New school, new country: Moloto on the international transfer experience

Photo courtesy of Tumi Moloto ’20  Tumi Moloto ’20 transferred to Mount Holyoke  from the University of Pretoria her sophomore year.

Photo courtesy of Tumi Moloto ’20

Tumi Moloto ’20 transferred to Mount Holyoke

from the University of Pretoria her sophomore year.


As a prestigious liberal arts institution, Mount Holyoke College attracts students from a myriad of places around the globe. In most cases, these students attend Mount Holyoke directly after high school. But the College also attracts a fair number of transfer students, both domestic and international.

According to the College’s transfer admissions page, approximately 50 new transfer students join Mount Holyoke’s community each year. Eligible candidates for transfer admission “must have earned 16 credits at another institution, present strong academic records, and share the qualities common to Mount Holyoke students: intellectual curiosity, strong motivation, and an engaged learning style.”

Additionally, transfer students are expected to fulfill the same degree requirements as students who spend all four years at the College, and may transfer courses to fulfill some of these credits.

Tumi Moloto ’20, who transferred to Mount Holyoke from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, said that she did not have any difficulties transferring her credits — instead, Moloto described her biggest challenges as adjusting to the U.S. education system and adapting to her new environment without some of the supports offered to first-year students.

Since Moloto was an international transfer who entered Mount Holyoke in her sophomore year, she was exempt from taking a small, discussion-based “First-Year Seminar” which focuses on building the foundations for a liberal arts education.

“It is definitely a challenge because you are adjusting to a new culture and academic system at the same time,” she said, “but instead of having 100-level classes and First-Year Seminars to acclimate you, you are thrown into the deep end and start by taking upper-level classes.”

Additionally, given that transfer students must fulfill the same degree requirements as non-transfer students, most of them are discouraged from taking 100-level classes their sophomore, junior and senior years. But according to Moloto, not taking introductory courses “did not help make the transition between academic systems and cultures easier.”

Moloto eventually decided to transfer from the University of Pretoria because she had aspired to study abroad at one point in her academic career. Initially, she planned on attending Fordham University for an exchange program. However, upon meeting Carolyn Dietel, director of Mount Holyoke’s Frances Perkins Program and Transfer Affairs, Moloto began to consider fully transferring to Mount Holyoke.

“My mom had suggested Mount Holyoke because of its Critical Social Thought program,” Moloto said. “Funnily enough, I did not end up majoring or minoring in Critical Social Thought, but I am so glad that I decided on Mount Holyoke and I would not change my decision if I could go back.”

Although Moloto was content with her decision to transfer, she said that being an international transfer student at Mount Holyoke was often isolating. “There are very few international transfer students at Mount Holyoke, which makes it hard to build a community of students who are going through similar difficulties,” Moloto said. “As an international transfer student, you are also either being given advice based on the fact that you are an international student, which is more geared towards first-years, or a transfer student, which is more geared towards domestic transfers.”

When asked to compare and contrast Mount Holyoke and the University of Pretoria, Moloto commented on Mount Holyoke’s lack of diversity when it came to representing students of color. “The University of Pretoria is more diverse,” she said. “However, when you look at the percentage of POCs in the U.S. and S.A., students of color are generally underrepresented. So, I would say that at both institutions, there is a lack of students of color.”

Moloto said that Mount Holyoke’s residential campus was one of her favorite things about attending the College. “The University of Pretoria wasn’t a residential campus, and there is definitely a far greater sense of being a community here,” she said. Living in the Shirley Chisholm and Mosaic Living-Learning Communities (LLCs) also helped Moloto to feel a greater sense of community. “We all live, eat, breathe, work and study together,” she said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Tumi Moloto as a member of the class of 2021.