Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Confessions of a Transfer Student: "Am I ready for this?"

9/10/13 - Am I ready for this? 
by Derya Demirtas

Even though I’ve already been at Amherst for a week now, I still feel this nagging notion that one of the admissions’ officers is going to come up to me one day, and regretfully inform me that they made a mistake with my acceptance letter.

“Are you Derya Demirtas?” they’ll say to me.


“Oh, yeah, we’re so sorry, but we meant to accept the other community college student from New Jersey. You didn’t really think you were meant to be here, right?”

Even though this situation hasn’t happened yet, I still feel it is inevitable. This must have been a mistake, right? There’s really no other explanation. I mean I don’t feel like I’m smart enough to be here.

My orientation experience has included interacting with all the other incoming students, including not only other transfers, but also the freshmen. Everyone here on campus is extremely nice and friendly, but it’s almost impossible to not feel intimidated by everyone’s intellect.

Every time I hear the freshmen talking about their SAT scores or how many APs they took, I can’t help but to think back on my own high school experience. I did okay in high school, but I was never a stellar student. 

High school Derya would never have been accepted to Amherst. How did Transfer Derya make it here?

I’ve been having so many doubts about my own abilities. How am I going to be able to even survive my classes here? Am I even going to be able to pass? Will the rigor of the courses be too much for me? How will I manage all my readings?

When it came time to meet with my advisor for registration, I was so hesitant to even look at any upper-level courses. I became adamant on only picking 100-level classes. Never mind that I had spent the past two years at community college exclusively taking only 100 and 200-level courses, I felt I needed to retake these similar courses.

I didn’t think I was prepared for Amherst. But, I was finally comforted after meeting with my advisor at Amherst because it, surprisingly, reminded me so much of my meetings with my advisor at my community college.

When I walked into her office, she greeted me warmly and immediately asked how my brother was. This was my first time meeting her, so I was initially taken aback by how she knew I had a brother. Was she a mind reader?

However, I was quick learned that she had taken the time to read my entire file of the essays I wrote during my application process.

My conversations with my professors at my community college were always on this similar personal level: I was always able to connect with them because of our small class sizes. And here I was at Amherst experiencing the same thing.

When we finally got to the topic of the courses I should take for fall, she didn’t even flinch in recommending to me the upper-level courses

I told her how I wanted to take a remedial writing course. She reminded me that she had read my writing, and assured me that the course was unnecessary.

My advisor didn’t even know me aside from what she had read about me, but she instilled confidence in me. 

She was genuinely interested in hearing about my community college experience and asked about my prior professors. She told me how transfer students were usually the best students in a class. She took careful consideration of my interests and collaborated with me to plan my academic path at Amherst to my advantage.

I left my meeting with determination. Amherst won’t be exactly like my community college. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take what I’ve learned from my community college to my benefit. 

In my advisor’s office, I had the epiphany that the secret to being a successful student in college doesn’t have anything to do with the success or lack of success I experienced in high school. I’ve already handled college coursework; I just need to apply the same methods again.

I’m still unsure of how I will handle my first day of classes at Amherst or how prepared I am for the rigor, but I have a drive within me to make the most of my experience here. Even if the admissions committee made a mistake, they don’t have to regret it. 

Derya Demirtas is a New Jersey native, coffee addict, and recent graduate of Sussex County Community College. She served as President of her college's Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Alpha Upsilon Pi, & has recently transferred to Amherst College as an English major.

She's currently serving as a member of the 2013-14 Pearson Student Advisory Board. You can follow her on twitter @deryabdemirtas or email her at ddemirtas16@amherst.edu.

Previous Confessions of a Transfer Student articles:
8/13 - "I'm so Nervous!"
8/20 - "Freshmen Only?"

8/27 - "How Whitney Houston Helped me Pack"
9/3 - "My First Day"

Keep up with the Confessions of a Transfer Student series on Facebook!

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