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The Vine: April 28, 2000

Submitted by on April 28, 2000 – 7:50 PM3 Comments

Dear Sarah,I know you aren't a guidance counselor but I feel I need an objective opinion from someone who has no stake in the matter.I attend a reasonably prominent Jesuit university (I'm just finishing my sophomore year). The education is good, and it's close to a city that I love. I have friends, and my major looks promising. The problem? I think I'm basically convincing myself to be happy here. I can't remember what possessed me to come to a conservative, Catholic university, when I'm decidedly liberal and decidedly not Catholic. How could I know I was going to end up at a place where people wear full makeup and high heels to 9:00 classes? I thought college was supposed to be about growing as a person, but instead I feel like I'm constantly insulating myself against the world around me. The majority of the students here fit into that stereotype I grew to hate so much in high school. They're wealthy, good-looking, and perky. They listen to Dave Matthews like it was religion. The drink themselves into oblivion like it was the only way to have a good time. I thought I'd spend college roaming bookstores, seeing art films, and bonding with all of my fascinating new friends at quaint little coffee shops, while we discussed politics, life, literature, whatever. I know, I've seen far too many movies, and my illusions are silly, but this place is like the opposite of all that. So far I haven't transferred because the only place that I can see myself starting over would be the state university. Two of my best friends go there, and I visit them often, and the atmosphere is just so much more laid-back.

The problem is that I fear it would be a step down. My family has put a lot of money they barely have into this great education of mine, and I don't know if a degree from State U would have the same effect as the one I'm heading for. It's shallow, and I know that I'm supposed to be in college for the growth experience, but I don't want to transfer for the wrong reasons. This is the rest of my life we're talking about, compared to two more years. How important is your social college experience, anyway? I'm not totally miserable, I just know I could be happier somewhere else. My grades are terrible here, because I'm lonely and bored. I feel like the only way I could transfer with any stability is if I could read the future, and they don't have a class in that here.

Is it selfish of me to gamble with my family's money, on the off chance that this other school would be the right choice for me? Should I just wait it out, and hope life begins after college?

Thanks,
Distressed and disillusioned

Dear Double Dis,

You don't like your current college, you aren't doing well scholastically, and your parents can probably better afford a state school in the first place. The end of sophomore year is plenty of time to know whether you'll learn to like – or at least get used to – the school, and you haven't and probably won't. Transfer.

The name on the diploma doesn't mean that much anyway. Take it from a woman who couldn't get arrested with an Ivy League degree – your grades and your prior job experience matter more to recruiters than your university's pedigree. Sit your parents down and tell them what you told me in your letter; I think they'll understand, especially when you point out that they'll get better grades for their tuition dollar if you attend a school you actually like.

Good luck.

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3 Comments »

  • Hala says:

    On the other hand…

    It sounds like DD might go to MY school. If not, she goes to one of its sister institutions, which are pretty much the same thing. Everything she's described about the place is dead-on correct, except for the fact that…what she wants is here. It just takes a little digging.

    Jesuit institutions are weird. On the surface they're conservative, superficial, overly-religious and full of dumb materialistic guidos. However, they also usually have wonderful professors who are so thrilled to have interested students that they'll move the earth for you. They also often have really prestigious graduate programs in various humanities departments, and said departments have a lot of wonderful events…and at a Jesuit school, rather than a big state U, it's a lot easier to get involved with the graduate-student and faculty world while still an undergrad. Before rushing off to another school which might, on the surface, be "cooler," DD should check out what's going on with the literature or poli sci departments at her current school, if that's what interests her. Another thing to think about is that Jesuit institutions often have some serious social-justice types, so if getting arrested at an SOA protest is her thing she could do worse than stay where she is.

    All I'm saying, is that it's really easy to stay in one's dorm room and say "everyone here is shallow but me!" And the undergrads at Fordham, or BC, or Loyola, or wherever you go, may seem desperately lame compared to the Sarah Lawrence types you see on MTVU, but rushing a transfer won't necessarily help if you aren't willing to make the effort to find like-minded people. Trust me, they exist… they're more likely to be in off-campus apartments, maybe, but they're here.

  • Y says:

    What's wrong with being wealthy, good looking, and perky? I bet there's a sizeable minority of people you'd have tons of fun with, but they are in the woodwork, like you are. Also, if you want to transfer, why not transfer to a place like Wesleyan, Bowdoin, or Vassar — it'll probably cost the same as your current institution, won't be a drop in prestige, and will be filled with the stereotypically unconventional people you're looking for.

  • Sars says:

    Hey, dudes — not to discourage you from commenting, but just a reminder: this letter is from seven years ago. Again, you're welcome to give your input on various older Vines and entries, but if you're wanting the author to read/benefit from it, just make sure to check the header date.

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