Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Spring Transfers Ready for Round Two

All first-year students leave something behind when they come to Whitman College–– home, friends, routines––but students transferring from other colleges mid-year get to say those goodbyes twice.

Restarting the college experience completely can be painful, but most students who transfer here in January agree nobody does a better job of providing a comfortable transition than Whitman students.

When he received his admission to Whitman College, first-year Eric Conte was sitting with his best friend in the Linfield College dining hall, realizing

Photo by Allie Felt
Photo by Allie Felt

it might be the last time he would be in that same position.

“It was emotional. My heart kind of sank,” said Conte.

Conte, along with many other Whitman transfer students who start during the spring term, are often attracted to Whitman because they want a more challenging academic experience and a tighter campus community, but they struggle to break the personal connections they have already built.

The reasons students choose to transfer vary dramatically. Some are tired of walking 45 minutes to get to their classes, while others feel far from home or unwelcome.

A few weeks into the semester at Linfield, Conte grew tired of the closed-off environment that seemed to be inescapable on campus. He remembers taking a long time to learn the names of the people in his hall and finding it hard to break into different social circles.

Even after Conte received his admittance to Whitman, he still wasn’t sure he wanted to transfer for the next semester. He originally deferred his admission for a semester, but later he changed his mind.

“I felt like, if you get to pick the school that you go to you should love it. I liked Linfield by the end of the semester, but I didn’t love it,” he said.

When Conte arrived at Whitman he immediately felt regrets about his decision, worrying that he had made his life harder unnecessarily. But once other students started to arrive on campus, Conte realized he was in the right place.

“I’ve only been here for a little over a week, but I feel really comfortable already,” he said.

Photo by Allie Felt
Photo by Allie Felt

Sophomore Zoe Buck, a spring transfer from New York University, was ready for a more connected campus after spending her last three semesters at a school with an enrollment of 40,000 students sprawling throughout the heart of Manhattan.

Buck felt her time at NYU was well spent, but after sitting through 200-person lectures led by teaching assistants, she knew she wanted a small school experience.

“It was hard to leave, but I felt like I had valid reasons to make the decision I made,” said Buck.

The difference in level of involvement struck Buck as soon as she arrived for orientation. At NYU she remembers orientation being brief and hands off, but at Whitman it was a very different experience.

“The schedule was packed. They put a lot of effort into it, and they definitely care a lot,” she said.

First-year transfer Geoffrey Leach agreed that being kept busy during spring orientation helped him feel supported during his transition. Leach, who is originally from Mercer Island, Wash., enrolled at Colby College in Maine last fall. Just two weeks into school, he decided it was time to come home.

“Part of it was that it was too far away from home, and part of it was that the school was in the middle of nowhere. I had a feeling of being trapped at

Photo by Allie Felt
Photo by Allie Felt

Colby,” said Leach.

Some transfer students’ journeys to Whitman take less direct paths. When senior and former mid-year transfer Ben Eisenhardt started looking at colleges during high school, he thought his brother was crazy for considering small schools like Whitman.

“Whitman wasn’t what I expected myself wanting when I was 18,” said Eisenhardt.

But after two years at Cal Poly, Eisenhardt wanted a change. Because his decision to transfer to Whitman came late, he was forced to wait another semester before he could enroll. He spent the semester taking classes at Walla Walla Community College and sitting in on basketball practices to familiarize himself with the team.

Eisenhardt recalled how some of his teammates on the Cal Poly basketball team had girls doing their homework for them––a far cry from his experience with the Whitman basketball program.

“We have kids here across the board who really care about their academics, kids who are ready to have great conversations about current events or personal opinions. Those aren’t conversations that I was used to having in my athletic world,” he said.

When he was finally able to start classes at Whitman, he says having prior college experience allowed him to appreciate Whitman in a unique way.

“In a smaller classroom, it’s almost impossible to get away with not doing the reading. The accountability is really challenging and fun to get used to,” said Eisenhardt.

As the spring semester is underway, mid-year transfer students can start thinking about what lies ahead.

Conte has his eyes set on the fall, when he will be able to play his friends on Linfield’s home turf.

“It’s going to be a battle. I don’t want to have to hear about it,” he said.

Eisenhardt knows what it’s like to be the new kid on a couple different college campuses. He hopes transfer students this year will take advantage of the welcoming quality of Whitman students.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to people,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to say hi.”

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