Let’s get one thing straight — transferring sucks. It isn’t easy, and some might even call it “the most horrible decision ever” (not to be melodramatic or anything). Imagine spending an entire year learning the ropes of a school, making new friends and adjusting to college life while simultaneously dealing with this horrid feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you that you need to get out. Of course, you can’t even tell anyone about the awful sinking feeling for fear of offending them. That has been the real experience of countless transfer students.
Despite what the Wall Street Journal implied in a recent article (“College admissions: the sequel,” 10/28), we believe it is rare to find a student so cynical as to start his freshman year hating the college he has chosen and planning to transfer into a more prestigious school. Many students who are unhappy with the colleges they were accepted to take time off rather than attend a college that they dislike. Most students who enroll in a college that was not initially their first choice begin their college career sincerely hoping that they will enjoy and benefit from the school they have chosen. But sometimes what you hope is the perfect match just doesn’t work out. Transferring is the only option for those so deeply unhappy that they cannot bear the thought of remaining at their institution. Given how difficult it is to transfer anywhere, not to mention the extremely slim chances of getting into one of the prestigious Ivies, it is illogical for students to enter their freshman year with the plan to transfer to another school. Doing so ruins the experience at the initial school. No one actually wants to be miserable at a school for any period of time, let alone for an entire year.
There are no guarantees in the transfer process. The odds are awful (with a 3.7 percent admission rate at Yale) — far worse than the odds of being accepted freshman year (8.6 percent). Who in their right mind would bet their happiness on those odds? Ask any transfer student on campus. It wasn’t about getting into Yale, it was about getting out of wherever we started. Having identified what was wrong with our respective colleges, we found in Yale the potential solution to our frustrations. None of us put ourselves through the stress and work of reapplying to “prove ourselves” to the school that rejected us. If we had been happy with our initial schools, regardless of whether they had been our top choices or not, we would not have transferred. Simple proof of this lies in the fact that transfer students do not apply to one school the second time around. Rather, they apply to a lot of schools, much like the initial college process, in the hopes of going somewhere, anywhere, that isn’t where they are.
We’ve all been approached with the dreaded question of “Why did you transfer?” While we might roll our eyes and sigh, irked at having to answer the question yet again, the response always comes out in the form of frustrations about and criticisms of our initial university. Be it Brandeis or Williams, the University of Maryland or Stanford, Princeton or Tufts, it was wrong for us. Clearly, if prestige were the issue at hand, we would not see the large number of applicants from other Ivy League universities. If anger at not being accepted the first time were the issue at hand, we would not have so many first-time applicants to Yale. There are around 60 transfer students on this campus, and we can say for certain that none of them applied to transfer out of their schools in order to get into Yale and Yale alone.
Daniella Berman is a senior in Calhoun College. Therese Lim is a senior in Berkeley College.