I'm applying to PhD programs in math. The thing is: I went to a great school coming out of high school, but it didn't work out. (No GPA problems thankfully; just personal stuff.) I ended up going to an engineering program, where I eventually understood math was my calling, and everything has been going swimmingly since then.
The question is: do I need to explain myself? Every program I apply to will be getting the transcript from my first institution. It seems to me I should explain why I left and how I've gotten to where I am. That said, only one school I'm applying to actually requires a statement about this kind of circumstance, which has left me a bit confused. Presumably my having transferred will raise questions that I should strive to address in my application, rather than letting the admissions committees' imaginations fill in the gaps. That said, I feel as though anything I can say to explain the situation will detract from the positive developments that transpired after I transferred, particularly given the prestige I chose to give up.