The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday September 27th

Column: How it feels to be a transfer student during COVID-19

<p>Brooke Dougherty writes for the opinion desk at The Daily Tar Heel.&nbsp;</p>
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Brooke Dougherty writes for the opinion desk at The Daily Tar Heel. 

Imposter syndrome: feelings of self-doubt, uncertainty and wondering if you’re in the right place at the right time. These are all normal feelings that we transfer students may be feeling right now amid the transition to a new university. 

I knew it would be difficult, but I never imagined I would be going to a new school during a global pandemic. I have moments where I feel like I do not belong. I know I’m not the only one who is struggling with imposter syndrome, especially now, when a lot of students are feeling out of place. Everything just feels odd and up in the air. 

I was looking forward to finally have a “real” college experience. COVID-19, however, has made it even harder for me to settle in, find friends and a community and become acquainted with my new school. 

My academic experience has been different from the get-go. After high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I got my cosmetology license. After working in a salon, however, I decided I wanted to pursue a degree so I could use my writing to make a difference. 

I have always loved academics, but deciding to start at page zero wasn’t an easy decision. It caused me to often feel behind my peers. I chose to complete my first two years at Wake Technical Community College, because it was a better match for my finances. There is a lot of stigma surrounding community colleges, and I originally felt a little embarrassed, but Wake Tech was an amazing experience and I thrived. 

But there was always the occasional comment demeaning my experiences. Even close friends would make casual remarks diminishing my accomplishments, not meaning to be hurtful. I didn’t let it get to me, and soon, my dream became to transfer to UNC. I was beyond thrilled when I received my acceptance letter. I remember sitting down to attend virtual orientation during the first week of August, hopeful of what was to come. Doubt crept back in when, during orientation, someone told us our previous straight As would be Cs at UNC. 

I moved to Chapel Hill in late May so I would be able to get a head start on settling in and finding a job. At the time, when classes were still going to be partly in person, I found an apartment that was close enough to be able to walk to campus. 

I am no exception to the rule — it has taken me almost two months to begin to feel like I belong here. This experience has been an opportunity to learn and grow. By slowly implementing better habits, I have been able to work on my self-confidence, mental health and overall well-being. 

Sticking to a schedule helps add structure to an otherwise chaotic time. I’ve taken the time to familiarize myself with Chapel Hill by walking around and visiting new coffee shops (all with a mask, of course). I try to study outside more on the quad, to get fresh air and to be away from my room. 

Something else I’ve found to be helpful is not being afraid to speak up and ask the “stupid” questions. Chances are, you aren’t the only one who is struggling. I know that Zoom classes are no substitute for face-to-face interaction with fellow students, but I’ve been able to connect more with classmates by making group chats for various classes. 

Fellow transfer students: I know a lot of us are feeling discouraged and wondering if this is the right time to be transferring, but we have come this far. Maybe our journey looks a little different, but that does not mean it is any less important. We were not admitted to UNC by mistake. We worked for this — and we should be proud of who we are and what we have accomplished. 

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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