I transferred universities my senior year of college. I’m adding on an extra year of school (and racking up all the debt), but believe it or not it’s worth it. Here’s why.
I attended the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) for three years. My first year, I entered as a business major, mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my dad said he could see me studying business. At the end of my first year, the advisor I was assigned for “Deciding Majors” (because “undecided” looks bad?) convinced me to major in Interactive Digital Studies (IDS). There’s a 99% chance you’ve never heard of this major, and neither had I, or anyone else in the world, unless they happened to be an IDS major at UNI.
My sophomore year I was too young to really enroll in any of the classes for the major, so I took more gen eds and struggled my way through the year. Near the end of my spring semester I decided two things: this major and this college were not for me. I spent all of my free time reading and writing.
This is pretty much how I spent my free time growing up, too, when I wasn’t playing sports or hanging out with friends. Once I got to high school my mom suggested I go into book publishing, which I actually considered, despite what she thinks. I just didn’t see it as a realistic option, though, given I’m from small town Iowa and I couldn’t see myself ever leaving my family to move somewhere like New York or Boston or Seattle. Hence why I settled on business.
Then, the summer before my third year of college, we took a road trip up the east coast. We went up to Maine, which was beautiful. We went to Boston, which was awesome. We went to New York City, which I fell in love with, the same way I for Seattle the summer before my junior year of high school when we took a road trip out west. Suddenly moving to these places didn’t feel so unrealistic anymore. I could picture myself living there, walking the streets and dodging traffic.
UNI doesn’t have much of a writing program. They have an English major that’s probably alright, and they have a Creative Writing minor. This might have sufficed, had I not checked out University of Iowa’s writing program, which I already knew was amazing. They had recently created an English and Creative Writing major, where you get the best of both worlds, which was exactly what I wanted. On top of that, though, they had a Publishing Track option for the major. You take ~5 courses on publishing to help you decide if you want to go into the business or not and, if so, what part you want to focus on. Not to mention, Iowa City is a city of writing and literature; there are literary magazines, cafes and book stores everywhere. So I applied.
That fall semester I took my first creative writing class, along with my first literature class. My literature professor was Jeffrey Copeland, the man who not only showed me how to love and appreciate literature but assured me that I was doing the right thing by applying to Iowa. It was an early morning sitting waiting for his class to start that I received my acceptance email from Iowa. I felt my heart-rate pick up as I screenshotted the email and sent it to my boyfriend, my sister, and my parents. As corny as it sounds, I had to blink back tears as class started. I made sure to stop and tell Copeland the news on my way out that day.
My junior year, and I was about to transfer to another university. I couldn’t believe it. Time kind of flew by after that, to be completely honest. We decided that I would live with my boyfriend next fall, since he was a sophomore at Iowa and we would most likely end up graduating at the same time now (no, I didn’t transfer to Iowa just to be at the same school as my boyfriend, despite what I’m sure a lot of people are thinking and not saying). I fell even further in love with literature and writing through my classes.
Despite my efforts I couldn’t take another class with Copeland, but he did give me recommendations of other professors to try to get. My creative writing professor, Brooke Wonders, who also recommended the Mary Karr memoir to me, was the best and I managed to get two more classes with her in the spring, which were equally as fantastic.
So now here I am, more or less a month away from starting over. I’m back to being a “junior” since I have an extra year of college after transferring. My new advisor is great, a nice change from who I got stuck with at UNI, who unfortunately was not the level of helpfulness I needed at the time. One of the classes I’m taking is a literary readings course, where we meet as a class once at the beginning of the semester and once at the end. In the time between we have to attend 10 readings at the local cafe/bookstore and do write-ups on them.
I’m going to be focused on reading and writing full-time. Some might say I’ll get burn out, but I disagree. I’ve been reading and writing since I was in 5th grade, I’ve basically been preparing for this my whole life. And this is what I want my future to be. I want to read and write all the time. I’ve never been so excited.