Transferring from Dartmouth

by Luis Del Valle | 5/11/93 10:00pm

While Dartmouth consistently ranks at the top of the list in surveys gauging student satisfaction, a small number of students decide to transfer to other colleges and universities each year.

Students who transferred cited different reasons ranging from displeasure with the College's location to financial considerations.

Hollister Leopold, now a Harvard sophomore, cited worries about her major as the main reason she transferred from Dartmouth last year.

Leopold, a music major, said she felt the music environment at Dartmouth lacking.

"Dartmouth is very isolated and there aren't to many options for people interested in music in Hanover," Leopold said.

"The music program is much more theoretical [at Harvard] and the music theory professors are wonderful," she said.

In Cambridge, Leopold said she has the option of going to concerts and participating in more music-orientated activities than she did at Dartmouth.

Leopold added that during her freshman year at Dartmouth, the only musical group she participated in, the Franciscan Quartet, disbanded after problems with its director.

Leopold, who applied early-decision to Dartmouth, described the events that brought her to Dartmouth originally as a "total fluke."

"Even during my first visit here, it was raining and cloudy, but the campus was beautiful, and I decided why not come here," Leopold said.

Assistant Dean of Freshmen Anthony Tillman said the most significant reason students give him for transferring is Dartmouth's environment.

"People from urban backgrounds may find Dartmouth too isolated," Tillman said. "Some may want to be closer to home, in much more metropolitan areas."

Tillman said most freshman who mention an interest in transferring from Dartmouth end up doing so.

He cited the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford as some of the schools freshman consider transferring to.

Charlotte Chan, presently a junior at Harvard, transferred out of Dartmouth after her freshman year when she found Hanover "too small and enclosing."

Chan, who is from Hong Kong, enjoyed spending a post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut and said she thought Dartmouth's small and tranquil environment was reason enough for her to apply to Dartmouth.

But she said she soon discovered she wanted a more urban and diverse atmosphere.

"Now I am much more happy and there are many more options than there were at Dartmouth," Chan said.

All the students interviewed cited Dartmouth's social scene high on their list of reasons for transferring. From "suffocating" to "narrow," transfer students and transfer candidates agreed that Dartmouth's social options need improvement.

A Dartmouth sophomore who wants to transfer to Harvard and asked to remain anonymous cited many reasons behind his decision to leave Hanover, but said the College's social options were the most important.

Despite a healthy grade-point-average, good and established friendships and participation in a varsity sport, the student said he could not see himself participating in the fraternity system. "I feel very out of it," he said.

Coming from a major city and having been exposed to many diverse elements, the student, who is white, says he has asked himself how minority students can deal with such Dartmouth's relatively homogeneous environment.

But despite the fact he is only days away from receiving a response from Harvard, the student said he now feels very unsure about transferring.

"I have so many things on my mind that I really don't know what I am going to do," he said.

Since submitting his transfer application, the student admitted he has thought a lot about his situation at Dartmouth. "I really don't know if the problem is me personally or the school."

"I have taken many good courses recently, and transferring now, leaving such a good academic record, seems like a difficult decision to make," he said.

Rosemary Green, coordinator of transfer admissions at Harvard, said there is no different set of criteria for transfer students.

"We are looking for strong academic standing and strong potential in prospective transfer applicants," Green said.

According to Green, Harvard receives approximately 1,100 transfer applications each year. Harvard admits 135 candidates, and 120 eventually matriculate. "Our transfer yield is very high," Green added.

According to Green, Harvard asks transfer candidates for a statement explaining why they are choosing Harvard.

Green said that an overwhelming number of students cite academic consideration and quality of life issues as their reason for applying to Harvard.

For most of the students interviewed, adjustment to a new school and a new environment came without difficulty. Most schools, including Harvard, design special orientation programs for incoming transfer students, which even include tours of the surrounding urban area.

However, entering a school late did make her feel awkward, Leopold said. "It's hard at first, but eventually you make your own friends through classes or activities. You eventually fall into your group of friends," she said.

"Once you're a sophomore at Harvard, it's like being a freshman all over again, since you are placed to meet upperclassmen you normally don't meet as freshman," said Brent McGuire, a Dartmouth student who transferred to Harvard .

McGuire said he was happy with his switch. "Despite what people tell you, the professors at Harvard are accessible, but certainly at Dartmouth, one can have much more intimate relationships with professors," McGuire said.