So when Bell applied to UNC-Chapel Hill and was waitlisted, she decided to attend UNC-Greensboro.
She said heading to Greensboro seemed like a good escape.
"I wanted to get away from the town and from my parents," she said.
But Bell wasn't quite ready to let Chapel Hill go.
She transferred back to UNC-CH this fall after two years at UNC-G.
Bell said she admired UNC-CH's reputation, which ultimately drove her to change schools.
"I loved UNC-G; I fit in really well. But in the long term, Carolina has the academics," she said.
"If I wasn't here, I wouldn't have the opportunities I will have in the future."
She added, "I'm a Tar Heel born and bred, so it wasn't much of a challenge coming here."
It's like starting over as freshmen for Bell and the other 700-some transfer students who are beginning their first semester at UNC-CH this year.
Another transfer student, sophomore Mandy Helton, attended Wake Forest University for one semester but made the move to UNC-CH because she realized it was the right school for her all along.
"When I was little, I wanted to come here.
"But in high school, so many people were coming here that I wanted to do something different," she said.
"It was like I always knew the right place for me, I just didn't pick it right away."
Just as freshman test the waters to find their niche at college, transfer students also need to figure out where they belong by taking part in programs like Fall Fest and the Transfer Student Orientation Program.
Bell, a junior political science major, noted that there were so many organizations recruiting at Fall Fest that she felt optimistic about finding activities she would enjoy.
"UNC-G is smaller and not as many things to do," she said.
"People are a lot more active here."
Helton also found the transition into Chapel Hill easier because she already had some friends here.
"My best friend recruited me, and he showed me a good time at Chapel Hill," she said.
"Wake is really isolated -- either you go to frat parties or you have nothing to do. There's more to do than just party here."
Senior Pete Jung, who transferred from the University of Maryland, said TSOP helped him feel more at home.
"I met a lot of my friends at orientation," he said.
Jung said transfer students either love UNC-CH or hate it because some students are just not able to find their niche or they are not accepted into the programs they applied to.
Although UNC-CH tries to make transfer students feel at home through orientation programs and social events, Bell and Helton both expressed a wish for more outreach to transfer students in terms of housing.
Upon entering the University, all transfer students are forced to find housing on their own. They often resort to living together in off-campus apartments.
Bell asked to be put on a waitlist for on-campus housing, and she managed to get housing on North Campus because other students canceled their housing contracts.
For Helton, it was difficult to meet people outside of the friends she already had because she didn't have on-campus housing.
"It's really hard to start first semester without a nucleus of people that you have in a dorm," she said.
"It would be really good if they could get housing, because it's daunting if you don't know anybody."
Despite the obstacles they and other transfer students have had to face, Bell, Helton and Jung said they do not regret transferring to UNC-CH.
Bell said, "An opportunity to come here is one that no one should give up."
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