Just like many eager high school seniors graduating this month (my younger sister included), I was beyond excited to travel far away from home to the small liberal arts college that I had applied to via Early Decision way back in December of the previous year. Like literally every piece of media ever produced about college, I was sure that I was heading to the place that was a perfect fit for me, where I would truly find myself (and other clichéd ideas). Shockingly, or maybe not given that one out of every three college students transfer at least once, I ended up deciding that my first institution wasn’t for me. This may seem like I was clear and levelheaded throughout the whole process, but I assure you that there were plenty of tears and panicked nights spent questioning whether I was really making the best decision picking up and starting anew someplace else. How could I know that I wouldn’t be just as unhappy at another school? The really scary part is, I couldn’t know, at least not for sure.
I spent a majority of weekends during my spring semester traipsing up and down the East Coast, taking tours filled with fresh-faced high school students, not so subtlety envying the time that they had left to find a school where they hopefully would be happy for a full four years. When the transfer decisions came in at the end of the semester (full disclosure: I ended up applying to eight schools, apparently with the understanding that I really wanted the “full” college admissions process that I had missed the first time around), Wesleyan was my favorite school to which I was accepted, making my decision easy but in no means certain. I anxiously spent the summer making sure that I was totally prepared to make the most of this second chance. I semi-obsessively examined all of the extracurricular activities that I could join, and agonized over picking the best dorm.
Maybe some of you incoming transfer students are doing the same thing, and perhaps there are some more calm and collected people out there (major props to you, my friends). However, as your friendly neighborhood rising senior, let me share some of the life lessons that I have gained in the past two years that will hopefully make your transition to Wesleyan as smooth as possible:
- Use the transfer network – Wesleyan typically welcomes approximately sixty transfer students in the fall and fifteen students in the spring. This means that that there is a sizable population of transfers here, most of whom love to help connect incoming students with academic and extracurricular opportunities. And even if you manage to find something that none of us seems to be involved with, I’m sure that someone has a friend who is!
- Though it’s hardly scientific, I would venture to say that transfer students are oftentimes in a disproportionate amount of leadership positions given the relatively small proportion that we make up in the general Wesleyan population. I have friends running the Wesleyan Jewish Community, singing their hearts out in acapella groups, starting on varsity sports teams, and serving in leadership roles on the WSA.
- On that note, there’s nothing like a second chance to really push you to try new things! When I came to Wes in the fall of 2015, I went to the Students Activities Fair and signed up for a seriously ambitious number of clubs. Though I didn’t end up joining all of them, I tried a whole bunch of new things and met so many great people, many of whom I’m still friends with today!
- A more logistical piece of advice – try to get your credits and major requirements sorted out as quickly as possible. I have friends who waited until the last minute to do so, please learn from their mistake; these things are much more stressful during your Senior Spring! Dean Phillips (Class of 2020) and Dean Wood (Class of 2019) are great resources and super approachable, so don’t hesitate to meet with them if you need any assistance getting everything completed.
- Take a second to congratulate yourself on your bravery! Leaving a school, no matter the rationale for transferring, requires a tremendous leap of faith.
- There are certainly times when having attended two colleges can be frustrating – needing to get two separate transcripts when applying for internships, answering the constant question of why you decided to transfer and the bonus question for those of us coming from women’s colleges, “did you come to Wesleyan for the boys?” (the answer being a hard no). However, I’m so grateful to be a transfer student – it has given me a great deal of perspective and I wouldn’t trade my first year of college at my previous institution for anything.
Not to speak for my fellow transfer students, but I’m sure that they’d all agree that we can’t wait to welcome you to campus in August! In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns!
Sara Eismont, Class of 2018