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The path to college is a winding one. The choice of which school is best for you is personal and may depend on a blend of outside forces. I started my college career at one school, but ended up transferring to NYU.

In the midst of senior year festivities, endless college applications, and familial expectations, I was thinking about too many things other than myself when choosing my university.

NYU originally accepted me for my first year, but I started at a university I’ll refer to as “Beginning College.” I was happy with both the prestige of Beginning College and the comfort of a relatively small, classically styled campus. I had friends from my high school starting at the university with me. Most importantly, my parents loved the school. I’m pretty sure I had season passes to all the sporting events before I even knew what classes I was going to take.

Your university experience is what you make it! While it may be scary to start over, don't be afraid to transfer.

I was happy at Beginning College, but I wasn’t as happy as I could be. I originally declined my chance at NYU for a variety of reasons, but the main one was my parents. They didn’t feel like it was best for me. They thought I’d be too distracted, or that I would lose myself in the city. That kind of fear of the unknown was what followed me into my decision making. NYU is not the typical college experience. It is an urban campus without walls or gates.

At my first college, I met amazing friends, explored an awesome city and made memories that will last a lifetime. My first year was amazing and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. However, every single time I saw anything having to do with NYU or New York my heart sank and I felt like I had made a mistake.

More importantly, instead of choosing between my face-deep feelings towards two different schools, I was starting to think about the resources and course paths they had to offer.

Sometime in my first year spring semester, I fondly remember thinking about what would make me happiest and most fulfilled in my immediate future. When it comes to thinking about colleges and transferring, it’s important to navigate the differences between a “grass is greener” mentality and actual pros and cons between options.

When I originally applied to transfer to NYU it was for the College of Arts and Sciences. I was interested in environmental studies—the same thing I was studying at Beginning College. I didn’t look into all the options NYU had for me. Once I looked into NYU Gallatin, I found out I could make my own concentration. I realized there wasn’t a single major out there that would suit my undergraduate studies, rather it was best for me to make my own. That’s when I knew that I wanted to study sustainability and design and I needed to do it at NYU.

Navigating your options:

I applied to transfer to NYU behind my parents’ backs. It was the only school I applied to. I decided and submitted the application so quickly it felt like there were forces in the universe carrying me. “Universe energy” didn’t seem like the right thing to tell my parents to win them over, so I knew I had to get my story together.

I received my acceptance into the Gallatin School of Individualized Study during my finals week at my first school. It was a wave of energy, a mix of both excitement and fear for the decision I had to make. By the end of my first year at Beginning College, I had surrounded myself with amazing people, interesting clubs, and really cool professors. Even though I felt like NYU would be perfect for me, I was scared to leave behind the life I had made for myself and have it not be worth it.

I was trying to make this decision for myself when I already knew where my parents wanted me. I knew I needed to only focus on myself, I had to make my decision and then win them over. In order to confidently make my decision, I had to learn more. I was able to dive into the variety of sites and resources NYU has available online for prospective students. I later booked a tour and a ticket to New York City, and before I knew it I was on my way! One of the great things about NYU is that there are so many ways to learn more about the university whether in-person or virtually. Our virtual tour is the perfect way to experience NYU when traveling isn’t an option.

After stepping foot on NYU's Washington Square campus and meeting with my Gallatin transfer advisor, I knew it was perfect for me.

A few weeks after my first visit, I was back in the city with my parents. A fortuitous work trip brought my mother and father to the city. This was my chance! My mother and I met with my transfer advisor in Gallatin. We were blown away by the wide range of backgrounds Gallatin professors covered and the power I had in building my concentration. Later that day I gave my parents a brief tour of the campus (foreshadowing my now-job as an NYU Admissions Ambassador). After that, I had them where I wanted them and they saw NYU through my eyes. I’ll never forget when my father said, “Now show me where the bookstore is!”

Only one year had passed since I graduated high school, however, my view of the world and what was best for me had totally changed. I do believe that my first year before transferring perfectly prepared me for the next leg of my college journey.

And now I sit here as an NYU senior, my undergraduate college career coming to an end. The countless experiences I’ve had from sophomore year welcome week to a summer term at NYU Florence to a spring at NYU Sydney, the amazing students and professors I’ve built relationships with, and the empowering concentration I’ve successfully created have made every struggle worth it. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the past four years.

So, whether you're a high school student, a college student thinking of transferring, or someone thinking about what's next — it's okay to question the current path you're on. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself.

How’s it going?! I’m Jimmy, a senior in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I’ve created my own concentration of Sustainability of Design and I’m minoring in Social Entrepreneurship which takes place in the Stern School of Business and the Wagner School of Public Service. I’m from Rochester, New York and my favorite color is blue. I love exploring New York and I’m a foodie at heart. I’ve studied away at both NYU Florence and NYU Sydney!