I enjoyed the Corcoran, I made good friends there, got involved in the student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the U.S. Green Building Council, and had some great professors who do amazing work in DC. But when I got my job at Arlington Home Interiors, started working with Kelly at Stylish Patina, and took on my space in the Sweet Clover Barn, I realized that I had completely underestimated my own ability to connect with people in my field. I also realized that I have no real intention of going to work for the architecture or design equivalent of the company I previously worked for. I like working in small businesses and owning a business because I get so much satisfaction building something for myself or helping those that I know personally build something.
Starting a business is expensive, and owning one can be pretty risky. I started looking at how fast I was wracking up debt in student loans and realized that the very decision I made to give myself freedom to pursue a new profession might also be the decision that would prevent me from doing so in the way that would make me happiest. Being saddled with student loans isn't exactly freeing, and I knew I needed to re-evaluate my decision.
It crossed my mind once or twice to drop out of school altogether, since you don't need a degree to do residential decorating in Virginia. I don't want to do that because there are so many opportunities to use design in ways that I haven't been exposed to, and I want to continue my education so that I can learn more about things like healthcare design and aging in place. Instead, I made the difficult decision to transfer to Marymount University's graduate interior design program. Their program is great and I know a few people who graduated from their undergrad program and were very happy there. After running the numbers, I determined that it would save me over $20,000 (!!!), and that doesn't include the fact that it's closer to my house and that parking is about half the price. Since I had already been admitted to the program the year before, it was just a matter of filing some paperwork and meeting with the department chair.
I'm going to miss the Corcoran and the friends I made there a lot, but I'm also confident that I will make new friends at Marymount, and I might even be able to take some of what I learned from my student involvement at the Corcoran to Marymount's program. I feel a little sheepish because this is actually the second time I will be a transfer student (I transferred into UVA in undergrad), so that means I will have attended four schools to get two degrees. But it would also be quite silly of me to stay at the Corcoran just because I don't want to transfer again. I'm already sleeping better knowing I'm saving that much money. Classes start next week--wish me luck!