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Transfer Nation: Sixteen students embark on first semester at Notre Dame in the spring

| Friday, January 24, 2020

Last week, as most students were returning for their second semester of the 2019-2020 academic year, 16 new undergraduates were beginning their very first semester at Notre Dame, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions reported.

“In the fall, the entire University is welcoming new students — new first-year students, new transfer students — we’re all thinking there are new people here,” said Erin Camilleri, the director of transfer enrollment. “In the spring, people are kind of in their zone and doing their thing. So I always think that it’s a little bit harder to transfer in the spring. It takes a student who has a really strong desire to be here.”

A wide variety of students choose to matriculate spring semester. Some of these students, Camilleri said, are student-athletes who are starting their athletic training early, the semester before their freshman season begins. Others are students who were admitted for enrollment in the fall but, due to personal circumstances, chose to defer their enrollment until spring semester.

A third category of spring enrollees, however, are selected from a separate pool of applicants. These students have attended a different college or university for at least three semesters, Camilleri said, and they have chosen to enroll at Notre Dame halfway through the academic year. 

Camilleri estimated that about 100 students apply from this third category each year. This year, only four students enrolled from that pool of applicants. The selection process, she said, is highly competitive.

When looking at the applications of spring-semester transfers, the University considers how these students will handle the unique transition. First, the University must ensure that these students’ previous coursework will transfer smoothly, keeping the students on track to graduate with their credits, Camilleri said.

“The further you get on [in school], the more difficult it is to align a different institution’s curriculum with our curriculum,” Camilleri said. “So we’re really looking to see [the] students get slotted in nicely.”

Additionally, Camilleri said the admissions committee considers whether the students will be able to quickly immerse themselves in the Notre Dame community, making connections and friendships even though they are arriving on campus later than most students.

“They need to bring a sense of adventure and excitement with them,” she said. “And it takes a student who’s willing to be flexible — [a] student who really want[s] to be here.”

New students arriving in the fall begin the semester with four days of programming that’s designed to build community and adjust students to campus life. But for new students arriving in the spring, that Welcome Weekend programming is distilled into only a day and a half, Camilleri said. The spring Welcome Weekend is coordinated and overseen by other transfer students who have already been through the transition.

“‘Transfer Nation,’ so to speak — the people who call themselves ‘Transfer Nation’ — they really do look out for one another,” Camilleri said.

Junior Nyakeh Tuchscherer transferred after three semesters at St. John’s University, which he attended until the fall of his sophomore year before opting to transfer to Notre Dame. His decision to transfer was largely fueled by his academic interests — Notre Dame offered more resources for research and international opportunities, Tuchscherer said.

But the transition — environmentally and socially — was somewhat challenging. Moving from New York City to South Bend, he was not initially prepared for the Notre Dame culture, which is more insular and homogenous than St. John’s, Tuchscherer said. Nevertheless, he’s glad he made the decision to transfer.

“I have no regrets [about] transferring, even though it’s totally different and it’s not what I expected,” Tuchscherer said. “I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I’ve been getting today if it weren’t for Notre Dame, so I’m very thankful and glad to be here. That’s a privilege.”

Camilleri said students who transfer tend to be highly involved, picking up extracurriculars that help them meet other students and connect with the campus community. Bringing fresh perspectives and strong school spirit, she said they add unique value to the school.

“It takes a special person to be a transfer student,” Camilleri said. “I think one of the best things about them is that they have a wonderful sense of excitement for the University. I think that transfer students, as a whole, enrich the student body tremendously.”

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