Transfer Talk Tuesday: Transfer Journey – Out of State 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Hi! My name is Kamilah. I transferred from a large state school across the country to the University of Southern California. I am a Transfer Ambassador for the 2021-2022 school year and a third-year transfer student studying Business Administration (likely to emphasize in Leadership and Innovation).  

Part One: Headed to USC…just kidding…unless | The Transfer Journey 

My journey to USC started in 2019 when I received the QuestBridge scholarship during my senior year of high school. If you are unfamiliar with QuestBridge, they are an organization that seeks to connect “high performing, low-income students with prestigious universities.” There were 16,248 people who applied for the honor and 1,044 were chosen to receive it – myself being one of them. Receiving this honor also meant that I had received a ‘full-ride’ for college. I was beyond honored to get this award. I remember the elation of myself and everyone around me who had helped me get to that point in my life. A full-ride to college had been my goal for the past four years, but finally attaining it became…bittersweet. My joy began to transition to anxiousness as I looked up and down the list of 40-something schools but didn’t feel truly called to any of them. To make a long story short, I am the kind of person who doesn’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. In the end, I basically voided my scholarship and traded the prospect of a full-ride to go to my local state university.  

I know. You’re thinking, “are you insane?” Everyone around me thought the same, and many didn’t hold back on letting me know it.  

Circling back, it was a few days after we had to submit our college decisions for QuestBridge when I realized there was a school on the list I had never seen before: the University of Southern California. How did I miss this? I had scrolled through that list some 50 times and I had never seen USC. I began researching it and I realized this is what I had been looking for. It checked off literally every box I had for the college I wanted to attend. I hurriedly looked up the USC application deadline and saw it was only a few days away. I scrambled together the best app I could over those next 72 hours, but, ultimately I was denied admission that year. I loved my state university, so although I was sad about USC, I moved forward. What’s meant to be will be, I thought.  

A while later, I learned about USC’s transferring options and I was excited but again anxious. I was beginning to no longer feel like my previous university was right for me anymore. I thought “What if I get rejected (again)? USC is very expensive; how can I afford it without QuestBridge? How will I afford to get across the country multiple times a year?” and many more doubts. I had so many worries – so many that I almost didn’t even turn in my application. If not for the encouraging words from my USC Admission Counselor, I probably wouldn’t even be here. Fast forward, I was accepted to USC a few months later during the summer after my Freshman year. I am currently in my third year and I am now on campus.  

Part Two: Wait, y’all have airports in Tennessee? You don’t travel on Horse-back? | Being an Out-of-State Student 

I grew up in Chattanooga: the third largest city in Tennessee, but nothing compared to the size and diversity of LA. If you’re like me, and you’re from a city that is not LA or NYC, you may get the odd “do y’all still use candle-lit lanterns for streetlights” type of statements. Such comments are few and far between (and often harmless), but if I do get them I just quickly let them know that “I do read by candlelight, but only for the aesthetic” and move on. The point of this is to tell you much of what is in LA is also back home, and vice versa. It may be one concern for people moving from one city to LA, especially if those cities’ cultures are vastly different. Of course there are some places special to you and your town (i.e. mine and my friends’ beloved pizza place called Mellow Mushroom). However, I also have a beloved pizza place here in LA –  Blaze (my friends here love it too).  

As a Transfer Ambassador, I hear that many transfer students worry about adjusting socially. My advice is to just be you and do you- that’s how you will find your people. There are so many types of people here, don’t worry about fitting one mold or another.  

Another concern may be travel time and airfare costs. Personally, there is little we can do to mitigate travel time unless teleportation becomes real. Until then, you’ll just have to carve out a day or two to travel. For me, the time I spend traveling to and from school to home is about 12 hours, only about 6 are spent in the air. It is honestly very tiring, so I recommend you give yourself a day or two to get adjusted – especially if you’re crossing time zones. Regarding cost, I try to buy my tickets as early as possible so that I can get a good price on airfare. I recommended not booking your flight until the day after the USC academic calendar ends. This will help you mitigate any ‘take-my-final-exam-or-fly-home’ conflicts in case anything happens that you did not foresee. This will also give you more time to pack!   

Part Three: Fight On | My conclusion + advice to future Trojans 

Many places like to talk about their ‘school spirit,’ but the Trojan spirit and family are some of the most formidable ones I’ve ever seen. I feel very welcomed and proud to be a Trojan. Trojan alumni truly want to see you win and USC puts so much effort in crafting us into well-rounded, supported individuals upon graduation. I feel like there is no tool available that USC doesn’t offer.  

Even while dealing with a global pandemic, I am glad that I took the leap of faith and  transferred to USC. The 12 hours of flight time is worth it, 10 times over. I would fly 24 hours straight if it meant that when I touched down, I got to be a Trojan. 

Written by Kamilah Jones, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying Business Administration.