Rain spattered against the concrete and puddles splashed under my feet as I ran across Dallas Hall Lawn. My black umbrella towered above my head to protect the soft brown curls flowing from my hair that I had worked so hard on earlier that morning. My shoes, on the other hand, were a different story. The cold rain from the humid August day had soaked through them. Nevertheless, I was determined get to class so I kept going.
Upon reaching Umphrey Lee, I swung open the doors to the journalism department. Finally, I was out of the rain. I stood in the hallway for a brief second taking it all in. The newsroom with tall glass windows, shiny silver Mac computers, and a row of televisions flashing the latest news sat to my right. In front of me, a long hallway painted in deep SMU reds and blues led to the studio. I took a deep breath and turned left to my classroom.
I had made it. After over a year of detailed planning, recommendation letters, and lots of stress, I was finally starting my first day as a transfer student at Southern Methodist University. As the rain poured down, it washed away parts of my past to make way for the next two years of my college career. Today, I was a Mustang.
I transferred to SMU on August 27, 2019, as a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. While my experience holds a lot of meaning to me, I am not the only one with a story. According to Inside Higher Ed, more than a third of all college students in the country transferred in 2015. Today, at SMU, transfer students make up 20 percent of the student body.
In my experience, transferring is often an avoided topic and is frequently followed by stigma. Not to mention, it’s challenging because it means you must take a massive leap of faith to move to another school with new teachers, students, and opportunities for the sake of a better experience, fresh start, or a greater future. In other words, it’s like starting college again as a freshman, but this time everybody knows where they fit in except for you. Although it is difficult, it’s immensely rewarding—especially at SMU. Luckily, there are ways to make the process easier.
First, I would advise doing as much research as possible. To explain, I chose to transfer because I wanted more opportunities to prepare for a career in broadcast journalism. As a communications student, I started by making a list of the largest media markets in the U.S., including Dallas. Then, I looked at schools in those top markets. Once I had narrowed down the schools I was interested in, I kept the research going. For each school, I compiled a list of information about the journalism schools. It included the awards, clubs, organizations to get involved in, the professors’ career experience, and how successful students were after graduating.
Second, I visited campus to make sure I could see myself there. Over Spring break, I took a tour through the SMU Admissions Office. I asked many questions, awed at Dallas Hall, and even ate on campus at the student center. Sitting on the outdoor patio at Hughes-Triggs with a Chick-Fil-A sandwich in hand, I knew I could visualize myself as an SMU student.
After this, I reached out to a journalism school professor to ask more specific questions and set up a tour of the facilities. Immediately, they set up a phone call with me to talk about my transferring decision. Afterward, they created an itinerary for my trip to SMU. It included a tour of SMU journalism, sitting in on the morning news broadcast, joining a class, advising, and meeting with the department’s head. Not only did I get to see what life would look like here, I felt welcomed.
With that, I knew I wanted to go to SMU. After a semester of goodbyes to my old college friends and a long hot summer, I finally began courses in Dallas. Little did I know, choosing to transfer was only half the battle. Now, I just needed to find my niche.
Once you arrive on campus, my biggest piece of advice is to get involved. At some point, every college student hears that, but this cliché has stood the test of time. For me, it took a lot of experimenting with clubs and organizations. Eventually, I got involved with SMU-TV, the SMU Daily Campus, and the Undergraduate Admissions Ambassadors program. By joining these groups, I found ways to fuel my passion, meet new people, and even meet other transfer students.
Lastly, and I can’t emphasize this enough: the entire transferring process takes time. Not only does it take patience to wait during the application process, but it also takes time to adjust to the new classes and schedules once you arrive on campus. Above all, real and genuine friendships take time to build as well.
As I approach graduation in May, I could not be happier with my decision to transfer to SMU. In just two short years, the university has opened doors for me, challenged me to be a better version of myself, and introduced me to lifelong friends. With that being said, if you’re transferring to SMU, be patient with yourself and know that all of the hard work will pay off.