Applying to college was a fight between my parents and I. Granted, I understood where my mom was coming from because my other parent had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She wanted me to stay at home in Chicago, IL so that is what I did. I applied to three area schools. In the end, I ended up somewhere I didn’t want to be: at my state school’s Honors College. When I applied to transfer my list of schools was comprised of: Smith College, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University, Wellesley College, Cornell University, Vanderbilt University, and Wesleyan University.
I applied to Northwestern because it was near my hometown, but far enough away that I could have some space. I loved the quarter system and didn’t mind the distribution requirements because of the ability to take 12+ courses per year. Northwestern also has some very unique adjunct majors and I was particularly interested in Science and Human Culture. Unfortunately, NU does not offer Neuroscience as a major and it’s size is slowly increasing every year.
Vanderbilt University has a high acceptance rate for transfers and also had a major that dealt with medicine and society. It also has a generous financial aid program for transfers. Nashville is known as an up-and-coming city in terms of not being on the scale of New York or Chicago but still being alive with a fantastic music scene. The campus itself is gorgeous and very green, but the school is also very close to the city. In the end, I wanted the East Coast.
WashU represented something I didn’t actually want: a place awash in premeds. Still, I applied there because it’s a powerhouse school with great connections available for med school and it is in the midwest; again, closer to home.
Wesleyan is known for its dedication to undergraduate research. As a science lover and one who is passionate about research in general, this was very appealing. The school itself, though, is need aware for transfers. I was not a fan of the location in Middletown, CT over some of my other choices.
I applied to Cornell on a whim because I thought I should apply to one Ivy. The sheer size of Cornell just wasn’t something I was interested in (14,000 undergrads) and I didn’t like how each school was so separate from one another. Someone in the college of Human Ecology could not double major in CAS and in order to switch within the University you have to apply. Plus, I didn’t want to be in rural New York no matter how fun Ithaca is.
Smith College appealed to me because of its strong focus on the sciences and their STRIDE program guaranteed incoming freshmen paid research. Unfortunately, that program did not extend to transfers. The unique housing system and open curriculum was also appealing, but in the end their financial aid offer just wasn’t competitive enough.
I hit the jackpot with Wellesley. The campus has got to be one of the most beautiful in the U.S. and it is close enough to Boston where you don’t feel trapped in the upscale suburbs of New England. Their financial aid award was incredible, second only to Vanderbilt, and students here can cross register at MIT, Brandeis, Babson, Frank W. Olin School of Engineering, and many more area schools. The endowment size for only 2,300 students tops $1 billion, which translates into whatever you want to do Wellesley will help you find a way to do it.
Looking back, the only school I wished I applied to is Yale. But then again, I think a smaller school is better for me for undergrad. There’s always graduate school to look forward to.