Q&A With a Transfer Student

By Siena Swift ‘23

Transferring to a different college is a big decision. This week, I interviewed my friend and housemate, Lilly Haave, about her experience transferring from Barnard College to Pomona College. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself? 

A: My name is Lilly. I transferred from Barnard after my freshman year, and now I’m a rising junior at Pomona College. I’m from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and am majoring in Classics.

Q: Why did you decide to transfer?

A: I realized that Barnard wasn’t a good fit for me. I felt that because it was really integrated with Columbia University, it was too big. The professors didn’t really have a lot of time to spend with individual students, and the classes were bigger than I expected. I didn’t really like the city, it was hectic and not very personal. I felt like there were just so many students at the university that the administration didn’t really have time for undergraduates. 

Q: Why Pomona?

Pomona students with banner welcoming transfer studentsA: I felt like Pomona’s location was a perfect mixture between a city and a small town. You have access to stores like Target nearby, but the feel of Claremont itself is really great. The workers at Bert & Rocky’s Cream Co remember me and remember my favorite flavors! The classes are really small, which I love, and the professors have so much time for you. Professor Richard McKirahan offered to teach me Greek when he heard I was in between levels, which I feel like a lot of professors at other universities wouldn’t have the time to do. 

Q: How was the transfer process for you?

A: Actually, for some reason, the transfer Common App was so much harder than the first-year one. The interface is more difficult to navigate. I had to get back in touch with my high school teachers because I needed my high school transcript and stuff, but that was fine. I had to get my Barnard professors to sign off saying that my current grades were good, and I had to get some letters of recommendation. There were a lot of essays you have to write about why you want to transfer, and actually doing the process made me feel more sure about my decision. Writing about why I wanted to transfer and why Barnard wasn’t the right fit — and why Pomona was — really secured that decision for me.

Q: How does Pomona support transfer students?

group of students sitting in chairs outside eating pizzaA: All the transfers live together in a hall with two sophomore sponsors. Being in that sponsor group was amazing, I felt like I already had a support network of people who were going through the same thing. I was really worried that I was going to feel really alone because I didn’t know anybody, but having that community was really awesome. Individual professors were very understanding when I was trying to get into classes. Also, there were dinners for transfers where we talked to students who had transferred in past years. We had our own representative at the registrar’s office who dealt specifically with transfer students. I also really liked going on Orientation Adventure –— I felt like that was really helpful.

Q: Do you have any advice for prospective transfers? 

Lily sitting outside with 6 friends on grassA: You should really look at the values of each college you’re thinking of transferring to. A lot of times people think those are just words that colleges say, but I think they really do reflect the beliefs of the students and the professors. Also, just apply and see how it feels. The moment I got into Pomona, I was so sure. I want to tell students who are considering transferring to Pomona that they should go for it. A lot of people ask me, “Do I have a shot?” Yes, you do! Most people think they don’t, but you do. 

Q: Why Classics at Pomona?

Lily sitting on ledge between columns, reading a bookI freaking love the department. All the professors are so kind and spend so much time with you. I’ve always loved Classics, it’s always there for you. You feel like you’re time traveling and speaking to people from the past. Also, Professor Chris Chinn brings his dog, Roxy, to school every day.