Should I stay or should I go? A look into Mount Holyoke transfers

 Graphic by Carrie Clowers ’18

Graphic by Carrie Clowers ’18

BY FALGUNI BASNET ’21

For many, the phrase “applying to college” evokes the image of an anxious 17-year-old, laden down by a multitude of test prep books. But for some, applying to college is a process which occurs again, this time as a college student, sitting on a sunny quad or secluded in a dimly lit library. 

Over the years, Mount Holyoke has had its fair share of transfer students. According to the College’s common data set, in the fall of 1998, 55 transfer students were enrolled at Mount Holyoke, and in the fall of 2016, 53 transfer students were enrolled. Among the current set of transfer students are Caroline Castonguay ’20, Anamika Khanal ’20 and Sachie Tran ’19. 

Castonguay, who transferred from the University of Connecticut, toured Mount Holyoke with her sister and immediately fell in love. “I adored the cozy atmosphere and the sense of community,” she said. 

Khanal, who transferred from Ramapo College of New Jersey, decided to attend Mount Holyoke because of major-related opportunities and has since come to enjoy the female-centered experience. “I went to a fairly male-dominated high school,” she said, “which had a negative impact on my confidence and determination. Now that I’m here, I don’t have that problem anymore. I love the engaging classroom discussions, and the fact that everybody is so outspoken, accepting and academically driven.” 

Tran, who attended Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, has found that surrounding herself with motivated students has encouraged her to work more diligently. “I am a double major in computer science and mathematics,” she said. “I am extremely motivated and ready to challenge myself here.”

For all three students, the transfer process was tedious, since they had to complete the application process while maintaining a college course load at the same time. “I applied here and Smith, and got into both,” said Castonguay. “The amount of credits that would transfer was a big concern, but I felt more determined because I had finally found the school of my dreams, so I was very enthusiastic on submitting the best application possible. Failure was not an option because this school was my dream.” 

Conversely, some students find that Mount Holyoke is not a good fit and ultimately transfer out of the College. Frances Eisinger, who transferred to University of Vermont, is one of them.

 “I decided to transfer around March of my first year,” she said, “because I didn’t feel like I found a group of people that I really vibed with. I wanted to go out on weekends and meet boys, but the only places to do that were Amherst and UMass, where I didn’t always feel safe or welcome. I missed having male friends and felt like I missed a perspective on the world since there were no men here.” 

Similarly, Alicia Moroyoqui transferred to Southern Connecticut State University after her first year, in part because she was unhappy with the social climate at Mount Holyoke. “I had been thinking about transferring on and off pretty much since my arrival,” she said. “I found the MoHo bubble more restrictive than encouraging at times and Mount Holyoke can produce some cult-like vibes that I don’t dig. I think I needed a cheaper, larger school.”

Both Eisinger and Moroyoqui found their new institutions more suitable. Eisinger has found herself in a co-ed, busy and populated environment. “It feels more like the real world,” she said. “I will, however, cherish my one year at Mount Holyoke because I learned a lot about social issues, took classes with some excellent professors and learned a lot about myself.” Moroyoqui is also content with her new university. “There is a major difference in the diversity in terms of political ideals, the amount of social opportunity and I feel like I have more independence at my current institution,” she said. 

On the other hand, Katherine Hoppe, who transferred to Barnard College after three semesters at Mount Holyoke, did not go into the process of applying to other colleges set on transferring. “I love Mount Holyoke, but I felt that the geographic and social isolation was enough to at least apply to other colleges and keep my options open.” Hoppe said that she is liking Barnard a lot. “An urban environment is definitely for me, since I am very independent. It is also much easier to take classes at Columbia than within the Five Colleges because it is across the street. The sense of institutional identity at Mount Holyoke is definitely much stronger, but I’ve found that Barnard students are really seen as Columbia students that live in non-coed housing,” she said.

As for Khanal, Tran and Castonguay, they are finding Mount Holyoke to be a comfortable and motivating environment. “I am completely enchanted by Mount Holyoke,” said Castonguay. “I love the food, friends I have made, culture and campus architecture.” 

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