So you’ve decided to transfer
Spectrum’s transfer expert and News Editor Leah Greenbaum offers her tips on a smooth, chillaxing transfer experience.
This is my last year at Columbia and the first one when I’ll finally stop introducing myself as a “transfer student” to everyone I meet. During my freshman year at UC Berkeley (go Bears!) I longed to be at Columbia, my dream school, where I was sure I’d fit in. One year and some paperwork later, I was surprised to find that, even at Columbia, I stuck out like a bear cub in a lion’s den—or at least I imagined I did. Here are some tips to ease into life at Columbia when you feel like that old weirdo with no friends.
People will always ask you why you transferred. Always. Forever. Come up with a pithy one-sentence answer that isn’t “I really wanted to go to an Ivy League”. Mine is: “I was having a rough weekend so I filled out the app and I was so surprised that I got in, I just couldn’t turn it down [charming smile]!”
Freshmen are friends, not fools. You’re in LitHum, your peers are still trying to break out of the five-paragraph essay and wash their clothes, and you’re thinking, “been there, done that”. Understandable. But just remember, the first-years grow up and can become great friends. Y’all are both experiencing a new environment for the first time and it really doesn’t hurt to have a study buddy when you’re trying to grind through History of the Peloponnesian War.
Join a club. Just do it. Hate to make a sales pitch here but Spec really made me feel a part of this community in ways that the Core and the Yule Log Ceremony never will (despite some of the claims I made in my transfer app). No need to go crazy (if you’re not Hindu why are you on the Bhakti Club listserv?! Noob move.), but find a couple of groups that really excite or interest you.
You’re not stupid or weird. A couple of idiots have suggested that I took the easy way into Columbia. But if you look at admit rates, getting into CC as a transfer is just as hard as getting in as a first-year. Don’t waste a second thinking you’re less of a Columbia or Barnard student because you transferred.
Work the outsider thing. Starting anew at two schools gives you a completely different perspective from your peers. Bring your understanding of how other schools and clubs work into the activities you do here. Out-of-the-box thinking is what moves this University forward.
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