Luther College Chips

Luther needs to think about transfer students

Lyndsay Monsen, Copy Editor

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I arrived at Luther College on Sunday August 27, only to be greeted with a “Luther College Class of 2021” mug and an overwhelming sense that I did not belong here. The days that followed were packed with confusion, loneliness, and having to explain at least three dozen times why I transferred. And since I know you will not be able to focus on the rest of this piece unless I tell you my story, here it is.

I transferred from Emerson College in Boston for many reasons. I had been at Emerson for two years, the first of which was incredible. But then several of my friends either transferred or dropped out, and I became less and less passionate about broadcast journalism, which is what I was there to study. I realized that a city school was not for me. Plus, I had been spending my summers working at a Bible camp in Wisconsin, where I found a sense of calling. I always knew as a kid that I loved camp, but it took me until serving on summer staff to realize that it was my passion. So, I came to Luther to pursue a future in outdoor ministry—but it was by no means an easy decision. I realized I wanted to transfer only three months ago, around the end of July. And I made that decision surrounded by a community of Jesus-loving people, where I could see nothing beyond leading devotionals on pontoon boats for a bunch of junior high girls and singing “Radical God” at the top of my lungs. I felt happy; I knew camp was what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life, and I was ready to take a big leap of faith into following that.

Then came August 27. At a school where we focus so much on a sense of community, I can say first-handedly that it downright sucks to feel like you do not have a place in it. But I do not want this to seem like a sob story, because it ultimately isn’t. I have found so many great homes across this campus (including at Chips), met some fantastic people, and really felt like I am meant to be here.

But that does not change the fact that our administration, faculty, and student body can do so much more to welcome and include transfer students. If we can be politically correct enough to say “first-year students” instead of “freshmen,” we can be politically correct enough to extend that to “new students” at Convocation. Maybe we need to train our orientation assistants to not judgingly ask, “but why would you ever leave somewhere like Boston for Iowa?” upon meeting a nervous student for the first time. Let’s take out the part in the “Norse Course” where you physically form the numbers “2021,” because, surprise, that is not the graduation year of everyone participating. And contrary to popular belief professors, not everyone in your classes has taken Paedeia. When applying, the admissions office and Registrar assured me that I would not feel behind because of not taking the infamous course, but it often feels the opposite.

My main point is this: make sure you include transfer students in whatever it is you do on this campus. I cannot speak for all, but my decision to come to Luther was ten times harder than my decision to pick a college the first time around. I still miss my old school, sometimes I miss journalism, and I often find myself wondering if this was the right choice for me. Transfer students are in such a fragile and transitory state, and just because this is not our first rodeo does not mean that we do not ache to fit into the Luther community.

And maybe next year, do not give transfer students a mug that says “Class of 2022.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Luther needs to think about transfer students”

  1. Vicki Uhr on October 20th, 2017 2:20 am

    Thanks for having the courage to talk about “not fitting in”. With all the emphasis on inclusiveness these days, I’m surprised that someone can still feel “left out” at Luther. I came to Luther in fall of 1964 (!) as a freshman. I was an Iowa farm girl, grandchild of Norwegian immigrants, musically gifted. My mother had passed away my sophomore year of H.S., so I was particularly in need of finding community. I stayed two years. For me, the biggest part of feeling non-included came from what I’ll call the “legacy” students. I felt very keenly the social hierarchy; the “in” crowd was comprised of those students who were third or fourth generation Luther attendees. One was not easily invited into their enclave. I did try to fit in – joined a few campus groups. The only place I felt like I was on equal footing was in my music classes and in the Luther College Concert Band (Weston Noble). I will always treasure the musical experiences, but I have never looked back on my time at Luther as satisfying in a community sense. I hope your words will make a difference for you and for others, and that you will ultimately be able to relish your time at Luther in its entirety.

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