Sometimes “finding your fit” doesn’t happen right away.

And when it came to choosing a college, for UMD sophomore Nikki Carroll – who transferred to the University of Minnesota Duluth from a private school located in the Twin Cities in the Spring of 2016 – that was exactly the case.

Originally from Greenfield, MN, Nikki graduated from Delano High School in 2015. As a high-achieving and highly-involved student in high school, she had no problems getting accepted into college. She did, however, struggle with finding a college that not only challenged her academically but was a fit for her personally, too.

So after one semester at her original college choice – a college she feels would’ve helped her succeed as well as anywhere, but didn’t feel fit her well – she transferred up north.

Nikki’s favorite thing about Duluth is that the city has a surprisingly large nerd culture for a city that’s “small” compared to the Twin Cities metro area. According to Nikki, Duluth’s several comic book and gaming stores throughout the city are the perfect places for her and her friends go to trivia nights weekly. And she feels it’s an excellent way for her to bond with the friends she has as well as meet new people.

Her favorite thing about UMD? The number of ways she can get involved and meet new people on campus. Whether it’s through working on campus, joining clubs, or playing intramural sports, she met new people through these experiences and found some of her best friends through this. There are hundreds of ways to get involved and everyone here can find something that interests them.

At UMD, Nikki is double majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. And the fact that UMD has top-tier science programs made her decision to transfer that much easier.

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Nikki and fellow tour guide coordinator Whitney (right) working in the Admissions Visitor Center and taking a picture with UMD’s mascot, Champ!

What motivated you to transfer?
“I transferred to UMD because, after one semester at my previous, I felt like I’d fit in much better somewhere else. I had friends, good professors, and all the other experiences that typically make a student’s college experience awesome, but I still felt like I’d fit in better somewhere else. This prompted me to look into transferring to a different college.”

Why UMD?
“I decided to transfer to UMD because it was actually my original first choice when I was looking at colleges in high school. I really liked how person the UMD campus felt to me as well as all the opportunities UMD students can take advantage of during their time here.”

What was your transfer experience like?
“For me, transferring was scary! I continuously thought that I would decide to transfer and end up not liking my transfer college either and that I would be stuck if this happened. Luckily, UMD provides many resources for transferring students that make the process easy and as stress-free as transferring colleges can be. Even during the time that I was simply looking into transferring but hadn’t yet made a decision, UMD provided me with resources and people to talk to so that I could ensure that UMD was a good fit for me and my academic goals. When I had officially decided to transfer, UMD provided me with all the information I needed for an easy transfer process. I was given contact information for people to talk to if I had any questions and my admissions counselor really helped ease the stress of transferring.”

How did you feel when you arrived on campus?
“The first time I was on the UMD campus was for Advisement & Registration (A&R). Everyone I met on this day was incredibly welcoming. There were both professors and current students available for me to talk to about classes, setting up my schedule, and campus life in general. When I transferred, I lived on campus in one of the on-campus apartments. This was really nice because one of my roommates had been at UMD from her freshman year and the other was also a transfer student, so I got a lot of support from them and their different experiences with college and UMD. UMD faculty and professors are really great about making sure new students feel welcome, as well.”

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Nikki and some friends literally hanging out by the on-campus apartments in their hammocks.

Are you involved in any clubs/organizations?
“I am involved in lots of clubs and organizations at UMD. I am a part of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club which allows me to interact with people who have similar academic interests as me but also connects me with job and internship opportunities from people working in chemistry career fields. I am also a part of the University Gaming Society which is a club that focuses on tabletop gaming, board games, and other nerdy things. It’s definitely one of the best clubs I am a part of. I also participate in intramural sports at UMD. I recently played on a softball team and I am looking to get involved with a curling team this upcoming winter season.”

Did you hear about or are you involved with any internship or job shadow opportunities?
“I do not currently have an internship but I have heard of the many opportunities UMD provides for finding internships and job shadow opportunity. I have gone to a few of UMD’s job fairs as well as utilized goldPASS for finding jobs and internships.”

Do you work on-campus and/or off-campus?
“I work both on and off-campus. Off-campus I work at a comic book store because, although I am a science major, I really enjoy drawing and art and this allows me to utilize my artsy side. On-campus I work for the Office of Admissions as a tour guide coordinator as well as volunteering at UMD’s Large Lakes Observatory doing research on Lake Superior and the surrounding environments.”

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Nikki and a fellow tour guide, Matt, like to pose heroically over UMD’s campus during one of the large group tour days.

What has been your favorite class so far?
“So far my favorite class at UMD has been quantitative analysis. This class is where, as a chemistry student, you get to start seeing more of the procedures that you would actually use in a laboratory as opposed to learning the basics of the subjects in a general chemistry class. I have always wanted to work in an analytical chemistry career field and this class helped me verify this.”

Do you have a favorite professor?
“My favorite professor at UMD is Richard Buckalew. He’s a mathematics professor and his teaching style is really structured around making sure students truly understand the subject. He is helpful during his office hours and is also easy to talk to which makes getting help a lot more enjoyable.”

What has been your best memory at UMD?
“My best memory at UMD was spending every Friday night last semester playing board games in one of the meeting rooms on campus. It’s really great being able to start your weekend by meeting up with a bunch of your friends, playing board games, then going to Tavern on the Hill to get some food. It is something I looked forward to every week and am already looking forward to during the upcoming fall semester.”

Did you study abroad?
“I have not studied abroad but I am in the process of planning a study abroad trip for the fall semester of my senior year.”

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Nikki posing next to a giant penguin that she found during a pit stop in New York when her and some friends went on a road trip to Maine over winter break this past year.

What would you have done differently when choosing a college?
“Something I wish I would have done differently is paid more attention to how I felt about the overall campus when I was choosing a college, not just if the college had a good academic standing. I thought that going to a private university would be better for me academically but soon discovered that there is so much more to choosing a college than academics and that you need to choose a college where you feel comfortable on the campus.”

What was your biggest fear about transferring and how did you overcome it?
“My biggest fear about transferring was that I wouldn’t like to college I transferred to either and that I would become stuck in this loop of never being happy with where I chose to attend college. I overcame this fear of transferring by talking to people I knew who attended UMD and asking them what their favorite things about UMD were and if they thought the college was a good fit for them.”

Do you have any advice for other students who are considering transferring to UMD?
“The best advice I can give is to simply go for it. In my experience I was not happy with the college I was attending and was scared that if I transferred I wouldn’t be happy at my new college either. Eventually, it came down to me deciding that I knew I wasn’t happy where I was and that worst case scenario nothing would change when I transferred. Luckily, transferring to UMD has been one of the best decisions I have made and I am glad I had to courage to transfer.”

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