Within my first week at Notre Dame the phrase “My old school didn’t have the major I wanted” probably came out of my mouth 20 times. “So, why did you transfer?” was the age-old question. It was an unspoken rule among my transfer peers and myself that we would add our previous school to our Notre Dame introduction: “Hi my name is Annie, I am from New York and I am a sophomore who transferred from Binghamton University, which is a state school in New York.”
It is well known that Notre Dame is a bubble, and I have found myself in the transfer bubble within the Notre Dame bubble — very meta. I figured I would try to burst these bubbles by sharing my personal experience of what it feels like to transfer from a medium-to-large sized, research-based, 75-year-old, public university with Greek-life and no football in upstate New York to a mid-sized, private, Catholic, 180-year-old university in South Bend, Indiana. The one similarity: being in the middle of nowhere.
I was super fortunate to meet the people I did at the multiple events that Notre Dame hosted for transfers.There are approximately 50 students who transferred to Notre Dame this year, eight of whom are from St. Mary’s. The rest hail from a wide variety of schools — from Boston College and Clemson to Syracuse and UT Austin. Talking to transfers was so easy because we could all relate to being at schools so starkly different from Notre Dame. Most of us hadn’t taken a theology class. We had lived in co-ed dorms. We actually could find parties on Tuesday nights. When I tell some of my Binghamton friends about parietals and seeing priests walking around, they almost don’t believe me.
I was one of the many transfers who had applied to Notre Dame as a senior in high school but did not receive the confettied acceptance letter that you all had the pleasure of reading. However, there were also transfers I know who didn’t even apply to Notre Dame as a high school senior, or, in one case, got in and decided against it.
I often miss the luxuries of going to a state school in New York. Almost everyone was from near where I lived, and we could always carpool. There was always a frat party to dance at with friends. I would light the menorah with my Jewish friends around Hanukkah and had a kosher food station in our dining halls. The tuition was very nice. And the biggest luxury of all? I wasn’t drowning in school work every second of every day.
So, if we circle back to the age-old question, “Why did you transfer?” I would be fibbing a little if I really said it was because Binghamton didn’t have my major (who actually wants to do chemical engineering anyway?). I began to realize that most Notre Dame students will never know the feeling of having your heart set on a school and being rejected. Having to instead go to a school that you think you are overqualified for, having to go through the entire application process again and bracing yourself in case you get rejected again a year later.
I wouldn’t give up my year at a state school for the world. I met some of the most amazing people, excelled in classes, joined a bunch of clubs and didn’t have to take a plane to get there. But we all know that Notre Dame just has something special. The transfer class just had to dig that much harder to get to it