Whether standing in line at the Tea Shop or sitting at a desk in class, new faces have been popping up all over campus this semester with the admittance of new students. Most of these new students have transferred to Mills from outside colleges. In fact, roughly half of all new students at Mills College every year are transfer students.
The student population of Mills College changes greatly from semester to semester with the addition of transfer students of various ages who come mainly from other colleges in California.
There are two categories of transfer students: traditional transfers, averaging about 21 years of age, and transfer resumers, who average at 32 years of age.
Most transfer students start at Mills as sophomores. The majority of transfers come from California and well over half of them are locals of the Bay Area.
Terra Schehr, the Mills Institutional Research analyst, said that students who transfer to a different college are not unusual. She estimated that almost half of all college students end up transferring to another college with about 25 to 30 percent attending three colleges in their academic life. Yet, transfer students are most likely here to stay, as 81 percent are expected to graduate from Mills.
Transfer students are drawn to Mills College for a variety of reasons including small class size, a women-centered environment, and specific academic departments.
Sophomore Caitlin Ferguson, new to Mills this semester, transferred from El Camino Community College because she discovered through an Internet search for colleges that Mills had an international relations major.
“I was looking for a good international relations program and Mills has a great one. It has a good and welcoming environment. This rocks,” Ferguson said.
Her decision to come to Mills did not derive from the fact that it is an all women’s school for undergraduates.
“It was more an academic choice than the fact that it was all women’s,” said Ferguson. “Once I found out that it was an all girls’ school, it made me excited because my sister enjoyed her all women’s college experience.”
Freshwoman Adina Lepp is another transfer student who entered this spring semester from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. “I came to Mills to be challenged and engaged,” she said. “I came to this school expecting it to be an intense and creative learning environment.”
Lepp said that the fact that Mills is a women’s college was not a factor in her decision to apply, although she has come to appreciate the distinction. “When I applied, I didn’t think about it very much,” she said. “In retrospect, I see that the importance of the all women’s college in my life is invaluable. Basically, the classroom dynamics have altered in a way that can only serve to benefit me as a woman.”
Freshwoman Becky Nelson, who transferred from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon this semester, said that an all women’s education was not the determining factor in why she chose Mills but felt that it was an added bonus.
“The main reason I came was because of the strong dance department, which is what I want to major in. Being in an all women’s school definitely was way up on my list of positive aspects of this school,” said Nelson, at home in her new dorm room in Warren Olney Hall.
Junior Jennifer Garvey, who transferred from UC Davis, also commented that being here is quite a change from her previous school. “It’s a completely different world. Davis had more choices for classes and offered them more often. Mills isn’t large enough to have political diversity, but it has a lot more guidance. [At Mills] everything exists on a smaller scale and it’s easier to try different things, and there’s more interaction with people who can mentor you.”
Resumer transfer student Esther Lucero said that Mills is the ideal choice for women of non-traditional college age. “We [resumers] always joke about it because we feel spoiled,” she said. “The classes are smaller and we have a voice. At city college you have to seek everything out and at Mills it’s handed to you on a platter.”
Mills strives to be fair in admitting as many credits as possible from outside colleges with a few exceptions, according to Registrar Alice Knudsen. She said the amount of credits assigned to a course transfers over to Mills for the same amount of credit. The only two circumstances where credits absolutely cannot transfer in from other colleges include practical training courses and any math course lower than pre-calculus.
Transfer student Caitlin Ferguson said that whether or not Mills is the right choice depends on the student.
“As much as I love it [Mills], the next person might hate it. It’s an individual decision.”