We met with Isabella LoRe to discuss her transfer from Mount Holyoke to UNC, including her advice to other students who are considering transferring schools. Enjoy!
Isabella LoRe is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She transferred from a small liberal arts college to a large public university as an out of state student after realizing that her initial college didn’t provide what she wanted in a school. When transferring she looked for schools specific to her field of journalism that provided what she wanted in a university. She learned to adjust to a new lifestyle and find support at a larger university. Although she did not initially think she would want to go to a larger school, Isabella is now thriving at UNC Chapel Hill as she goes into her senior year. She felt alone throughout the transfer process, but is so thankful that she made the brave decision to transfer. Isabella now offers wisdom to other students considering transferring or currently going through the process to make it feel a little easier.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a number of highly ranked programs, a ranking based on the influence of their faculty and alumni:
To see more from Isabella, check out her YouTube channel.
(Editor’s Note: The following transcript has been lightly edited to improve clarity.)
Karina: Hi, my name is Karina Macosko from Academic Influence, and I am super excited for our guest today. I’m here with Isabella LoRe, and she is gonna be a senior at UNC Chapel Hill in the fall. And so I’m really excited to hear about your college process and your college journey. So just starting off to let people get an idea of what your thought process was going into application process, what were your top five universities that you were looking at, and how did you decide on UNC Chapel Hill?
Isabella LoRe: That is an awesome question. I was kind of all over the place with different schools I wanted to go to because out of high school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. So I’m actually a transfer student from my junior year, so this is my second year at UNC. And I actually had two years of college at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. So I’ve kind of been all over the place with that, but I think when I was applying to schools, I think one of my top schools I really wanted to go to was Boston University because I love the kind of urban environment. And I was kind of excited at the idea of having a big school, but I was also intimidated by that. [chuckle] So I looked at a lot of smaller, more like liberal arts kind of colleges and universities as well. I also looked at Smith College, obviously Mount Holyoke College, which I did end up going to for two years. And then I was also looking at some more lesser known universities, like I was looking at... Well, I almost went to Elon, which was also in North Carolina. So I think I was kind of all over the place with different places I was looking at, because like I said, I really didn’t know what I wanted, and it kind of took me going through college as a freshman and sophomore to kind of figure out what I actually needed from college. So that kinda led me to where I am now.
Karina: Wow, that is incredible. And yeah, sometimes it does just take a little trial and error because it is so hard to figure out what you want in a college and where you will best thrive. And so that’s kind of what our company does, is help people find what college is best for them. And so UNC Chapel Hill is obviously not a small liberal arts college, which is initially what you thought. And so how have you transitioned, I’m not very familiar with your first college, which is Mount Holyoke, right?
Isabella LoRe: Yes. Yes.
Karina: And so how did you find the transition from what I’m assuming was a smaller liberal art top college to UNC Chapel Hill, which is a huge public university?
Isabella LoRe: Yeah, I love that question so much, because if you had asked me when I was a freshman in college or even a senior in high school if I would think that I would thrive or really enjoy going to a school that’s like UNC, I would’ve said "Absolutely not. That’s really not for me," [chuckle] which I now know is completely wrong because I absolutely love it, and it’s turned out to be my absolute dream school. But thinking about the transition, it actually was surprisingly very seamless and went really well from me which I’m very grateful for. Because when I was selecting which school to transfer to, I just knew exactly what I wanted because I had the chance to identify how my old school wasn’t serving me, and so I was really specific about if I’m going to transfer, if I’m gonna take this leap, I need to know that it’s gonna be exactly what I need and have everything that I want. And yeah, I had no idea that I wanted to go to a big sports school in the South. I’m from New England. I identify as an introvert who has always, not really liked crowds, or I’m not really into sports or anything, but just the academics and the social environment and physical environment at UNC is the ideal school for me. It’s literally my favorite place. It’s a home for me now and I love it so much. So yeah, I would say the transition was surprisingly easy because I knew what I needed, which I’m very, very grateful for.
Karina: Wow, that is so good to hear, and I feel like your experience can give so much wisdom to other people. And so, first of all, do you wish that you would have gone to UNC straight off the bat, or are you kinda glad that you spent two years kind of like getting your footing, figuring out what you wanted?
Isabella LoRe: Oh, that’s a good question. I actually think about this a lot because, as you mentioned, I’m going to be a senior in college this year. And I’ve had a lot of moments where I’ve honestly been really sad because as I’ve said, this is my dream school, and I’ve only gotten to be here for a year so far. And knowing this is my last year, makes me sad ’cause there’s so much stuff I wanna do, there’s so many people I wanna meet and experiences I wanna have on campus. And I’ve thought about that question a lot, but honestly, I think that I never really would have ended up at UNC in the first place if I had thought about going there out of college, or excuse me, out of high school. I might not have gotten in. I don’t think I would even have applied because I didn’t think it was for me, so as sad as I am that I didn’t have that full four years that I think I really would have loved, I don’t think I would have gotten here in the first place, if I didn’t have my kind of all over the place journey. So I think I’m grateful for that in the long run.
