From the Eyes of a Transfer Student

By: Sarah Brill  |  November 21, 2019

By Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor

In August 2017, I started as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman college student. My heart was full of excitement and my head buzzed from all of the stimuli. I was absorbing. As the year went on, I had lost motivation to stay in this new place I called home. By the end of the semester, I was in a burning pit of confusion. The students would blatantly disrespect their bodies. The only comfort I found was in my one friend who happened to dislike the school and what it allowed. And then there was the silent antisemitism, not acknowledged by the faculty or the school, that plagued the campus. The light that guided me through this dark path was the Shabbat dinners and Jewish programming every week. My Judaism kept me tethered to the ground, and that’s when I found Yeshiva University. 

After announcing my decision to transfer to Yeshiva University, I was immediately confronted by a host of people I had not heard from in years. Comments from “congratulations” to “why did you do that?” flooded my social media streams. Needless to say, I did not expect the idea of transferring to be controversial. 

As the summer of 2018 started to wind down, the summer before I began Stern College, I felt the same anxiety I had before. During orientation I was constantly asked: “true freshman or Israel?”,  as if the idea of being a transfer student at this institution was a foreign concept. I soon realized why I was constantly asked this question. The orientation of transfer students was pushed aside. When it came time to register, I was a ball of confusion. I had no idea who the advisor they had set me up with was, and I hadn’t a clue what a ‘J slot’ was. Without my questions being addressed, I was placed into a small line with other transfer students. When it came time for my turn to choose classes, I was met with a critical face, as if it was a crime not knowing what the Judaics requirements are. I made the foolish decision to let the academic advisor take the wheel, and as a result, I was placed in advanced Juadics courses for the rest of the year, which I did not want. Given that the orientation for first-year students is geared toward their needs and abilities, I believe that the transfer student orientation should be the same. 

Regardless of the orientation, I do not believe Yeshiva University properly prepares itself for transfer students. As one, I am in a constant battle with the academic and Judaic departments with regards to my schedule. Every semester, I am forced to take 4 Judaic class requirements, as I am needed to take off-core and on-core classes simultaneously, since I did not take a gap year in Israel. My regular school year is jam-packed, and the same could be said for my summers, as they are filled with courses. It came to my attention recently, that as a transfer student, I would need more biology courses for my major, as 60% of major requirements need to be taken on campus. Because of this, I need to add extra biology courses, in addition to my Judaic courses in the summers. Organized within the past month, my schedule has changed from being a couple of Judaics over the summer (in addition to the 4 courses per semester I am forced to take), to 3 courses over one summer and 2 over another. Even without the added Judaics, a dual curriculum is hard to manage. It can be said with certainty that Yeshiva University needs to change its Judaic course requirements when it pertains to incoming transfer students. 

Nevertheless, my decision to transfer, all in all, was the right one. A lot has changed since my decision to transfer to Yeshiva. For one, the lack of antisemitism is a refreshing change of pace. No longer do I need to think twice before posting or saying something “Jewish.” I now live in a community of acceptance and kindness where our Judaism unites us even in the darkest of times. I no longer feel isolated to my room, as I once did. I can now go outside and engross myself in the culture that New York City has to offer. I believe my decision to transfer was the best choice I could have made regarding my collegiate path, and I am grateful everyday that I made this decision.