Switching schools is always a gamble, but so far, so good for this year’s transfer students.

“First-year sophomore” is how one transfer student identifies hirself: not a freshman but still new to the Wesleyan community. Wesleyan admits around 60 transfer students each fall and around 15 each spring, making the transfer community a large part of Wesleyan as a whole.

Last January, 16 students transferred to Wesleyan, and this September, 57 more did so. Gabe Lipton Galbraith ’16 was among those who began in January. Lipton Galbraith transferred from Occidental College, a small liberal arts school in Los Angeles. He took a gap semester to travel in Chile before beginning at Wesleyan, a period he spent sea kayaking and climbing glaciers.

Lipton Galbraith said he was drawn to Occidental initially because he wanted a small school in a city. Originally from Washington, D.C., Lipton Galbraith visited many small colleges in urban settings before deciding. According to Wesleyan’s Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, it is common for transfers to come to Wesleyan from schools in large cities.

“Many students apply from larger, more urban schools like BU or G.W.,” Meislahn said. “Students leaving urban campuses for the more isolated campus of Wesleyan is a recurring theme among transfers, with many students coming from New York University or University of Southern California, in addition to Boston University and George Washington [University].”

Despite Occidental’s location in one of the country’s cultural hubs, Lipton Galbraith found that the students he encountered were not very politically, artistically, or intellectually engaged. This was, he said, a major factor in his decision to transfer to Wesleyan.

“It’s hard to be engaged yourself if you don’t feel like people around you are similarly engaged,” he said.

Adam Mirkine ’17, a transfer from New York University (NYU), was initially put off by the school’s location in New York City. Mirkine, who grew up in Connecticut, was drawn to NYU’s theater conservatory program and was nervous to live in a major city for the first time. Though he enjoyed his time in New York City, he missed having a campus-centered college experience.

“I didn’t think I would like living in the city, but it turned out that I loved it,” he said. “[But] it wasn’t like I was a student at NYU. It was like I was living in New York City and happened to be going to class.”

Despite his familiarity with Connecticut, Mirkine felt that he stood out as a transfer in the Wesleyan community and needed time to adjust to a new school.

“I had never been the new kid,” he said. “I was never new at school, and I started camp at the beginning, so I was always the veteran.”

Yet many transfers are drawn to campus because of the uniquely high number of transfers Wesleyan admits each year.

“It’s a community within a community,” Lipton Galbraith said.

Mirkine agreed, saying he valued the support from his fellow transfers.

“For the first few weeks of school, it was so great to have this community that knew exactly what I was going through,” he said. “We’d all been to college before, but we were new again. Having people that understood what that was like was really helpful.”

For Lipton Galbraith, the relative ease with which he could enter his chosen major of Government also drew him to campus. Since the school’s departments are relatively small, he found he could readily join the Wesleyan academic community. He was sure to point out that not all transfers have this experience, however. Some majors require an application or only allow small numbers of students to join, making it difficult for interested transfers. For example, Lipton Galbraith noted a student from his transfer class who tried and failed to join the film major.

Part of the sometimes-difficult process of joining a major comes from Wesleyan’s policy basing acceptance of transfers on a set number of spaces each year. The number of students who transfer out of Wesleyan in any given year does not influence that number.

“Our transfer enrollment is set as part of the overall new student enrollment, not a function of attrition [and] retention,” Meislahn said.

Merkine was drawn to Wesleyan because of its liberal arts emphasis. As a member of the theater conservatory program at NYU, he had very little freedom to take classes outside of the program. Though Mirkine enjoyed the theater program there, upon his arrival to Wesleyan, he discovered and enrolled in many classes outside of the theater department that interested him.

Through this exploration, Mirkine has uncovered his passion for film. With an interest in directing, he’s began taking film classes and working behind the camera for the first time.

“I spent last weekend, and [I’m] going to spend this weekend, working on a senior film project,” he said. “At NYU, there is an amazing film department, but to even apply you have to have a 2-minute reel.”

Besides the opportunities for transfers of a traditional age, Wesleyan also has space for students from other age brackets.

“Typically one or maybe two new transfers will be of non-traditional college age,” Meislahn said. “The Posse Vets are all entering Wesleyan as first-years, not transfers. We do recruit and enroll other veterans as transfers, maybe one or two a year.”

Regardless of their ages or past fields of study, diverse groups of transfers find their niches in the Wesleyan community, year after year.

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