The Book I Never Meant to Write, But Did!

My first book will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in a few weeks. When I first began writing professionally, I never dreamed that this would be the book I’d spend almost eight years interviewing for, writing, revising, editing, and submitting over and over again; the book I’d ultimately see on the websites or shelves of large bookstores.

Like many writers, I thought I would eventually write a novel (a best seller of course!) perhaps a mystery, historical fiction, or a political satire-three of my favorite genres. Nevertheless, when I was approached by my coauthor, college admissions counselor Lucia Tyler, all those years ago to author a book on college transfer; I was intrigued. Not only did I have three sons in various stages of higher education, but I had been a transfer student myself over thirty years ago, an experience that I still occasionally mulled over. I was curious to see what contemporary students’ experiences had been like when the college they chose wasn’t working for them. It sounded like an interesting “side project” to take on and the two of us began to meet weekly.

Here’s what I discovered. College transfer can occur for the right reasons or the wrong ones. My transfer all those years ago had been a series of mistakes (mine and my parents) that caused me no end of anguish and left me with an uneasy relationship with my alma mater. Coincidentally, one of my best friends also transferred to the same college, the same year. Her college transfer ended up being the best thing that ever happened to her and she still speaks fondly and positively of her years there. Together, we make the perfect poster child for the book's title, The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer: From Surviving to Thriving. I merely survived in college while my friend thrived.

As I interviewed numerous students and parents, I began to understand that this book could be a wonderful resource for families who realized that change was necessary but had no idea how to go about it or where to begin. The best teachers would be those who had already been through the transfer process and were willing to openly share their successes and failures with others.  The more stories I heard, the more committed I became to seeing the book through to the end.

I won’t lie, writing a nonfiction book was a steep learning curve at times, and a lot more work than I had bargained for. But in the end it was worth it, personally and professionally.

In our conclusion, I note that transfer can be an invaluable learning experience for college students. It can lay a foundation for how young people navigate change, both in their college years and for the rest of their lives. Would this book have made a difference in my life had it been written in the 1980’s? I like to think so. It’s certainly allowed me to revisit my own experience, gain some valuable perspective, and move on. This may not be the book I intended to write but I believe it’s a book I needed to write. Plus, it was great practice for when I finally get around to writing that novel!

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