Transferring from one college to another can be a jarring change in the life of a student. It comes with its own set of struggles and benefits, but also the opportunity for a fresh start.
With around 40 transfer students coming to Northwestern every year, the transfer demographic is larger than some might think. Many students each year are looking for something different from their college experience and get to explore that at NW.
Sophomore Sutton Derr, junior Lexi Van Surksum and senior Emmalyne Farwell are all transfer students at NW. This is Derr and Van Surksum’s first year here, and Farwell’s second.
Van Surksum said that the decision to transfer was not a difficult one to make.
“I chose to transfer because I knew my major was stronger at NW and I had more friends here than I did at Dordt,” Van Surksum said. “I knew I would be happier at NW, and I just felt it was where I needed to be.”
Farwell had a similar experience of not being happy at her first college and feeling God calling her somewhere else. “I chose NW because although I had no intentions of attending here, God had different plans,” Farwell said. “I felt Him calling me to take a leap of faith and follow him to Orange City. It sounds cliché, but I have never experienced anything quite like the community here. This community has become my family.”
Like Farwell, Van Surksum is happy at NW. “The friends I had, the ones I’ve made and especially my professors are all making my transition so easy,” Van Surksum said. “I don’t have any doubts that I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
Derr said that it was difficult to leave behind what he knew, but also says that he knew right when he visited that he was going to like NW.
For many transfer students, the transition can be very difficult. Some describe it as feeling like they are starting all over again as a freshman.
Senior Associate Director of Admissions Jeff Guthmiller has heard about this feeling many times, as he is the main contact for transfer students. He follows up with the students once they indicate an interest in NW and helps them through the process of enrollment.
“Some [transfer students] don’t know exactly where they fit in,” Guthmiller said. “They are not freshmen, but they are still new here. However, I think NW does a great job of welcoming them.”
Farwell can attest to this. “Being a transfer student can be rough at times,” Farwell said. “People seem to have already established who their friends are, so making friends can be intimidating. However, I have found that people at NW are incredibly welcoming and are always open to developing new friendships.”
It is always beneficial to help transfer students with their fresh start.
“I want people to know that even though you think you have every part of your college experience mapped out, there are always surprises,” Derr said.
Transfer student stories are reminders that life doesn’t always go the way it seems it’s going to go, and sometimes that’s okay. Though they might not be on campus a full four years, transfer students will always be a big part of NW.