Getting to Know Bryn Mawr and Haverford’s Transfer Students

in Bryn Mawr/Haverford/Opinion by

By CAMILLE BAECHLER, Staff Writer
Photo by CLAIRE BLOOD-CHENEY

        October 9-13 is National Transfer Week! Initiated by NISTS (the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students), the idea is to increase transfers’ visibility in their new homes and bring attention to the unique contributions they bring to campus. Transfer students are cool! They come from all over, and for a multitude of reasons. They made the decision to leave their previous institution, and they went through the painstaking process of choosing a new school. We all remember how absolutely dreadful the college application process is. Imagine going through it twice. You can’t help but respect the work these students put in to get themselves where they want to be.

        These students are surprisingly easy to miss. Despite all the challenges and anxieties associated with change, this isn’t their first rodeo. They quietly integrate themselves with relative ease and typically fly under the radar, often finding camaraderie with other transfers and the circles they choose to involve themselves in- clubs, sports, academics, and the like.

        Considering our small size and liberal arts status, the Bryn Mawr and Haverford transfer classes are usually just a handful of interesting people coming from anywhere and everywhere. As a transfer student myself, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with my fellow nomads, the reasons behind their movement and the excitement in finding their forever home. These people, while not necessarily looking for attention, are totally interesting and worth getting to know. They bring a certain spice to campus that we are fortunate to have- a breadth of ideas and unique perspectives, largely influenced by their journey and status as transfers.

        This week I spoke with Kate Smokowitz, BMC ’19, a history major from Minnesota State Twin Cities. I asked her what it was like to go from a school of 51,000 students to one of 1,300.

“At a big ten school, I felt like a number. I was in classes with hundreds of people- now, I am in a Shakespeare class of five.” She explained, “Bryn Mawr just feels different. I feel more like a person, one who is actually valued by the community and by my professors.”

I then asked her about how she felt about her decision to transfer and coming to Bryn Mawr. “It has been a very empowering experience. I love it here- so much. I love the architecture, and the novelty of such an incredible campus. It blows my mind that Bryn Mawr has been here since before women even had the right to vote.”

Kate found a supportive environment at Bryn Mawr. “I love that I never feel like someone is judging the way I look or dress, and I have made fashion choices here that I never could have in Minnesota.”

She continued, “Here, I’m not being torn down by other women. At Minnesota State, I couldn’t tell if they wanted me to fail or not.” Kate is actively involved with the Theater Department, and will be performing in the upcoming show, “Riot Antigone”.

        From Haverford, I got to speak with two transfers, Claire Cheney and Rachel Kline, both HC ’20, coming from Macalester College and George Washington University, respectively. Claire explained that she felt her resources were “limited” at Macalester.   

“I couldn’t stay there for four years,” she said. “I felt like I was missing something. I saw my sister go off to college and love it, and I didn’t feel that way. I was wondering what I was missing.”

Added Rachel, “My professors at GW were apathetic about not only academics but the quality of student life. I was unimpressed with the academic rigor and dishonesty of my peers. It was really clique-y.”

At Haverford, both Claire and Rachel feel they have found a better community. They like Haverford for the strong academics and the resources available through the consortium.

        I highly encourage everyone to take advantage of any encounter with a new student and strike up a conversation. You never know what you might have in common with someone who has traveled a different path than your own. At the end of the day, you both chose the same forever home, and therefore have at least one great thing in common.

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