Second Time Around: What the Heck? I’m Actually a Brown Student


What is life really like as a transfer? Join me as I figure out the answer to this question! My name is Rachel Gross and this is my Second Time Around.

“Oh, well I’m a sophomore, but this is my first year here.” The aforementioned phrase has been my go to response for the past few weeks as I make introductions, meet new people, and take part in the ever popular ice breaker rounds. And how is that a thing, you might be asking yourself? Well let me make another introduction. Hello. My name is Rachel, and I am a transfer student.

A world of students exist who take a leap of faith into transferring to another college after not finding themselves satisfied or fulfilled at their previous institution. Some make the switch due to a want for more education; some find themselves somewhere new due to social groups or atmospheres; some just want another chance at starting fresh in their educational journeys. I am one of these students for more than one of those reasons. If you are interested to know more about my college background, please do keep reading. I am a Florida native, born and raised in the sunshine state (and yes, the cold is already a struggle for me. Can anyone say layers?). I graduated from high school always knowing I wanted more in life, wanted to attend a college out of my home state and work towards my future goals. However, due to circumstances, I attended a small community college in my hometown for my freshman and sophomore years and made the most of my time there.

There always existed a little voice in the back of my head, whispering “keep the grades up, work hard, get out.” I enjoyed my time there but knew that something else existed out in the world for me. I wished for a place where students wanted to learn, where everyone had passions and goals to work towards, where the environment was supportive and encouraging. I began to apply for transfer in the spring of 2016 and didn’t turn back. Of course, the fears were always present in my mind. Did I really want to start new and be a “freshman” again? Would I be able to find a niche later in my college life? What is living in a dorm and using community bathrooms actually like? Yet the thought of being able to further my love for education at a new university was what made it impossible for me to not try. And here I am today, writing as a student blogger for Brown. So let me make another introduction: Hello, my name is Rachel and I am a Brown University student. That is still the most surreal thing to say. I made it. I’m here. Now can someone please tell me where to get good snow shoes?

Transfers are a hard to classify group. We are the ones who are technically first year students but technically not. We are the ones that look age appropriate to not be freshmen and know where the heck the Sharpe Refectory (aka the Ratty) is when in fact we are just as clueless as they. We are the ones to question whether shopping period is necessary because our last schools had no such thing yet we survived. But we are also the ones who were brave enough to pack up and leave, become first years once again because we knew our last schools were not for us. We are the ones who recognized more exists out in the world for us to be sitting unhappily in our previous destinations.

The responses to my introductory phrase have been varied. Some find the idea fascinating while others find it strange. Yet I have been welcomed onto this campus with open arms. I feel this to be true for the whole of the transfer community. People may not fully understand why we have switched schools, why we have moved to another campus after beginning the journey elsewhere. However, everyone is welcoming. I have never experienced so many incredibly kind and insightful people as here on this very campus. Maybe for some transfers, that is exactly why they took the leap: to feel welcomed and wanted, to feel a part of something greater. I cannot speak for the whole fall transfer group, but I can speak for myself in saying that Brown University is so open and encouraging to the world of transfers. Are you interested in this process? You should be.

Thank you so much for reading! Questions? Comments? Simple hello? Please feel free to email me at or leave a comment below!


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