Should I stay or should I go: Northwestern students talk about their transfer experiences


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Transfers and the Class of 2023 after March Through The Arch. Twenty-five percent of college students transfer schools at some point in their university careers, according to CNBC.

Gregory Svirnovskiy, Assistant Sports Editor

A high school tennis star from Toronto, now John Drake thought he’d found the perfect tennis program at an elite American institution, cutting off communications with all other recruiters. When those plans fell through, the now Weinberg junior ended up at the University of Western Ontario, playing tennis and running his own cell phone repair business.

“There were absolutely no resources at my old school when it came to entrepreneurship,” Drake said. “I was just trying to get any guidance I could, whether it was marketing or just advice on how to increase sales or deal with customers. There was literally not a single resource out there. I couldn’t get help from anyone.”

So he transferred into Northwestern’s economics program.

Twenty-five percent of college students transfer schools at some point in their university careers, according to CNBC. Such life changes are spurred by any number of reasons, from a desire for increased academic opportunities to social stagnation. From there, they have to start over, finding friends and building relationships for a second time.

Students described varying experiences both leading up to their decision to transfer and in their transition to NU. Weinberg junior Ellie Buckner said she decided to transfer to Northwestern largely because of a Political Union meeting she sat in on when visiting the school with a friend.

“I just felt very excited about that because there weren’t really spaces like that at my old school where people could talk about politics,” Buckner said. “That was what I kind of envisioned college to be like in my head so I was really excited to see that.”

Buckner, who started college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, was happy with the social situation there. She simply felt like it made more sense for her career if she moved somewhere else, after realizing she didn’t want to pursue the STEM education Case Western offered.

“Case is a great school for people who want to do engineering and pre-med,” Buckner said. “When I realized that wasn’t me, I felt like I would have better opportunities to do social science and econ somewhere else.”

Like Buckner, Weinberg senior Sarah Fan transferred to Northwestern from the University of Michigan in part because she decided to change her major to something more theoretical.

“I remember I just started crying,” Fan said on opening her acceptance email. “I think I was overwhelmed with emotion because I had gotten rejected from the only other transfer school I had applied to.”

Now Fan is a Peer Adviser for transfer students. She said she appreciates Wildcat Welcome for being a more immersive and comprehensive orientation program than that of her old school.

This story was updated on Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. to remove an experience that a source expressed concerns with having in the story.

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Twitter: @GSvirnovskiy