Somewhere in the middle of complaining about Introduction to the Humanities (IHUM) and watching a meteor shower with friends at 2 a.m., Stanford became home. But at the same time that all 1,700 bright-eyed freshmen arrived on campus and were learning how to navigate its perilous bike roundabouts and newfound freedoms, the small but mighty transfer class of ’13 was also settling in, experiencing a new–albeit different–transitional process of their own.
Making it through the steep 1.9 percent transfer admit rate, these transfer students now call Stanford home after stints at other universities. So how does Stanford compare to their past schools? All the transfers agreed that the caliber of academics was the main thing that attracted them to Stanford, but the Farm’s unique campus and entrepreneurial life were also draws.
“I was also admitted to four other top schools besides Stanford, but specifically chose Stanford,” said Ravshan Abzalov ‘11, who transferred from Drexel University. “I think that Stanford is a unique university and differs much from its east coast peers.” Abzalov said that Stanford’s “entrepreneurial and innovative environment” and “inspiring campus” have measured up to his initial expectations and he has enjoyed the challenging classes, dorm life and his involvement with Alpha Kappa Psi immensely.
Rebekah Silva ’11, a transfer from Riverside Community College, agreed.
“I was admitted to several schools as a transfer student, but Stanford was my first choice for many reasons. The Stanford alumni I have met have been more than impressive and it was actually alumni who encouraged me to apply,” Silva said. “Second, Stanford’s chemistry department is world-renowned and I wanted to receive instruction from the department’s professors and participate in undergraduate research. I also knew that I wanted a campus that was beautiful, full of greenery and peaceful. Stanford’s campus is all of those things!”
Getting in and committing was only the beginning, however. As most freshmen quickly realize, Stanford moves fast and transfer student Diana Munoz ’11 can confirm that Stanford’s high price tag does not buy you a picnic.
“It was definitely difficult to adjust to the speed of the quarter system, but I think now I will be better prepared for the winter quarter,” Munoz said. “The work load is a lot more than I used to experience at my community college, but the material is just fascinating, so it makes it worthwhile.”
“The pace is a bit faster than I’m used to, but I’m managing it fine,” said Lena Schoemaker ’11, a transfer from the University of Utah. “I still think that semesters are the way to go, but it’s nice having classes done faster in the year. There are so many opportunities on campus that it’s sometimes hard to manage one’s time between academics, social and extra-curricular activities!”
It wasn’t just the difficulty of pacing and scheduling that the transfers had to adjust to, either. Stanford’s tough classes definitely lived up to the expectations of our challenge-seeking transfers.
Silva readily acknowledged that fall quarter was a hard-won battle, especially after she was struck with a bout of H1N1 right before back-to-back midterms. Despite the setback, she proudly emerged with an “A” in Math 51.
“Stanford is really difficult! The problem-sets and exams can be mind-numbing,” Silva said. “Some of my experiences have been a real baptism by fire. But I knew I would be challenged and Stanford has certainly not disappointed.”
“Academically, Stanford is more challenging than Drexel,” Abzalov agreed. “[The] curriculum is more rigorous and midterms are not as straightforward. Most of the time, you really need to think outside of the box to come up with the right answer. My first encounter with the rigor of testing at Stanford was my first Stats midterm where for the first time in my academic career I wasn’t able to finish the test in the time given. That was like WOW! I realize that I am at Stanford now!”
However, the personal connections and friendship made throughout college can be equally if not more important than the academics and the transfer process undeniably takes a toll upon these relationships.
“Adjusting is much more difficult than I had anticipated,” confided Farbod Faraji ’11, who holds the touchy distinction of being a transfer student from our nemesis, UC-Berkely. “People are very elated to hear that I got accepted to Stanford, but fail to realize how difficult it is to leave a school, especially the comfort level there and all the valuable connections and friends made over the years.”
Schoemaker had similar sentiments.
“Socially, there are many great people on campus but sometimes it’s hard to break into the scene since we weren’t here our freshman year so we weren’t integrated right away into social situations,” she said.
Overall, the transfers reported positive experiences, despite some initial difficulties. The efforts of the administration and residential staff have not gone overlooked, either.
“The faculty, student body and the Kimball student staff have been more than welcoming,” Silva said. “I could not imagine being anywhere else.”
Becoming a Cardinal also means tapping into the great sense of pride that permeates and unites our campus.
“There is a bigger sense of pride here,” Munoz said. “My worst moment [of fall quarter] was losing to Cal and having my friends from there give me heat about it!”
“Stanford offered a great community and sense of belonging that I didn’t feel a part of at my other school,” Schoemaker echoed. “Last quarter I had a class that was two floors below ground and after one of the classes the elevator was out of commission and wasn’t going to be running for a couple hours. Since I’m in a wheelchair and need to use the elevator, the students and TAs in my class carried me and my wheelchair up four flights of stairs to get me outside.”
So, was Stanford the right choice?
“I think it was the right choice for me because Stanford offers me opportunities that UC-Berkeley could not,” Faraji said.
Munoz is also very sure of her decision.
“Transferring to Stanford was definitely the right choice for me. This school challenges me intellectually as well as socially,” Munoz said. “I love being able to meet people from all parts of the world and have meaningful and intellectual conversations!”