Hassan: Transfer Students’ Unfair Deal

The College is deficient in handling the needs of transfer students.

by Wassim Hassan | 2/28/17 12:25am

Every year, Dartmouth accepts a few dozen transfer students. This number usually hovers around 30 to 40 among a pool of approximately 700 applicants. The transfer students come from a vast array of backgrounds, from veterans to varsity athletes. As expected, many of the transfer students come in on a credit deficit, because Dartmouth does not always accept every credit the student has to offer. This can cause transfer students to fall behind, and Dartmouth’s restrictions and protocols only make the situation increasingly difficult for those students.

I am a transfer from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I spent last year as a freshman at UIC, then found myself matriculating into Dartmouth for my sophomore year. I faced and currently still face many of the troubles that transfer students experience, and it’s about time our voice was heard by the College.

First and foremost, Dartmouth’s refusal to provide transfer credit reports before Orientation is problematic in itself. Whether or not a student will have to spend an extra quarter, semester or year at a university is a significant factor in the decision to matriculate. The College strictly refuses to provide any information about credits until mid-June, when they send out instructions for the process. This is after the deadline to commit, and a full credit report was provided to me only upon arriving to campus. In choosing Dartmouth, I was essentially gambling with my graduation date. This is an effective policy to turn away students from transferring to Dartmouth, as I am sure those able to be admitted have other options as well.

Then comes the process of the actual credit evaluation, which is done without the input of the student. Rather, the student is presented with a list of credits received and told that it was thoroughly evaluated, discouraging any challenges to their conclusions. I, however, would like to focus on the most detrimental policy. On the official Dartmouth website, there is a link for a petition to take an additional four-course term beyond the allotted limit of four. On the form, it reads, “transfer students matriculating as a sophomore have the option of three four-course loads; as a junior, two four-course loads.” Given that transfer students are often not awarded enough credits to be at a comparable standing as the rest of the students in their class, one would think that transfers would be given more flexibility in overloading to catch up to their peers. The reality of the policy, however, is contrary to that logic. Transfer students are inhibited by their credit evaluations then assumed to be on the standing of someone who has already used up one or two of their four-course loads. This has and still does result in students matriculating after their freshman year at another university and having to spend an extra year at Dartmouth.

The problem with all of this, aside from the fact that it is contrary to common sense and is blatantly unfair, is that Dartmouth is almost unique in implementing these policies. For example, one of my transfer options was Northwestern University. A week after they notified me of the acceptance, a Northwestern admissions officer emailed me a transfer credit evaluation. While, admittedly, I did receive less credit there than I did at Dartmouth, Northwestern had the courtesy to notify me that I could be looking at an extra semester or summer school if I matriculated. They also notified me that I had the choice to dispute any decision they had made on my credit evaluation and encouraged me to bring resources such as my syllabi and course assignments from UIC.

The transfer process is grueling for students and often ends in dissatisfaction and disappointment. I don’t expect Dartmouth to change its policies anytime soon, given that its transfer population is so small. Perhaps the change will come only when transfer students begin overwhelmingly choosing other universities over Dartmouth because of its shady procedures. Until then, transfer students will continue to deal with the questioning and confused stares when their peers find out they’re on their second or third four-course load.