How do I deal with immense regret for not choosing another school?

Hey all. I don’t really post but this has been on my mind lately and has been driving me crazy. Pretty much I go to a liberal arts school in New York. I am a first year currently on my second term. During my admissions process, however, I turned down the University of Southern California because it was more expensive than my NY school. I thought I was being smart by choosing my NY college because its financial aid offer was too big to not pass and my parents losing their jobs during the pandemic made me want to pursue that school more, but I am regretting it immensely.

My college experience has not been ideal. I have made almost no friends, hate this location, and in general do not feel like I am at home at my current shool. Participating in school everyday has become a chore and both semesters I have just been counting down the days till the semester was over. This is most likely due to COVID but there is just nothing to do, also because it is in the middle of nowhere. I know the grass is always greener on the other side but I just think about how USC is a bigger school, how it must be easier to make friends, how it has a huge alumni network, how I love the location, and how its program for what I want to study is ranked higher than my current school. The more I research about potentially transferring, the more I want to pull my hair out for not choosing that school and the more I hate my current school.

I feel like it is one thing to go to a school because you were rejected but to know that you had the option to go to this school but you turned it down stings even more. How do I deal with this awful feeling as of now as it is too late to transfer for the next year?

First, the restrictions due to Covid should be lessened a bit this fall, at least for vaccinated students. This may help in terms of your ability to socialize and meet people.

However, if you’re really convinced you want to transfer, you have a two options. You can apply to enter as a junior, having saved 2 years of the cost differential. Or, you can take a gap year and apply to transfer in the next cycle. It looks like the transfer acceptance rate is about 20%.

A third possibility is that you look at schools that are still accepting applications or that admit students for spring term. For example, it seems like Notre Dame has an October deadline for spring term transfer admissions.

Good luck!

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Transfer if you can find an affordable alternative to your current situation.

Do not limit your transfer efforts to just one school as you should now better understand your preferences.

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Funny- the USC students I know wish they were somewhere else- LA was very heavily hit with Covid, the students are chafing at the restrictions given that so much of their lives could be carried out outdoors, they feel like going somewhere “out in the middle of nowhere” where you could have a semblance of normal college life would have been the better option.

You just don’t know if you’d have been happy there or not. For now- bloom where you are planted, try to slog it out. Next year is likely to be a much friendlier, less isolating experience.

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Here’s the thing- you chose not to go to USC for valid reasons that still stand. If you cannot afford a school, it doesn’t matter how much you love a school, how prestigious it is, or how perfect for you that you perceive it to be. You are making it harder on yourself to like anywhere else as long as you’re still holding onto a what-could’ve-been. Let USC go because it’s very doubtful that it would be more affordable as a transfer student. Once you allow yourself to move on from that disappointment, if you still don’t like your current school, you can/should look into transferring. Make sure you take care to apply to schools where you can genuinely see yourself thriving AND that you can afford.

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Circumstances do not define your college experience. You do. Circumstances may impact your college experience, but it is up to you to determine how to deal with them. You can let those circumstances be a positive or negative. You turned down USC for understandable reasons. It is now incumbent on you to make the most of your college experience.

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If you had gone there, how would you be paying for it with your parents having lost their jobs? Unless they had a lot banked to pay cash, they’re not going to qualify for loans with no jobs and you can’t get more than 5500 yourself, 7500 if a hardship (parents can’t get loans).

If your parents had the money banked, unless they had a ton, how would you feel knowing you drained their retirement? Would you commit to helping them significantly down the road? Could you? You don’t know what your situation will be either.

Some things just aren’t affordable. That’s life. It’s how the real world works for most people. You can mope around about it feeling sorry for yourself or you can look at pretty much any successful person in life and see how they got there, reading biographies. For most, when things didn’t go as well as they would have liked, they picked themselves up off the ground and made something out of what they had.

You’re fortunate enough that you still have an affordable option (not all students did). It’s really frustrating to be going during Covid as most colleges are doing far less, but vaxes should improve things a lot. Get involved as things open back up. Join clubs. Try something you’ve never done before in a club (one of mine learned to juggle - now juggles knives and fire!). Be thankful you’re not having large loans to pay off when you’re done. Do well in what you’re majoring in, search out internships or jobs to set you up for a great resume, and prepare to try for a job where you’d like to live, debt free (or at least far less debt if you have some).

Realize everyone has down moments in life even if all you see are the “good things” or the “front” they put on. It’s how people handle the down things that make such a difference in life. It’s called grit. You can go through life always feeling sorry for yourself and wondering, “what if” or you can have a great life knowing you made something for yourself even when conditions weren’t ideal. The choice is yours.

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I have a college sophomore, and two high school seniors, so I’ve been researching covid restrictions. Now is not a good time to assume the grass is greener at other colleges, most are still brown. The semester is almost over, hopefully fall will be more normal (although the colleges my twins have chosen seem to be having a lot of online classes in the fall based on the parent Facebook pages…).

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Frankly this past year at university has been lousy everywhere in the world because of the COVID pandemic. The social aspect of university is important, and has been almost entirely lacking. It has been hard to make friends. On-line learning is not the same as in class. In many cases labs have been closed. This is not just lousy, it is also a major psychological and emotional challenge for many students.

However, this is true everywhere. This is true at every college and university everywhere.

The financial consequences of losing a job are big. You cannot borrow enough money to go to a private university in the US, and when you graduate you will not want to have debt. Debt, particularly large amounts of debt, is a huge problem for recent university graduates.

My recommendation is that you get vaccinated, and know that things will be better in September when people are vaccinated and schools can get back to normal.

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My daughter is at a small liberal arts school in NE, and she loves her school. However, if she had to base her attitudes on how this year went, she would likely have similar feelings as you have. Having classes online, even though the students are on campus is a chore.

On the other hand, because it is in the middle of nowhere, there were many outdoor activities in which they could engage, and since COVID levels were really low in the county, there were many fewer restriction than at most other colleges. Well, at less fewer than at most other colleges which kept COVID levels in the school as low as theirs (some colleges had extremely high COVID levels among the students)

As others have said, it isn’t any better elsewhere, and often worse. My nephew is your age, is attending UCLA, and has not even been on campus, and had not met any of his classmates in person. USC has the same type of instruction as your college, but also had the LA restrictions. So USC may not be in the middle of nowhere, but there was absolutely nothing to do in LA, since everything was closed. So all of the disadvantages of living in a big city and none of the advantages.

As for making friends at USC - how? There are the same restrictions on social gatherings and social activities. Larger schools have fewer activities which are open to all students and which are aimed at getting students to know each other.

For some people it is easier to make friends at large schools, whole others find it easier at small schools. Most high school graduates do not know what is easier for them, since, for most, it has been years since they were required to build a social circle from scratch. Because so few of the classes are in person, and those which are in person are sparsely attended and people are masked, the most common way in which people make friends in college, in the classroom, is not available. That means other strategies are required, and this would be true at any college which you chose to attend.

Basically, your situation is not a good one, but it almost entirely sounds like it is the result of COVID, not the result of anything inherent in your specific college.

BTW, rankings are mostly meaningless, especially when comparing LACs to research universities.

My point is that you had a rough year, but I would wait and see what your college plans are for fall semester. If they are relaxing most COVID restrictions, as many will if their students and faculty are vaccinated, your next year will likely be a lot better. This is much more likely to happen in small LACs in rural areas than an colleges in urban areas.

To transfer to another college just to have the same experience is not a good idea.

Take care of yourself and try to enjoy the summer!

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