Locked-in without warning

In 2012 I was a freshman at Sonoma State University, seemingly living the dream. At that point in my college career, I never imagined I would consider transferring to a different university.
Sonoma State has everything one could ask for—luxury dorms, beautiful landscapes and that small-town feel where everyone seems to fit in.
As my first year of college progressed, my goals and priorities began to shift and I started to see things in other universities that Sonoma State didn’t seem to offer, specifically within the classes I was taking and the resources available to students.
As my sophomore year began, I made the decision to transfer out of Sonoma State. I researched the school I wanted to go to, toured the campus and learned about the transfer requirements.
By October of that year, I was prepared to apply to my new college and leave Sonoma State behind.
Little did I know, my goal of transferring to a different university would be crushed by one class Sonoma State doesn’t offer.
The California State University requires transfer students to have completed the “golden four” courses prior to transferring to a different CSU.
Those four requirements are English, critical thinking, mathematics and speech communication.  Without having completed these four courses, applicants are automatically denied.
Students entering Sonoma State prior to the fall 201l were required to take a written and verbal analysis course, which sufficed for the communication requirement to transfer.
Students who began after fall 2011 weren’t required to take a speech communications class whatsoever.
At first this may seem great, less classes, less units and a quicker track to graduation. But how are those who want to transfer out supposed to satisfy this requirement?
Sonoma State’s general education pattern splits the A1 category of verbal communication into three sections. Once students complete categories A2, A3 and C3, section A is completely fulfilled, without having taken a speech communication class.
The problem with this approach is the universal California State University transfer application doesn’t accept it. Transfer students must have completed a verbal communication class, not three classes the university decides makes up for that one course.
This prevents any student who entered Sonoma State during or after the fall 2011 from transferring to a different CSU campus without taking an additional communication course elsewhere, creating an additional expense and hassle to the student.
The fact that Sonoma State doesn’t offer this specific course needed to transfer made me wonder if the university was deliberately preventing students from leaving.
Even though this class requirement stopped me from leaving, I couldn’t help but remember what I was told throughout my journey to transfer out of Sonoma State.
I was told that your future isn’t about the school you attend, but the hands-on experience you have during college and the opportunities you have outside of your campus.
In other words, college is not simply what you learn in the classroom. Now in my senior year, I’m glad I didn’t transfer out of Sonoma State. The reasoning behind why I wanted to leave disappeared because of theexperiences I had beyond the classroom.
In my last three years at Sonoma State, I’ve learned it’s not about the school you attend, but rather the name you make for yourself at that school and the programs you’re involved in.
Sonoma State may not have been the dream college I thought it was four years ago, but that’s okay. College is what you make it so don’t let Sonoma State define you, let your experiences speak for themselves and define your own success.