So…How Did I End Up Here? (Posted on behalf of Shana Frankel)

Scarlett Knights —> Raptors —> Terps —> Retreivers (kind of a weird mascot, no?)

This is the way my college experience has gone this far,  in terms of mascots. If you include summer classes, I am also a Jaguar. Go GPC! If one looks at my college track record this far on a piece of paper, he/she would probably be overwhelmed and confused. Instead, I look at it as one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

My senior year of high school, I applied just to Rutgers and Maryland, with the intentions of going to whichever one I was accepted into. Rutgers ended up being the winner of that, and I excitedly awaited my start there. I don’t want to bluntly state that I hated it, because I came out of that year with incredible friends, a year of life-changing experiences, and a quite (almost) perfect understanding the NYC subway system (a feat I never thought possible), but it was just not the right place for me.

Because of the ATL-UMD In State tuition deal, I felt a lot of pressure to transfer to UMD because paying out-of-state for school is a hefty expense, as everyone who is reading this knows. Throughout my first semester I never dwelled on the thought of transferring, but as Spring rolled around and I was less and less happy, the stress built up and finally exploded. Exactly two years ago from around this time, I got so mentally overwhelmed that my anxiety and panic took over. I had never had a panic attack before so I had no clue what was going on, and it resulted in me having to fly home and take some time away from school so I could sort out my thoughts and the situation. Upon returning to Rutgers, I tried to convince myself that maybe transferring wasn’t the best option. I had a few close friends at RU and a new boyfriend in NYC, so who cares if I’m not happy with the actual school? But I couldn’t live with this lie eating away at me for long.

At the very end of the semester, I got a phone call from a close friend at UMD who was planning on moving into a new apartment and needed a third roommate. She happened to call me to see if any of my friends were looking for a place to live. A crazy idea popped up in my head- I’ll take that spot. At this point, I had no plans of going to school in Maryland, but knew I didn’t want to be at Rutgers. It was too late to apply to the University of Maryland for the Fall of 2012 at this point, and to be honest I didn’t have the confidence that I would get in anyway, but I decided to take the place in the apartment because I knew that my mental health overruled my academics.

After finding a place to live, I found a transfer program through a local community college, Montgomery College. I quickly applied there, heard back, and then registered for my Fall classes. I had never seen this campus, driven in Maryland, or been in contact with anyone who had done it, but I went for it. This is the point where everyone asks if I was nervous about starting at a completely random school, and I replied by saying that I had not really given it any thought. This was true, I avoided letting the nerves get to me because no good would come from this.

MC ended up being one of the coolest and unique experiences I have had. I was just fulfilling CORE classes, since I knew I was would transfer out at some point. I was lucky enough to have really great professors, and I made two close friends that I never would have met otherwise.

I finally was accepted into UMD CP, but I kindly (and proudly) rejected. This MC experience exposed me to a perfect opportunity: a Bachelors in Social Work program through UMBC at Shady Grove.

I feel like it is necessary to share this story with people, because I learned so much about myself and life in general through it:

  • If you feel like something is not right for you, CHANGE IT. Most things are not permanent, and there is no reason one should be unhappy. I could have easily stayed at RU until I finally got into UMD CP, but instead I found this amazing program and got the chance to live in an awesome apartment surrounded by great people
  • It can often be extremely tempting to take the easy way out of a situation, but persevering through the difficult steps is usually where all the growth occurs
  • Community college can have a negative stigma, but realistically it is an incredible system. It is an affordable way to get a degree, be exposed to an extremely diverse group of people, and not end up in thousands of dollars of debt
  • Sometimes, you can have the best of both worlds. I am at a school that I love, that offers a unique campus experience, and pursuing my dream career; at the same time, I am extremely involved with the UMD Hillel and my social life is with all of the Maryland students
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