I transferred to Yale in the Fall of the 2021, and now - almost two years later - the newest cohort of transfer students will soon be welcomed to campus. Applications have already been submitted and decisions are set to be released in the coming month. As cheesy as this may sound, it honestly feels like yesterday when I found out I was accepted (to be fair, I did film myself and have looked back at the video any time I feel anything that resembles imposter syndrome). But, besides the immediate excitement and overwhelming sense of gratitude I felt when I got accepted, a big decision lay ahead of me: Would I choose Yale over other universities I was accepted to?
As you can probably tell by the fact that I am a blog writer for the Yale Admissions Office, the answer to that question turned out to be yes. And this upcoming May will be two years since I did so. So, why did I choose Yale? More specifically, why did I choose Yale as a transfer student?
Unlike students who enroll right after high school, I was deciding on where to spend my last two years of undergrad, not all four. As a transfer student, deciding which university to attend can be a daunting task. For some transfers, they are leaving their old institution because they feel as though that university lacked something (a sense of community, educational opportunities, etc.) and they hope for a better experience at their new university. For me - a community college student - I needed to transfer. But, I didn’t know what the “college experience” was like nor what it should be like. However, what I did know was which academic environments I thrived in and what I needed as a student.
The first thing was community. Funnily enough, the name “community college” is a bit misleading. Community colleges do not have dorms or residential life and as a result, finding a sense of community can be very challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I made amazing friends while at community college and joined various clubs and organizations. However, looking back now, I lacked the sense of community I’ve found here at Yale. Yale’s residential colleges were one of the biggest draws for me. Not only would I be able to join clubs and extracurriculars like I had in community college but I would be a part of a smaller community within the larger Yale student body. Each residential college has its own traditions, events and ways of bringing people together and I’ve really enjoyed making friends and building a home in the “mini community” I was put into. Being placed in a residential college made my transfer transition easier in a lot of ways, since I immediately felt welcomed and a sense of belonging.
Something I’ve learned about myself is that I thrive academically in smaller settings. While some may love the big lectures of over 100 students, I tend to get overwhelmed by it. And so, one of the reasons why I chose Yale was because of how small many of its classes are. Again, do not get me wrong, Yale provides several large seminars and lectures for those who prefer that style of teaching. But for students like me, I’ve been able to take classes that have between 4-15 people in them (including the professor). At my community college, a lot of classes were oversubscribed and I tended to be in classes of about 50 people. I knew that I did not want that type of academic environment when I transferred and so when making my decision, I took into consideration both the student to faculty ratio and how many students were typically in a class. And in my case, Yale was the best option.
Another factor I took into consideration when making my decision was location. My community college is 15 minutes away from my home back in California. And while I absolutely adore my state, its weather, and the place I’ve grown up in, I knew it was time for a change. I wanted to be far away from home and experience a new city. Coincidentally, the two schools I was deciding between were both on the East Coast (New Haven and Pennsylvania to be exact). Since I made my decision during the height of the pandemic I was unable to visit either city. So, after lots of Googling and watching YouTube videos, I decided that New Haven seemed a better fit for me. Just like I thrive in smaller academic environments, I also prefer living in smaller cities. More specifically, I liked that New Haven was on the smaller side while still being a short train ride away from bigger cities like New York and Boston. After living in New Haven for the past two years, I can definitely say that the city has grown on me. I have restaurants I frequently visit, coffee shops which I adore and places I like to take people to when they visit me.
I have a lot of reasons why I chose Yale two years ago and if I were to write about all of them in this blog, the blog would be very very long. But, these three reasons - community, small academic environment and location - have been the reasons why I’ve continued to choose Yale and why I’m so thankful for the decision I made in the past. Yale has provided me with the college experience that I hoped for and one I know I would not receive anywhere else. Writing this blog while studying abroad at the University of Oxford has only highlighted that for me. Oxford has given me a new academic experience and I’ve truly enjoyed every second of it. But, it’s not Yale nor has it ever made me feel anything like being at Yale does. Making the decision of where to transfer is meant to be challenging and conflicting. But, I can honestly say that you’ll end up where you’re meant to be, whether that is here at Yale or somewhere else.