A lot of people wonder why it is that I transferred from Nova to FIU to complete my master’s degree, particularly because people aren’t too thrilled about completing their graduate degree in the same university where they completed their undergraduate degree. I have to admit that I did not attend FIU by choice, but rather, because I had serious family issues occurring at the time. Thankfully, one of the people who was ill survived. However, I did undergo a terrible death in the family. It wasn’t an ideal time to leave my family. For many years, I resented the fact that I didn’t go somewhere different because I spent my young adulthood under the watchful supervision of an older generation. While my friends from high school were partying it up out of state until 3:00 in the morning, my grandmother was calling me by midnight to ask where I was and when I was coming home.
When the opportunity presented itself in graduate school to leave, I saw the heavens open up. It was like I was getting a second chance to live a time of my life that I never had the opportunity to live. For the first week, I was ecstatic. I was a little famished, because I hadn’t started working yet within my graduate assistantship. I lived off of Starbucks and a bag of candy that I kept under my bed. But, I felt a breath of fresh air because I had my own space. The high didn’t last very long… and it wasn’t because I didn’t like being alone. In fact, I sometimes appreciate my solitude. I was just incredibly unhappy with the environment and with the school, overall. So, if you are considering going to Nova, or considering moving to Rolling Hills, the objective of this article isn’t to discourage you, but rather, to enlighten you and help you make a decision that best suits you. I wish I would have had this information when I was in the process of making a choice. My decision to go to Nova was sporadic. The deadline to FIU had already passed and I already knew I didn’t want to go to the University of Miami because I would have been in the same predicament… living at home and spending money that I don’t have. I never had the opportunity to sit back and take a closer look at schools around the country. But, this time, I didn’t want to wait. I really just wanted to go. I hated my job at the time and my only way out, which ensured me a job, was graduate school. My program (higher education), often gives students the opportunity to work in graduate assistantships. I figured that if I didn’t get one of these, I could at least get a student job, even if it didn’t offer the same benefits. I was very fortunate to have gotten a graduate assistantship, which I really have no regrets about. I enjoyed my time working there as an employee. But, I can’t say the same about being a student at the university.
The living conditions in the dormitory were very poor. The air conditioning wouldn’t go past 73, and during summer in South Florida, I find that to be very cruel. I could barely sleep because I was drowning in a pool of sweat. The walls were paper thin, leaving me to hear everything that went on in other people’s rooms. Due to the fact that there was no circulation in the air vents, a potent smell was always present. Having worked in housing and done room checks, I can attest that this was a constant issue. As a college graduate in my early 20’s, the last place I imagined myself living was in an environment like this. I wasn’t even picky about size. The room I slept in was about the size of a jail cell with a small window. But, this barely bothered me. Rather, it was the quality of living that really ruined that experience for me. Coming from FIU, I was absolutely spoiled when it came to food. I always had a variety of options. But, at Nova, I had about three, and they were all usually not very good. The food often made me sick. I would think twice about eating the chicken from there. Just saying. Not a good experience.
I left the building in search for an apartment in the area. While the prices were skyrocketing, I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to live in a place that smelled like mold and I didn’t want to eat bad chicken. But, I was having second thoughts about paying for an apartment because the school, itself, was not a place I was sincerely happy at. I took 2 classes at FIU that summer to determine if transferring was actually something that I wanted to do. I fell in love with those courses because they actually took into consideration the profession that I was working toward. FIU’s higher education program trained practitioners, not researchers. I realized very quickly that this is what was missing. It even offered a special certificate in exactly what I wanted to do: academic advising. When I received my letter of acceptance, I cried of joy. I enjoyed writing my papers, conducting research, and reading theories of the profession. What Nova was missing was the component that appeals to a practitioner… and descent food.
I’m glad that I had that experience because it showed me that I didn’t really miss anything by not attending a different school during my years as an undergraduate. I had fun, I went to fraternity parties, I drank beer, I joined clubs, and I excelled academically. Had I gone to any other state school, I would have had the same experience… just in a different bedroom and most likely not on a temperpedic mattress with beautiful animals. For years, I hated myself for not having made the choice to leave. But, after my experience at Nova, I really don’t see my experience in college as different from anyone else’s. In reality, my grandmother would have been calling me either way, whether I was in Gainesville, Tallahassee, or Miami. That experience also made me appreciate my grandmother even more because I realized that she’s honestly the best person in the entire world.
If you take anything out of this article, I hope it is the following:
- There’s nothing wrong with leaving your hometown if the opportunity for something better comes along. But, don’t feel that you need to do it to prove anything to anybody. Do it because you want to and because the pros outweigh the cons.
- Parents: you have to realize that the role of an adult child changes if he/she is still living in the home as a college student. You have to respect his/her privacy and ensure that they have a quiet space to study.
- Dorm life is really not all that it is hyped up to be. It is an experience that I don’t discourage you from trying. But, don’t be disappointed if it’s not what you think it is. It’s really just living in a jail cell. It’s a bridge between living with your parents and living on your own.
- FIU has way better food than Nova (lol)
- Examine graduate programs before making any hasty decisions