“One week really hurt my room.” Anonymous 20’ laughs, as she pushes open the door to her room.
At first glance, her room appears like that of any other Bates student. Clothing is strewn across the floor, band posters scatter across the wall above her unmade bed, and a Keurig machine sits on the bureau in the corner, enshrined with a multitude of empty K-Cups. On her crowded desk, however, something stands out. Sandwiched between The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Bell Jar, is the hallmark blue-and-green binding which any recent high school graduate knows all too-well: The Fiske Guide to Colleges: 2017.
With the recent deadline of March 1 for many transfer students, Jane has just submitted applications to three colleges: Tufts, Brown, and Yale.
Transferring, as she tells me, is by no means a simple process. Transfer students must go through all the basic steps of the college-bound senior. Students submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, the common application, along with slightly-modified supplementary essays for transfer admission. With all of these components of the application, on top of a four-class Bates course load, transferring can require months of work.
So, what isn’t working for these students?
Understandably, the reasons differ. While some transfer students seek out a particular major not offered at Bates, others yearn to escape a part of campus culture. For Anonymous, her reasons were largely social: “I thought I wasn’t fitting in, as I am normally a friendly person.” Citing this aspect social life as a major reason for her transfer, Anonymous continues: “I knew that I was friendly to begin with, so it couldn’t be that.”
Having just clicked the submit button on the Common Application, Anonymous gave me a glimpse into what it’s like being fresh out of the transfer process. To hear from the other end of the process, I spoke with Maddie Lang ‘20, a spring semester transfer currently at the Miami University in Ohio.
Lang’s reasons, on the other hand, largely revolved around the size of Bates. For Lang, “Bates was too small and I got bored there within the first week. Miami offers more social [Greek] life, more majors and minors, football games, baseball games, hockey games, etc. that students actually attend.” She believes that with these opportunities, there is a stronger sense of “school spirit and community” at Miami than there is at Bates.
Though many students seek to transfer after their first year, some plan to transfer for junior year. Just beginning the transfer process, Anonymous #2 ‘20 is one of these students. Similar to the first student I spoke with, her feeling’s are also social: “I feel as though my personality is muted by the community. I’ve experienced a lot of judgmental attitudes from people. A lot of people are stuck in this idea of what they have to be… and I don’t fit that formula.” With Wesleyan and Reed at the top of her list, Anonymous #2 will be submitting applications at around this time next year.
Bates is not an anomaly in terms of transfer students. With Bowdoin’s retention rate of 98%, and 93% at Colby, Bates’ retention rate of 94% is certainly in the ballpark of our neighboring institutions. But nonetheless, it is important to glimpse a population which often times, remains invisible to the larger Bates community. While we can rest assured that many of our fellow students find a home in Lewiston — let’s consider the six percent of students who do not.