege of being friends with. Finding your place on campus can be a challenge, but once you figure it out, I promise there is no greater feeling than being able to call Stag Country “home”. To the three awkward and nervous first-year students that become my best friends – thanks for seeing me at my worst, at my best, and continuing to be three of my best friends since week one. Now, let’s tackle senior year!