I thought I loved taking risks until I considered transferring to a new university.
I’m obsessed with the thrill of diving out of planes, bungee-jumping off bridges, and moving to foreign countries. Even though I’m often alone out there, I rarely feel afraid. I’m a self-described adrenaline junkie — the edge is where I feel most alive. However, the idea of giving up one university to go to another was terrifying; conquering the fear of danger was nothing compared to facing the fear of regret.
I was happy at my last university. Really, I was. I’m someone who can be happy anywhere, and USC, in particular, had a lot to offer a small-town, suburban kid like me. I’d been chasing the “American college experience” for as long as I can remember. Although I knew this idyllic vision was more a reflection of the environment I grew up in than an innate desire, I tried my best to identify with it. I convinced myself that I “fit” best in an international business program, so didn’t go looking beyond the borders of that conventional ideal. Instead, I maintained an optimistic outlook on the college campus bubble, the lecture-based classrooms, and the ever-increasing tuition costs.
Ignorance felt like bliss… until I heard about Minerva.
I’d be studying on a campus in Hong Kong right now, preparing for my Junior year in Italy, if I hadn’t found a more fulfilling path. I know that scenario may sound exciting, but it falls short of how I feel right now, here in my first year at Minerva with 160 classmates from 50 different countries. We live in the heart of downtown San Francisco and will move to six different cities around the world, over the next three years. Real life happens outside the bubble of a college campus, and Minervans experience its stimulating challenges for ourselves — from handling deceptively simple tasks, like making our own food to addressing complex problems with major companies and organizations, like Google and 500 Startups.
Minerva’s seminar model has pushed me even further out of my comfort zone. With a flipped classroom approach, engagement is not just rewarded, it’s required. At any time during class, I might be called on to defend a position I don’t agree with, or build upon a peer’s perspective. Furthermore, constantly seeing the faces and reactions of my professor and the other 19 students in class has dramatically improved my audience awareness and communication skills. Minerva’s classes definitely keep me on my toes, which is something I’ve learned to appreciate after experiencing the reality of college lectures.
Like Minerva’s other transfer students, I’m glad I decided to come here, but it wasn’t an easy choice. In fact, it was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made because it felt like a true leap of faith. I was jumping into the unknown, hoping for something better, while leaving so much behind. How could I possibly give up a degree from not just one, but three well-regarded institutions? How could I leave people who were going to be lifelong friends? Did I take out $15,000 in student loans for nothing?
But if I hadn’t chosen Minerva, I would have sacrificed the opportunity to contribute to something I believe in: the realization of a university that actually puts its students first. At the end of the day, I learned that major decisions are never really about what we want to do, they’re about who we want to be. I’m proud to be a person who doesn’t settle. If your current university can’t support who you are, or help you become who you want to be, is it really worth staying there? If, like me, your answer is “no,” I implore you to seek out other educational opportunities that will help you fulfill your goals.
Minerva isn’t the perfect school for everyone, but I encourage you to apply if you think it might be right for you. Staying true to who you are is well worth the risk.
Minerva Class of 2020