Are you a college freshman or sophomore thinking about transferring to a different school? Over two days, Executive Board members of Penn’s Transfer Student Organization (TSO), Kim Gordon (C’14, E’14), Eric Shapiro (W’15), Adisa Williams (C’15), and Nikolai Zapertov (C’14), consider their own experiences and discuss each aspect of the transfer process, from deciding to fill out the application to embracing their new campus.
How did you determine that trying to transfer was the right step in your educational journey?
Nikolai: I spent countless hours ruminating over whether I should apply to transfer. I created a set list of five points to determine my motivation for this change. The values and the reasons are all individual but I definitely think you do need to feel that you have a very solid reason for transfer; that makes everything else much easier.
Eric S.: For me, it came down to the flexibility of taking courses from various disciplines. I was doing just business but I’m interested in business and education. I was looking for an institution that would allow me to do more.
Kim: [The choice] was about what I perceived campus life to be like, the sense of identity. I also really value interdisciplinary options. I liked that Penn does have a liberal arts school within the larger picture.
We know that applying to transfer has many steps. What are tips from your personal experience to successfully navigate this process?
Eric S.: I think finding someone at your home institution that supports you whether it’s a professor or an advisor really helps out. This person might write you a recommendation or talk you through the process of why you want to transfer, getting to the core of why you want to leave.
Adisa: There are a few people who will really spearhead the process and push you in this direction. So if you can find someone who really supports your venture, that’s great. For me, it was my sociology professor. Also, be positive in your essays. Focus on what you’re looking for and your sense of self. Make a real case about what you want to be and what you see for yourself.
What were the factors that helped you solidify your choice once admitted?
Eric S.: It was a really tough decision. The night before, I couldn’t sleep; I had a lot of opportunities at my previous school and I needed to process that. It came down to the academic opportunities. Penn is inclusive of whatever you want to do [academically]. It was also the extracurricular activities, the involvement, and the campus, which has green space yet is in a city.
Adisa: Solidifying the decision was hard for me. I was very on the fence about transferring because it’s sort of a gamble where you’re 70% satisfied, but still willing to take a chance for 100% satisfaction. That said, my parents definitely helped in solidifying my choice. My dad finally convinced me—he said, jokingly, “Well, you filled out the application, you got in, there’s a direction we are going in here… – so lets continue with it!” [laughs]. But visiting also helped, I just loved the campus, I was sold on Philly as soon as I visited because of my passion for theatre and dance and Philadelphia’s vibrant performing arts scene.
Nikolai: I visited Penn during Memorial Day weekend. I contacted both my academic and BBB major advisor. Both got back to me immediately. [Speaking with advisors and visiting Undergraduate Admissions] made me feel really warm and special.
Kim: Once I got in, I also visited and I met with an advisor. I’m a dual degree student now and I changed my major more than twice. So I really have a lot of advisors here but I still see [my initial advisor] often because I just love her. There is a lot of great support here.
Check Page 217 tomorrow to learn more about the experience of transitioning to a new campus.