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My Transfer Journey and Why It’s Okay to Transfer Colleges

Wooden Scrabble tiles sit on a grey slate. A white feather lays to the left of them and a metal instrument lays to the right. The letters spell "SHIFT HAPPENS"

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

I’ve had college plans set for myself since I was nine or ten. With performing arts, you have to start early and have a plan.

The better prepared I was from a young age, the better off I would be in the college audition process, or so I thought. I remember compiling a Google docs table of 25 schools and beginning research for the prescreen and audition requirements.

For those of you not in performing arts, the college acceptance rate for musical theatre is 2-5% on average. You have video auditions that get approved or rejected, called prescreens, and if they’re approved, you’re invited to audition in person.

You typically go through the decisions process three times: academic, prescreen, and artistic. Once I had my list, I worked with a team to film prescreens, sent in all my applications, and waited.

I was invited to 20 out of 25 live auditions, most of which I ended up being rejected from. I luckily got acceptances into 1/5 of my schools – a pretty good average for musical theatre. I then had to make a decision. 

I weighed my options, did some research, and eventually committed to the University of the Arts in April 2020. This school had all the “right” things – a city atmosphere, reputable alumni, a comfortable distance from home, and a blossoming Philadelphia theatre scene.

My first year was online due to the pandemic and I wasn’t able to audition in person or even visit my campus. My first year felt off and I had gut feelings it was the wrong place, but I chalked it all up to being online.

I was really excited to move to in-person learning but almost immediately felt out of place. Without getting too detailed, I was in a very toxic situation while dealing with a newly diagnosed chronic illness and not happy learning about what I thought I wanted.

I came to realize that I wanted to pursue theatre education and musical theatre, so I needed to find a place that suited both of my academic needs.

How and Why to Transfer to a Different College

I made the decision to transfer in late September, and it was one of the most nerve-wracking decisions I’ve ever made. The anxiety I felt surrounding other’s reactions to my news trumped the relief I felt in my decision.

The news of my transferring was met with a mixed bag of questions, judgment, and support. I was afraid some would see my decision to transfer as “giving up” on musical theatre or as admitting that I couldn’t make it/wasn’t cut out for it, and some definitely do think that.

I always viewed transferring as the “weaker” option, which is an extremely close-minded view, but that stemmed from not wanting to let anyone down. I received tons of support from my parents, friends, and family once I was transparent about my reasoning.

From a very young age, I always remember my Mimi talking about the college process and how it was always an option to transfer. She always encouraged me to find a place better for my needs if they weren’t being met and said that transferring was always okay.

I value my Mimi’s opinion more than anyone else’s, yet I still carried this stigma with me that transferring was a cop-out or a way of giving up. I never thought I would be one to transfer, yet here I am.

I guess my point here is that transferring is really okay, even if you once shared that “transferring is bad” view. If your needs are not being met, it’s more than reasonable to look for a place that meets your needs.

You don’t have to justify your transfer process or reasoning to anyone; you don’t have to explain it unless you want to. You don’t need to have a “good” reason to transfer, either.

Of course, financials come into play and other things that may involve your family. Maybe it’s too far from home or you may just know it’s not the right place.

Your main focus should be finding the place best suited for you, especially if you started your college process in the middle of the pandemic. Allow yourself some grace when it comes to the possibility of transferring.

Allowing myself to be open to transferring has given me my freedom and strength back. I can only hope that if you’re in a similar situation, you let go of what you’re “supposed” to do and do what’s best for you, especially if that means transferring.

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Author: Grace Kelly Kretzmer

Grace Kelly, yes that's her first name, is currently a prospective transfer student transferring from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She is adding on to her love of musical theatre by choosing to find a school that fosters her love of musical theatre with her passion of directing & theatre education. Updates to (hopefully) come soon! @gracekellykretzmer