Why I transferred to Southwestern
In my freshman year of college, I attended a university nine hundred and fifty miles away in Fort Collins, Colorado. I had dreamed of moving to Colorado since I was fourteen years old when my family took our first trip there to stay in a friend’s cabin near Rio Grande National Forest. After a few summers of visiting— I grew to love the crisp mountain air, the impossibly tall trees, and the down-to-earth people of Colorado. My heart was set on going to college in Colorado. So upon graduating, I bought a heavy-duty winter wardrobe. I kissed my family, friends, and cats goodbye, and moved to Fort Collins to start my freshman year of college in the fall of 2021.
I didn’t want to attend a large university, but Colorado State University was the most financially feasible option for an out-of-state student. Plus, one of my close friends from high school had decided to go there so attending CSU seemed like a good idea. Did my friend and I romanticize the idea of going out of state for college? You bet we did. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed living in Colorado for a few months— even on the days when the wind chill was in the single digits. I expected that the people at CSU would be completely different from the people I went to high school with, yet this just wasn’t the case. In fact, many of the people I met at CSU were more serious partiers than anyone I knew back in high school– that’s a state school for ya.
When I told other CSU students that I wasn’t going to the foot game, they would give me a blank look and say “but everyone goes to the game.” In a lot of ways, this was true. Football games are the pinnacle of social life at Colorado State but frankly, their team is not good. Now I sometimes take for granted the quiet, almost sleepy vibe of the SU campus. Every time that I wish that there were bigger events on campus—I think back to my time as a freshman at CSU when I had to park miles away from my residence hall because of home football games. My friend from home and I didn’t care about sports and weren’t interested in joining the large-scale Greek life experience. So we were left wondering how to have fun and make friends at a school centered around both of those things.
I decided to apply to Southwestern as a transfer student last year after I talked to several SU alumni about their experience. One thing came up repeatedly: the deep bonds that they were able to form with each other and their professors. Every single person I spoke to made some mention of the close connections they had made during their time at Southwestern. At CSU, I never cultivated deep bonds with professors or my classmates which is what I most looked forward to doing in college. Instead, I formed a large number of surface-level friendships and had little hope that my professors would even remember my name.
Southwestern may be small, but I would rather be on a college campus where I constantly see people I know than on a campus where most people are strangers. From my personal experience, it is much less intimidating and much easier to get to know the people sitting near you in a twenty-person classroom than in a lecture hall with over fifty people in it. Also, when in a smaller setting you have the chance to learn every single student’s name in the class and get to listen to the unique perspective they bring to class discussions.
But there are two things I miss about Colorado State that SU just can’t compete with. First off, the location is hard to beat. Fort Collins might just be my favorite town ever. It’s a happening place—-it’s about twice the population of Georgetown, full of college students, dive bars, and cozy coffee shops. Plus, you just can’t beat the hiking. The trails at Horsetooth Reservoir are just a few miles away and have some of the best views Colorado can offer. Georgetown’s Blue Hole Park simply can’t compete. Don’t get me wrong—Georgetown is cute but in a quaint, there’s-nothing-going-on-here-ever sort of way. I think the best thing about GTX is its proximity to ATX.
The bigger parties at SU undoubtedly take place in fraternity houses. At CSU however, for every Greek party, you can find two house parties that are probably more fun and just as big. Granted, they’re at least a ten-minute drive from campus to avoid noise complaints…but it’s nice to not have to rely on fraternities to throw a good party.
There is still a part of me that would like to be in Fort Collins, bundled up in a heavy winter coat, trudging through the snow to a coffee shop crowded with college kids. But at the end of the day, the crowded and impersonal feel of a state school isn’t for me. I’m happy to be at Southwestern because it’s a homey university with a close-knit community.