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  • Nora May McSorley and Jacob Snyder

Should I Transfer?

Updated: Mar 2, 2021


By Nora May McSorley

If you’re considering it, then you may actually have the brains admissions thinks you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be contemplating this quandary in the first place. (Exhibit A of what happens when you stay here too long: you start using words like “quandary.”) Well, leave your troubles with the classically-sexist marble statues at the front gates. I’m here to assist ye in distress. Whether you’re a senior with a mere year left here or a freshman stepping onto campus for the very first time, it’s never too late nor too early to get the heck out of here. 

No matter the amount of time you’ve been in this claustrophobic concrete postage-stamp, you’ve likely had a sip of the strange Columbia brew we drink here. I don’t know what the Dean or Dining Staff is spiking it with, but it just makes you feel… different. Even with the smallest of samplings, one tiny taste will have you looking forward to a good study session in Butler, feeling excited for class discussions or, God help us all, willingly showing up to your 8:40’s. We’re all made to drink the Columbia Kool-Aid at some point, whether it be in the room of the boy down the hall who isn’t even that cute (but we’ll be damned if we’re not there anyways), or in the stacks post-11pm, or in the dining hall in the midst of the breakdown we swore we’d relegate to our room. It’s a brew that makes us do what the rational minded—those who exist outside of these Ivy walls—would never think to do.

But you came to me with a question, didn’t you? You wanted to know whether you should transfer or not, to which I respond: heck yeah, man. It’s not that I am questioning your ability to make it through— you got here, you can make it back out. What I am questioning is why you would ever want to. Speaking as a senior and therefore, with infinitely more knowledge than ye, (Exhibit B of what happens when you stay here too long: you’ll learn to brag about anything that hasn’t been beaten out of you by crippling self doubt and deep-seated insecurities. Get ready for those surfing lessons you took as a seven-year-old to finally come in handy) I strongly advise you, my poor, doomed reader, to get out while you can.

College isn’t supposed to “prepare you for life,” it’s supposed to be a four-year hiatus from it. Columbia’s got it all wrong with making its atmosphere as conducive to entering into the workforce as possible. Did we come here to kick-start our lives as proactive professionals or to ignore the fact that we will ever have to become one of those? Who couldn’t use a little break for a year or four? If not now, when? (Exhibit C of what happens when you stay here too long: you find yourself quoting famous and morally-questionable men without even realizing it.)

I’m writing this out of the goodness of my heart; I don’t want you to end up like me. And it has nothing to do with—how could you even imply such a thing!—the fact that your leaving will lessen the competition here. I’m just writing this to warn you that the childhood thing you thought you could cling to for a few more years is a goner the minute you claim the bumpy and borderline-dangerous College Walk as your own. Sure, you’ll have your every meal provided to you and you’ll find a willing mate within a four-floorradius, but other than that this is real life, baby. Don’t listen to the dorks here who call studying anything other than the draining of one’s life-force. Listen to me: a former-cool kid who wishes they had read an article like this before deciding to go through with her time here. Look at me now: spending my Friday night writing an article that a total of seven people will get all the way through. If that’s not a cautionary tale, I don’t know what is. If you value your sleep, sanity, and a social life that exists outside of library walls, then yes, affirmative, trans-the heck-fer.


By Jacob Snyder

Quick! Stop what you’re doing! Sit up straight, take measured breaths, and notice the position of your tongue in your mouth. Now put this magazine down for a moment and close your eyes to ask yourself this question: Am I a first-year at Columbia?

If the answer is yes, you should stop reading here. You don’t need yet another schmuck with his nose in the air to assure you that you’ve made it—welcome to the Greatest University in the Greatest City in the Greatest Country etc. etc. If you were accepted, there’s a good chance the rewards of a vibrant and challenging educational environment, and possibly even happiness—all of that awaits you here, and so on and so forth. Give it a shot.

Now, you may have found yourself in the unusual circumstance where your answer to the above question is “I don’t know.” If that’s you, don’t worry! I’ve devised a simple, foolproof test for determining whether or not you are, in fact, a Columbia first-year. Take a minute to evaluate the following further questions for yourself:

1) Do you think of Carman as a real-life location?

2) Have I taken the Staten Island Ferry within the last three weeks ‘just to see the sights?

3) Have I ever hooked up with someone who asked me if I was born after 9/11?

4) Do I find Ferris’ eggs at all edible?

5) Would I feel only a little bit too old to fit in at a Billie Eilish concert?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are a first-year. In that case, stop reading here and see my above exhortation to give this place a fair try before you decide to leave or stay in perpetuity.

Now that we’ve weeded out any wide-eyed, hopeful first years, let’s get to the interesting stuff. It’s fair to assume that if you’re reading this far into the article then you’re either a Columbia student who’s not a first year or you’re my dad. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you’re not my dad. Should you transfer?

The short answer is this: if you feel the need to consider the question in earnest, the answer is no. Trust me, anyone who would entirely benefit from transferring away from Columbia doesn’t see it as a matter of deliberation—for them, it’s like an animal impulse that will respond to no weighing of pros against cons. These people are simply beyond my help.

But maybe you really are on the fence. Maybe you—inexplicably and (let’s be honest, here) stupidly—see this satirical article in this partially-satirical publication as a tool for facilitating a life-altering decision. In that case, allow me to speak to you as sincerely as possible, imparting what I can from one Columbia sophomore/junior/senior to another.

This place can be hard. It can be soul-crushing. It can drive you to the brink of insanity. But isn’t that part of its charm? Would you really want to leave behind Columbia’s over-demanding and pedagogically controversial requirements system in favor of a hippy-dippy, choose-your-own-adventure stoner-curriculum like Brown’s? Is that really what you want?

Would you really want to abandon the magical social environment afforded by Columbia, where you can belong to one of many economically-stratified cliques tenuously and implicitly united by a prejudiced resentment of outsiders? What are you, some kind of little baby? Maybe you should transfer and leave the rest of us buttoned-down Columbians alone, you flat-footed commie!

So there you go, that’s my honest-to-God advice. Hope it helps!

Oh, and if you are my dad, then hi dad! I’m loving it here. I’ll call you on Sunday night.


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