Office of Public Affairs

USM Voices: Doors swing open for transfer student

Student Kathryn Letellier

Here at USM, we have many voices that make up our community. We're pleased to continue USM Voices - an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, alumni and more to share their thoughts about all things USM. This blog post is written by student Kathryn Letellier, who is a junior, political science major. If you would like to share a blog post with us for potential publication, please submit your blog idea here.

by Kathryn Letellier, USM Public Affairs intern

In the middle of my first year of college, I decided that I wanted to transfer.

I looked at and applied to schools and ended up choosing one in Boston. When I received my financial package, I was devastated. That institution offered me almost no financial aid, and I desperately needed it. I declined my acceptance. At that point, I didn't know what to do, and sophomore year was quickly approaching. I quickly realized that I had no college and nowhere to go for the following year.

I had no real prospects of what I might do, and being someone who has always had a plan and clear direction in life, a gap year was out of the question. Then, in June, I noticed USM had rolling admissions. In a spur of the moment decision I applied to USM. It didn't take long for me to get my acceptance, and from there on doors just kept on opening.

USM offered me a competitive scholarship and invited me into their honors program, things my former school failed to do for me. With the scholarship and financial aid offer, USM gave me the chance to be one of the few college graduates not overwhelmed by debt.

In early August I worked with an advisor to figure out what classes to take. I was stressed, transferring made me question all my life choices.  I felt as if this transfer was going to put me so behind that I'd need to decide quickly on a major if I still wanted to graduate in four years, which I so desperately wanted.

My advisor assured me that I didn't have to rush the arguably biggest decision of my life, what I would get my degree in, so I used my first semester here to explore USM's wide variety of courses. I got to take a class on botanical therapies; I never knew that my interest in plants' healing powers would be something I could study in an academic setting, but at USM it was.

My advisor was right to make me wait in choosing my major, and there really was no rush. Now settled into a Political Science major, I am still able to graduate on time, in fact I can graduate a semester early, though when it comes time, I'm not sure I'll want to.

My story is by no means unique at USM, there are plenty of nontraditional students and transfer students here, and that gave me a sense of belonging.

Thanks to the Gorham campus, USM can also provide the traditional college experience for those who want it. When I was 18 I thought I needed that "traditional" college experience of dorm life, but commuting didn't make me feel left out. I was still able to start a club and make friends in my classes.

USM has given me opportunities that I never would have expected.

I always thought you had to be in a big city to get an internship during your sophomore year, or you'd need to live on a campus to make friends and have fun. I didn't have to do any of that.

At USM I have been able to start my own club, have an internship in the Office of Public Affairs, mentor an ESOL student, join the student senate, and become an RA for my junior year.

USM really has changed my idea of what a college education is, and I can say that transferring to USM was the best decision I ever made.