A Whole New World

Each semester, transfer students breathe new life into the Harvard community

Adam S. Hickey '99 felt like a traitor.

Hickey, who transferred to Harvard last fall, knew his days at Davidson College were numbered. But he kept that secret from even his closest friends.

"Throughout the year, I wore two faces--the Davidson face and the transfer face," he says. "I felt dishonest and dirty."

Hickey, who became a Crimson editor his first semester here, chose to give up the familiarity and security of attending a college close to home, where he had made several close friends, for the challenge of studying at Harvard.

The Currier House sophomore set foot in Cambridge in September having never received the College handbook, the course catalog or the Unofficial Guide. And he hadn't yet passed the QRR.


It wasn't the easiest task, but Hickey and 101 other transfer students are now completing their first semester. And while some of the students interviewed have complaints about the transfer process, its advising program and the Harvard bureaucracy, none of them would trade their experiences for the world.

"At Harvard, the levels of bureaucracy are amazing," Hickey says. "No one said, 'Here I am, let me coddle you.' It's not comfortable [being on my own], but it's a part of growing up."

Smoothing the Transition

Mari E. Foreman '99 also transfered from a small school--Pepperdine College in southern California. She, too, missed the personal touch of her old school.

"By the time I left Pepperdine, I had eaten dinner in all five of my professor's homes," Foreman says. "There were no TF's, and there was a greater sense of school community. There were times when the entire student body came together."

Foreman, a native of Washington state, says the assignments and reading lists at Harvard are larger than at Pepperdine. But the school's small class sizes, she says, prepared her well academically.

Her greatest Harvard challenge was that she needed to choose a concentration within five weeks after starting classes. "You feel a little rushed," she says.

The Winthrop House sophomore says she regrets missing the uniquely first-year experience of living in Harvard Yard and eating in Annenberg Hall. But, she adds, she has become integrated into campus life because "all sophomores are new to the houses anyway. That's the way to do it--splitting up transfers and tying them immediately to the community."

Gene C. McAfee, co-ordinator of transfer students and visiting undergraduates, agrees: "A decade ago, transfer students didn't live in the houses. It used to be that they were kept in a class by themselves and held a little bit apart. Now the direction of the college is to integrate transfers quickly and smoothly into the houses."

McAfee organizes two events to help transfers get through those crucial first weeks of school--a lengthy meeting outlining the College's expectations and regulations and a dinner at Pforzheimer House with senior tutors and concentration heads.