College Transfer Student: From Wisconsin to Cornell

Josephine Davis has an interesting story to tell. Her academic journey has taken her from Holton Arms to the University of Wisconsin to Cornell University. In other words, her story is that of a college transfer student, but it’s a positive one.

When Josephine was finishing high school at Holton-Arms, she looked at her choices for college and made her decision based on a personal consideration—a boyfriend. Josephine had been accepted to several outstanding universities—Wisconsin and Michigan to name two. She had also applied to Cornell (where her dad had gone to college), but Cornell, only half the size of Wisconsin and Michigan, considered Josephine competitive but didn’t have room to offer her freshman admission. She was instead offered a spot at Cornell for her sophomore year under its college transfer student option program. So, Josephine looked at her first-year acceptances and knew immediately that she wanted to attend the University of Wisconsin—not because of anything having to do with that university but because that was where her boyfriend was headed. She freely acknowledges that it wasn’t a carefully considered decision and that she simply wanted to follow her heart. All went according to plan—for about a week into her first semester when she and her boyfriend broke up. That was her bump in the road—not an academic one but a personal one.

Josephine is made of tough stuff, though, and she recovered. What’s remarkable is that her personal disappointment didn’t sour her on her Wisconsin experience. She joined a sorority, made friends, did well in her classes, and generally thrived. To this day, if you ask her what she thinks of the University of Wisconsin, she will tell you that it’s a great place.

Throughout her freshman year, however, Josephine had Cornell’s transfer option in the back of her mind. She knew that, to make it happen, she only had to keep her grades up, meet a few basic general education prerequisites and send Cornell an “I’m coming” message. Cornell, after all, had been her first love, and her parents were encouraging her to make the change. This time Josephine thought carefully about the characteristics of the two schools and came to believe that at Cornell she would have different choices, opportunities, and challenges and that she would meet different kinds of people. So, after careful consideration, she decided to tell Cornell that she was coming.

This fall, Josephine will be a student at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations where she plans to be a pre-law major. She isn’t set on being a practicing attorney, but knows that a law degree will open many doors for her. She has no boyfriend awaiting her at Cornell, but does know a couple of other students and isn’t worried in the least about acclimating to her new university. She looks forward to making new friends, getting involved in activities (such as an a cappella group) and taking advantage of Cornell’s study abroad program.

Most people look on transferring as overcoming a problem, but Josephine is positive about her journey as a college transfer student. She doesn’t view her Wisconsin experience as negative or a loss. Far from it! But she realizes that she made her original decision about attending Wisconsin for the wrong reasons. Still, she’s not even upset by that, commenting that we all make mistakes, and that what counts is how we respond to those mistakes and learn from them. Her advice to those making decisions about college is to decide what they want and need from a college and to make decisions based on what’s best for them. Even if it turns out to be a poor choice, however, Josephine’s advice is not to become mired in a bad situation because, after all, there are a million options available. What’s important is to stay strong because it will put you in a good position to make a change—and will give you a stronger foundation for making a good decision the next time you’re at a crossroad.

Sounds like good advice for us all. Well, done, Josephine!