Every year, Principia welcomes a number of transfer students. They come from community colleges, large universities and everything in between. For the most part, these students transfer to Principia for the atmosphere, the community and the school’s unique status as a college for Christian Scientists. Regardless of the appeals of the destination, however, the transfer process is a somewhat daunting one. Not only do transferring students have to go through the application process again, they have to coordinate the exchange of information between their former school and their intended destination.
Principia is known for its welcoming atmosphere and its personal application process. When asked about the transfer process itself, students responded in two veins. Some students felt that the recruiting and registrar’s offices were as helpful as could be expected throughout the transfer process, while several students expressed negativity towards the process and the help that they received in their attempts to transfer.
Sophomore Lili Westphal transferred to Principia this year from the small Dean College in Franklin, Mass. According to Westphal, her transfer experience was ameliorated by the help that she received from Principia and the friendliness of the school’s representatives. She said that of the two schools, “Principia helped me out the most. If there is any question of a student coming to Principia, they come to you. [Dean of Enrollment Management] Brian McCauley came out and talked with me. Dean [College] did help with the transfer process, but the support that you find here at Principia is very special.”
Freshman Kalila Kalani and sophomore Chase Schneider also felt that Principia helped them manage their transfer process. “My school was not part of my transfer, and I had lots of help from my advisors here at Prin to get everything in,” Kalani said. Schneider agreed and said that Principia was the “primary facilitator” of his transfer experience, and contended that the experience was therefore not difficult.
Alternately, some students had the opposite experience. Junior Alaina Carlson was discouraged throughout her transfer process, and felt that the difficulty of the experience was alleviated by neither her previous college nor Principia. “The transfer process was difficult. I felt like some of the people I was speaking with from Prin were really very rude to me and honestly made me reconsider even transferring,” she said. Finally, some Prin reps were kind and very helpful and made it much easier, but I feel like no one should feel discouraged like that. [Indiana University] didn’t care I was leaving; they didn’t even know who I was.”
Sophomore Karen Greiner felt that the process itself was easy, but was surprised by some of the disorganization that followed her initial acceptance. According to Greiner, transfer students don’t get equal consideration for financial aid and scholarships. Furthermore, she felt that very little was explained to her regarding practical considerations such as housing and course selection, and that far more attention was paid to the newly-arrived freshman than the equally new transfers when she arrived on campus.
For many transfer students, the most important question of all is “Will my credits transfer?” Again, many transfer students had differing experiences with the registrar’s office. Junior Brandon O’Neil believes that what you expect, as long as you aren’t overly optimistic, is what you get. “I got all the classes transferred that I was expecting to. There were some that I wasn’t really expecting to transfer. I got the hour credit for them, but I didn’t get the course credit, so that was fine,” he said. Schneider had a similar experience. He said that although he came through with the majority of credits that he earned at his previous college, “The experience transferring credits could have been better. About 75 percent of them transferred, which is a relatively high rate of transfer compared to other students, though I was hoping for more.”
Other students were disillusioned by their experience transferring credits. The need to repeat general education requirements even after taking similar classes at other colleges was frustrating for many students. “The most frustrating part was coming from a school with few gen. ed. requirements to one that requires like 15,” sophomore Anna Tarnow said. “Plus, I had been taking a lot of non-major classes at Bates [College] just to try things out. These all came in as generic classes, and so they don’t fill gen. ed. requirements. So now I have to spend a lot of time doing more non-major classes.”
Carlson had a particularly difficult experience transferring credits. According to her, the registrar’s office was often slow in getting back to her regarding her requirements. Carlson’s troubles with the registrar’s office continued even after her credits ostensibly transferred. She said, “For instance, a class at [Indiana University] that they originally felt satisfied my global requirement here at Prin ended up being taken away after a few months because they changed their mind when really, I felt like there was no difference at all.”
Senior Jamison Rybak also had a difficult time transferring credits, particularly for classes within his major. He had taken around 90 credit hours at various colleges that were potentially transferable, but only 65 ended up transferring. Just to get many of those to transfer was a strenuous process. Rybak had to speak with individual professors and get them to vouch for the comparability of classes at Principia and at his other schools. “Eventually, I transferred in half my major, which was a real shock to the registrar’s, and not something they did with any delight,” he said.
The difficulty of transferring credits is universal. Different schools have different requirements and different classes. Students are often caught in the difficult no-man’s land between colleges. However, judging by the negative impressions that many transfer students had of the process, whether they themselves had difficulties or not, it could be put into question as to whether there should be more consideration given to the overall procedures by which Principia evaluates and awards transfer credits.