The process of transferring to another university can be challenging and nerve-wracking on its own. The added craziness that comes with living through a global pandemic doesn’t ease the stress.

At the end of my senior year of high school, I had committed to the University of Washington (Seattle), and while I was excited to go to college and start a new chapter of my life, UW was not my end goal. With my heart set on attending the George Washington University, I worked hard towards fully immersing myself in my freshman year of college. An immersion that was cut abruptly short after an extended Spring Break turned into the start of a global pandemic and a long process of virtual learning.

Being a student at the University of Washington meant attending the first university to make the decision not to return to campus after Spring Break. The second half of my freshman year was filled with learning how to succeed in a virtual environment back at home- a sharp contrast to the late nights at the library and frequent study groups I’d grown accustomed to at UW. It also meant that the final leg of my transfer process was done from home. Back to residing in my childhood bedroom, I worked to create relationships with professors virtually and managed a surge in emails as I sought a letter of recommendation at a university level. This was such a different process than it had been in high school, where I had been able to reach out to the teachers who had known me over the course of four years, the professor I asked for a transfer recommendation had known me for a single semester. Fortunately, application essay writing was pretty universal between transfer applications and freshman applications.

As the beginning of the summer neared, my decision letters arrived (with great results!). After being accepted to all three schools that I had applied to transfer to, the decision came down to the college offering me the most financial aid: George Washington University.

Now, I am entering my second semester at GWU, continuing online learning due to the continuing concerns and health conscious environment caused by COVID-19. Virtual learning brings its challenges, especially as a transfer student. It is harder to meet and form close friends while not being able to grab a coffee after class or form study groups with like minded peers. The silver lining, however, is that I have found that GW students are creating class-wide agreements to help one another– a cultivation of community I am so glad is taking place. This past semester I have worked in student-made groups to proofread one another’s essays and oftentimes groups of peers will meet over Zoom to quiz each other before exams.

Attending school online- especially as a new student- can be incredibly difficult, but everyone is facing some of the same struggles and it is through compassion and kindness that we can make these circumstances work.

– Kayla


Kayla Damian is a sophomore at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and is double majoring in Public Policy and Criminal Justice with a minor in Law and Society. Kayla has worked with Cultivate Academics for over three years now. She has gained the Cultivate experience both as a student applying to college and now as an intern, mostly working with social media, marketing, and team management!