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Breaking Up With Your College, and Falling for UMass: The Life of a Transfer Student

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Sam the Minuteman, mascot of the University of Massachusetts, with a valentine.

There are a million factors that influence where someone chooses to go to college. So much so, that finding the perfect fit can take a couple of tries. The first place you chose may be great, but what happens if it’s just not great for you?

Such was the case for Rebecca Duffy, a junior journalism and communications double major, and Avani Shah, a sophomore marketing major, two transfer students who decided to break up with their former colleges and take a leap of faith with the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Q: Why did you decide to transfer?

Duffy: “I transferred because Westfield State was a really small school. I have a bunch of friends that go to UMass Amherst, and I would come up and visit them. I liked how big the campus was, there were a lot of opportunities here, and also they have a bigger journalism department, which is something that interested me in coming here.”

Shah: “I wanted to explore other areas within business, so like hospitality and tourism, and then also see if I wanted to minor in something else. I could just explore different things major-wise.”

Q: What was the very first thing you liked about UMass Amherst?

Duffy: “I liked how diverse it is, there’s people from all over the world here. That was one the first things that I really liked about UMass Amherst.”

Shah: “I honestly just have to say that the people here are so nice, I feel like everyone is so helpful. I haven’t met anyone that won’t help when I’m lost.”

Q: Being a transfer student isn’t easy. You’re starting from zero where everyone kind of already knows each other. How did you find your place at UMass?

Duffy: “By joining clubs. I’m involved with the Irish Dance Club on campus, so I do Irish dancing here, and I’m also a video reporter for the Amherst Wire, so I do stuff with them, that’s what allowed me to make friends on campus, that I got involved and I got involved as soon as I got here, and it definitely helped me to find my place at UMass Amherst.”

Shah: “That was one of my main things too, when I transferred, I was really worried coming in as a second year. It’s like everyone already has their groups of friends, and you always hear that people don’t always want to branch out. But for me I’ve had three or four high school friends that I was really close with. At orientation I met a couple girls and we’re very tight now, in the sense that we’re always meeting up every week, because we’re all transfers, so we’re all kind of in the same boat and we used that to branch out and meet other people.”

Q: What tips do you have for students thinking about transferring?

Duffy: “Be open to new opportunities. It’s going to be scary. If you definitely are transferring, you know you’re leaving your old friends behind and you’re coming to a place to make new ones. But definitely keep your mind open and maybe join some things like clubs that you didn’t really think about joining. Or, you know, going random, living with somebody new.”

Shah: “I would advise anybody who is considering transferring to just apply, to have the option open, and then once it is open then you can kind of decide, and go through and see what would be the best option for you both academically and then also on a personal level,” Shah said.

Getting that slight-but-ever-growing feeling that where you are might not be where you want to be, going through the college-searching process once again, and making the decision can be nerve-racking. But guess what, there’s nothing wrong if where you started isn’t where you’ll finish, because the most important thing about college is that it makes you happy. If you’re not happy where you are, why not take the leap? One thing’s for sure, you’re not alone in this journey. UMass Amherst will definitely welcome you with arms wide open.

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