Higher-than-usual number of transfer students adjust to campus

by Jack McMahon | 10/13/20 2:00am

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by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Despite unusual circumstances, some in this year’s larger-than-average cohort of transfer students say they’ve felt welcomed at the College.

This fall, the College admitted 45 transfer students, exceeding its annual target of 25 transfer students in order to compensate for a smaller than expected freshman class, according to dean of admissions and financial aid Lee Coffin. In the last few years, the school has enrolled between 10 and 15 transfer students. 

Transfer students this term participated in new student orientation alongside the freshman class. For those living on campus, many have gotten to know other students on their floors or in their dorms.

Teddy Wavle ’23, who transferred from Colgate University, said his interactions with freshmen have played a key part in feeling welcomed at Dartmouth.

“I know that the experience is not what it could have been, but I would say overall it's been positive,” Wavle said. “I think it's been a good thing to be on campus and be physically surrounded by hundreds of other kids that are going through the same experience that you are.”

Wavle lives on a floor with many other transfer students. He explained that he and his floormates have been able to develop their own sense of community despite many other students in dorms being ’24s.

Wavle said he appreciates that returning Dartmouth students, including upperclassmen he has met in clubs and his undergraduate advisor, have been helpful in the transition to a new college. He added that he felt College administrators have been effective in communicating resources.

“I think that the administration has definitely made an effort to make us feel supported here and to let us know that there are tons of resources here at our disposal,” Wavle said.

Ryan Schwartz ’23, a transfer student from Haverford College, said that he is happy with his choice to come to Dartmouth, and he credits his orientation peer leader group for contributing to his positive experience so far. As the only transfer student in his OPL group, Schwartz said he was able to form connections with incoming freshmen who were going through an experience largely similar to his own.

“I think that just meeting a ton of new people in a short duration of time, despite these extreme circumstances, was truly what enabled me to have a seamless transition to Dartmouth,” Schwartz said. He also said his OPL group was able to meet each other in person and go on a hike together once quarantine ended.

Outdoor Programs Office acting director Paul “Coz” Teplitz said that transfers were mixed with ’24s in orientation groups in order to build community across class years.

“We wanted to provide all students, including transfer students, with connections to as broad a group of other incoming students [as possible], and [as many] other incoming students with different sets of experiences as we could,” Teplitz said. 

Min Hur ’24, a transfer student from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy who is taking classes remotely from South Korea this term, said that she also felt her orientation group, made up of students in the same time zone, was an important part of making her feel “really welcomed” at Dartmouth, in spite of her distance from campus.

Despite a positive orientation experience, some transfer students expressed frustration that they — unlike freshmen — were not able to defer enrollment a year in light of COVID-19.

In an email statement to The Dartmouth, Coffin explained that transfer students were not allowed to defer enrollment because the number of transfer students admitted is calculated to fill gaps in undergraduate enrollment.

“For students accepted last spring as transfer candidates, each offer of admission was extended by the College and accepted by each enrolling student with the clear understanding that the acceptance was for fall term 2020 and that the invitation to enroll as a transfer student could not be postponed,” Coffin wrote.

Angus Gruner ’23, a transfer student from the University of Virginia, said he wished he could have considered a gap year.

“Looking at the value of college right now, it would've been great to go and take a gap year. I just think I would be able to get a little bit more out of that,” Gruner said. “Transfer students already have less time at Dartmouth. I'd like to be able to get as much as I can out of Dartmouth when I'm here.”

Despite coming to Dartmouth during the pandemic, Rothschild Toussaint ’23, who transferred from Miami Dade College, said that he has enjoyed his experience so far and is looking forward to when things get back to normal.

“Even through this pandemic, things are not ideal, but [we] keep our heads high. We’re looking forward to the future,” Toussaint said.