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Thinking of transferring colleges? It can be done – here are 5 things I learned

The worries and laundry list of questions began when I told my mother that I was transferring to New York University to finish my undergraduate degree. Where would I live? How would I be able to pay for the expensive college sticker price? But mostly, what would happen if I didn’t see my family for months at a time?

Coming from a tight-knit Cuban family, I wasn’t surprised this would happen. Before graduating from Miami Dade Honors College in 2012, I knew I wanted to leave Miami for my junior and senior year of college, but the latter questions were definitely on my mind.

Students are often discouraged about leaving home for college. Not only will it cost money to live on your own, but it is also harder to have to cook, clean, study, intern, sleep and find time for some sort of a social life.

I’m here to tell you, it is possible.


Monica Suarez, at left in striped sweater, with a group of other transfer students from Miami Dade Honors College. (Monica Suarez, at left in striped sweater, with a group of other transfer students from Miami Dade Honors College. Photo courtesy of Monica Suarez. )

As I wrap up my last year of college, I have jotted down some tips to encourage and possibly help students interested in transferring to schools away from home.

1) Do not be afraid of student loans

The first billing statement from the university is always the hardest to deal with. Coming from a college where I had a full scholarship, with money for books and supplies included, I nearly fainted when I saw my first installment. However, it is all about administrating your time and finances. Most loans give you nine to 10 months after you graduate to pay them off, but I started sending in payments since my first semester away from home . Sending money little by little while you are still in school not only keeps you from adding on to your loans (which happens to many people) but also starts to deduct from the final payment without accumulated interest. NYU is approximately $60,000 a year (a $120,000 total for my last two years) and by paying little by little I’m looking at $50,000 after graduation.

2) Go to the school that offers you the most opportunities for jobs/ internships/ or experiences

If you ask all students who have left home for undergrad why they left, you will always get the same response, “I left to get the college experience.” Most of us who want to go away to a party school and live our college years as fun as possible fail to realize that at the end of the four years, the real world begins. Bills must be paid, When choosing a school to transfer to, first think of your major, then go to a school that offers the most opportunities for jobs post-graduation. Personally, I am a broadcast journalism major. When going into the decision process I thought about the major news networks. New York was number one.

3) Look for ways to save a buck

Living at home, teenagers don’t really pay attention to how much money is spent on everyday items. Shampoo, toothpaste, paper towels, toilet paper — all things taken for granted by the modern-day college student. However, the minute you’re on your own, you are hyper aware that coupons, sales, and rewards programs are your best friends. To stretch out the buck away from home, keep an eye out for sales and other discounts for items you use on a daily basis and buy in bulk. Save coupons and other money-saving tools to better save money. Remember, it may be a dollar off but that’s a dollar that could be used on something else.

4) Stay connected to loved ones

One of the leading causes of students not doing well away from home is homesickness. The best thing you can do is stay connected. A strong support system coming from home is sometimes what students need to keep moving forward in their college careers. Between classes, studying, papers, and exams it is very easy for students to break down and this is when a phone/Skype call from family members really is appreciated.

5) Network

Transferring to a new school, one thing to keep in mind is to network.  Professors, classmates, and graduate students typically know people in your field who can connect you to possible jobs and internships. From the moment you transfer, start collecting business cards and emails from people you think will help you in your respective career, reach out to them and follow up. You never know what  opportunities are a click or phone call away.

Monica Suarez near her new college home, New York University (NYU).  Photo/courtesy of Monica Suarez

Monica Suarez near her new college home, New York University (NYU). Photo/courtesy of Monica Suarez

Monica Suarez, 21, is a senior at New York University double majoring in broadcast journalism and sociology. She is also an intern for NBC Latino.

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