Author: Rachel Stewart, C’16
“Why did you transfer?” is the common refrain when I mention that I’m a first-year sophomore. Two and a half months in, five classes down, a move from Hill to Harnwell, countless acquaintances made and too many dining dollars spent on coffee– and I still have no coherent answer as to why I transferred. Usually I rattle off some awkward jumble about the lack of social life or the complicated Columbia/Barnard relationship or my desire to get a little further away from home. But I know that Barnard is an amazing school that would have provided me with a great education and opportunities, its location is unbeatable, and the “small-school feel” within a big research university is ideal for me.
Beyond the rhetoric of admissions, however, I was not having the type of experience at Barnard that I had hoped for. Penn is comparable to Barnard in many, many ways, but what I love most about this school is the unquantifiable: making cookies with my roommate at 12am, running into my old friend from high school on Locust, the breakfast sandwich in Bridge cafe, the “Puck Frinceton” t-shirts that populated campus last week. I left Barnard knowing that I would miss a lot about the school and unsure of whether or not making such a big change would be worthwhile.
In my first year of college the most important lessons I learned helped me grow as a woman and understand the importance of community, support, and friendship– all of which I have found in abundance since my move from Philadelphia. I could have stayed at Barnard and succeeded academically but I wanted a college experience that was more than books and papers.
Lately when people ask me why I transfer, I smile and simply say, “For Penn.”