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  • Writer's pictureElana Mariani

A Message to My Fellow Transfer Students

My senior quote in high school was one Theodore Roosevelt’s finest.  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  I remind myself of these words each and every day when I feel myself slipping back into regretful thoughts, jealous feelings, or negative habits.  I am struggling to hold on to the essence of this quote during this graduation season in particular.

Four years ago, I decided to go to SUNY Purchase for their BA in Theatre and Performance.  I very quickly learned that it was neither the campus nor the program that I had so hoped it would be; all around, this school was just not the best fit for me.  I finished out the 2016/2017 academic year, and stumbled upon a lesser-known program in a similar area of study at the University of the Arts.  Now, I am pursuing my BFA in Directing with a music minor, and am pleased to say that I am noticeably a significantly happier person.  One of the unavoidable difficulties when transferring—especially to or from a bachelors in fine arts—is the transition and acclimation to a new school, and determining where exactly it is you fit in.  When I got to UArts, I was very insistent on being thought of as a sophomore, and constantly introduced myself as a transfer so as not to be thought of as a freshman.  I wanted to be treated like the other sophomores, with the assumed experience of already having completed a year of college.  My search to find a place in the UArts community was difficult and confusing because I was split between years in class-specific and major-specific courses (some freshman, some sophomore), and was granted assignments in the theatre season that were very time-consuming and demanding.

I was never told when I was expected to graduate or how I was supposed to proceed with the earning of my degree, so I worked as hard as I could in order to best keep myself on track. Thankfully, though, UArts has been more accommodating than many other institutions in this area.

Approving my transfer credits was nothing short of a nightmare, but I’ve continued to advocate for myself in appealing my transfer credit evaluations.  I am lucky, though.  This very well may be the only BFA program that doesn’t make a student entirely start over upon transferring, and for that I am so, very grateful.

While this may seem negative, I’ve come to think of my experiences in this area as incredible times of learning and growth that are so, truly specific to the transfer-student life.  Whether you went to NYU and moved to a community college, went from a state school to Harvard, or Purchase to UArts, your experiences are valid.  Please, don’t fall into the deep hole of comparison.  Be happy for your friends and classmates who are graduating now, and look forward to continuing your education.  Be grateful and recognize privilege.  Work hard.  Love learning.  You will have your time soon, and it will feel even sweeter once you look back at all that you’ve accomplished and how much you overcame as a transfer student.

As my friends from home (virtually) receive their diplomas, I am on track to graduate in December of this year.  I’m not graduating late, I’m graduating on time.  On my time.  Everyone’s paths to success, happiness, and fulfillment look different, and I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family to help me get there with an extra six months.  Everything happens for a reason.  Congratulations to the class of 2020!

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