Transfer students speak out
While most students find much of what they need here on the Hill, some students need something that the College cannot offer.
According to Senior Associate Dean of Students Paul Johnston, the College lost 20 students over the 2010-2011 academic year to other institutions. “The number [of students transferring out of the College] has been pretty static [over the recent years],” Johnston said. The College lost 19 students in the 2009-2010 year and 24 in the 2008-2009 year.
Students may decide to transfer to another school for a myriad of reasons, but only a few students give helpful feedback to the administration, according to Johnston.
In some cases, a student will spend a year at the College and realize that he or she wants to major in a subject area that the College does not offer. Johnston spoke of one case where a student discovered a passion for engineering after taking a few physics classes. “In that case, the student needs to find a school with an engineering program…which is not available at a liberal arts institution like Colby,” Johnston said.
Two students, who have asked to remain anonymous, also offered statements about the reasons behind their decisions to leave the College. Both students, who transferred to the same university, realized that they wanted a more urban environment. “Being a student less interested in the party scene, I needed a university with more to do on the weekends,” one student said. “I mainly transferred because I felt too isolated and claustrophobic on such a small campus,” the other added.
Additionally, both students found the long winter to be difficult. “[The winter] had some marked effects on my happiness,” the second student said. The first student, who participated in the First Semester Away program, felt lonely in January when there was not much to do in terms of extracurricular activities, as most clubs do not resume activity until the spring. “Being socially alienated is never simple,” she said, “especially in a place when you have little else to distract you from the emptiness.”
Still, both students explained that their experiences on the Hill were not entirely negative. “Academically, Colby is a strong college, but I just wasn’t able to survive on academics alone,” the first student said.
“While Colby is an amazing school, simply because of its location it could not offer me what I wanted. It’s sad but true,” the second student said. For this student, the decision to transfer was not an easy one. “I’m not sure I speak for a lot of transfers, but I had a great first year…I just needed more,” she said. “I can’t say I don’t miss Colby,” she admitted.
Looking at the list of institutions to which students from the 2010-2011 year transferred, Johnston concluded that most of these students chose schools that are very different from the College. Most of the schools have bigger student bodies, are in more urban environments or are in a location with a totally different climate.
Johnston understands that the College is not a perfect fit for everyone. “I don’t worry [that some students decide to transfer], because for them, going somewhere else will propel them towards their future goals,” he said.