Karina: Yeah, no, and that definitely makes sense. It all came around, it all worked out, and it all had a purpose. And so just walking through your transfer journey, because a lot of people talk about how to apply to college, but I feel like it’s kind of a different ball park when you’re transferring and like you said, you were very intentional about it. So did you only apply to UNC and you knew this is where I wanna go, or did you apply to a bunch of universities, or how did you go about even transferring?
Isabella LoRe: Oh, I love this question as well. I love talking about the transfer process, because when I was going through it, I felt like there was nobody out there who had the same experience as me, which of course is not true. As we know, there’s lots of people who have gone through the exact same journey and experience. So, I remember feeling really alone when I was going through it, so I love talking about it with people, and I love making content about it, because I feel like it just connects me with people who have gone through similar stuff. But I think that I definitely learned that applying out of high school is very different than the transfer experience, from what I experienced anyway. And the big thing that I went into it with was I was kind of, as I said, identifying how the school I was at wasn’t serving me and wasn’t giving me what I needed, and I decided that the biggest thing was that they didn’t offer the academics that I actually wanted. They didn’t have a major that I felt like really just fit me and fit what I wanted to be learning, and they didn’t have the resources to support me in that academic venture, so right now, I’m a public relations and advertising major, which is super fun. I really love it.
And so, when I decided I was going to transfer, I really looked into schools that specifically had really strong media programs/journalism, because I’m actually a journalism student, like I’m under the umbrella of journalism, which I also love. So, that’s really what I went into it with. So I only applied to schools that had good programs, and it just so happened that they were all kind of bigger or more like the university-type schools. So I applied to Boston University, UNC Chapel Hill, Syracuse, a bunch of those bigger schools that had really top, like world-renowned journalism and media programs. And it was really amazing, because I spoke about my passion for that field in all my applications and everything, and I ended up getting into every school except for one, which was so cool, and I just... That was such a great experience, and I was going to go to BU, because that had been a dream school for me since high school. But the financial package from UNC, as an out-of-state student, was so incredible, I was like, "Maybe I should look into this more." And the more I read about it and learned kind of like what that school environment was like, the more I fell in love with it, so that’s just kind of how that happened, which... Like you said, it all worked out in the end.
Karina: Yeah, yeah, and that is so good to hear. And a lot of it is like financial aid. We just talked to Jhaycee Barnes on here, and she kinda talked about her path with financial aid, and so that is so good that you can kind of speak to transfer students because... Yeah, like you said, not a lot of people talk about it. And so, kind of looking at UNC directly, you talked about how seamless your transition was, which is amazing. But even for people who aren’t transfer students, finding support at a larger university can be harder than at a smaller liberal arts school. So how have you kind of reached out to get the support you need, not only in transferring, but just being a student at kind of a larger school?
Isabella LoRe: Yeah, I love this, because that was one of the things that kind of scared me away from bigger schools and universities, because I thought that no one would really care about me in terms of the teachers and the professors and the other resources on campus, since it was so big. And I’ve actually found, in my personal experience anyway, that that was a misconception that I had, because the thing that I experienced when I was at this small liberal arts school, it was just a... There aren’t that many people, which obviously can be really good in some aspects, but if you have a specific problem or a specific background or experience and no one there can relate to that in order to help you through it, it can be really, really troubling and hard to get through without that support. And then also, just in terms of resources that the school had, and you know, unfortunately, everything comes down to money, as you said, with financial aid, that’s something I struggled with a lot, and the reason that I went to my first school was because I got almost a full package, and my family needed that.
So, that was my experience, and obviously, not everyone can choose exactly where they wanna go because of money, so I think it’s very important to talk about that. But at UNC, they have the resources, they have the departments that I needed to help me, like they have a transfer counselor person who I know on a personal level, who’ll email me specifically. I have my own librarian who helps me with my research projects, which is so, so fun. So I think that at both types of schools you can get that assistance if you need it, you can get that support. It’s just a matter of going out and finding it. But for me personally, I found that at a bigger school with more resources, they had the ability and the amount of people to actually come and find me and help me before I needed to kind of panic and find out... It myself, so, yeah.
Karina: That is so good to hear, and yeah, I think this perfectly emphasizes what we kind of try and put out here at Academic Influence, and that is not every school that is good for one student is gonna be good for another student. And so, some students may really thrive at a small liberal arts school. And for you, you seem to really thrive at a big public university, and so it all comes down to seeing within yourself what it is that you are looking for in a college. And so, thank you so much for talking with me. It has been so fun to hear about your journey and your unique experience, and I’m so glad that everything worked out. And so just last question, going into senior year, what are you gonna do? Like, what is on your to-do list this year?
Isabella LoRe: Oh my gosh, I just wanna participate in as many UNC traditions as possible, because a lot of schools have their own unique little things that they do, and I feel like I just wanna make as many memories around that as possible before I graduate, so I’m so excited.
Karina: That is so good, and I am North Carolina born and raised, so I have a lot of friends going to UNC next year, and so it is so fun. The school pride there is just incredible, and so I’m so excited to see all that you do in your last year, and yeah, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. It was really nice to meet you.
Isabella LoRe: Thank you, you too.