In December 2019, I woke up at Kairos, a Catholic centered high school church retreat, as a group leader. I knew it was the day when Fordham University planned to release their decisions on Fall 2020 Early Decision applicants. I remember it being shortly before 3:00 PM when I saw the email.
"John, welcome to Fordham University's Class of 2024," the email said.
My high school senior self, excited for the years ahead in New York City, did not know that I was only going to spend a semester and a half at Fordham. I also didn’t know I would finish my degree at IU in a completely different degree program.
To the transfer students at IU, welcome, and to the incoming freshman, I recommend you keep an open mind about your freshman year.
I started mastering the college experience when I got into Fordham. I dove into the world of academia taking two core classes the summer before my freshman year. Additionally, I wrote a story in Fordham Lincoln Center's campus paper, The Observer, titled How I Know I Am Ready for My Freshman Year at Fordham.
"Whatever the fall brings, however, the incoming freshman Class of 2024 will stand together," I said in the conclusion of that article.
That was more hope than reality. I do not know if it was the result of college life in the middle of the pandemic, the “personality” of the East Coast or simply what I found to be an unwelcoming culture at Fordham. It did not take long for me to understand Fordham was not the place for me.
As soon as I left New York City in March 2021, a year after the pandemic started, I looked at transfer options. To be honest, I did not know exactly what I wanted, but I knew what I did not want. I was in search of a larger school, not set in any particular region in our country, although there is clearly a “welcoming culture in the Midwest” that I have come to appreciate.
To make matters complicated, it was March and most schools' deadlines were in a week. I took the week to apply to 13 new schools from the Midwest to the East.
The first school I heard back from was IU-Bloomington.
In my mind, IU had the reputation of being a giant Midwest party school that was a continuation of high school full of old friends from my same hometown. I found this not to be the case.
IU had a community. When my mom and I visited in the pouring rain in April and again in May, we were continuously reminded of the comradery of the Midwest. Even though we could not get a tour due to short notice and COVID-19 protocols, people were willing to answer our questions and assist in any way they could.
Orientation and connections among classmates is something that proved to be extraordinary at the university. The Office of Admissions is your best friend throughout the transfer process. They will do everything from articulate transcripts to providing lunch recommendations during your visit.
IU was unlike every other school I considered. They continue to be helpful in assessing previous academic credit, and the university has given me additional opportunities to succeed with many more clubs and events.
The best piece of advice I could leave with people considering a transfer is to identify what is important to you, keep your options open, ask for advice and advocate for yourself when needed.
John Hultquist (he/him) is a sophomore studying community health with a double minor in urban planning and community development and nutrition.