For a small group of students who are on campus for the first time this spring semester, Ithaca College is a fresh experience, even in the dead of winter.
After her first semester at University of Rhode Island, freshman Haley Brennan said she was worried that college may not be right for her and was reluctant to try again.
“I had a pretty rough semester at URI. I was really unhappy,” Brennan said. “I didn’t really connect with people at URI. It was a big fraternity-sorority culture, and that’s not me. I felt so in a bubble … you couldn’t get off campus if you tried.”
Brennan is a Rochester native, and she said being over seven hours away from home was a struggle for her. The college also had a much better film program to offer, Brennan, a documentary studies major, said.
“Here it was the perfect distance from home, and it was one of the best film schools in the country,” Brennan said. “People here just seem to care more about what they’re studying.”
Brennan is among a small demographic of students who choose to enroll at the college in the spring rather than the fall. In the fall semesters of 2010–14, the college enrolled an average of 122 out of an average applicant pool of about 552 transfer students, according to the common data set. In the spring, an average of about 41 new transfer students were enrolled over the past five years, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research.
Admissions director Gerard Turbide said via email that admission for the spring is no more competitive than in the fall, and the amount of fall admission informs space for spring applicants. The exception, Turbide said, is in the music and theater departments, where opportunities for admission are “extremely limited, and in some years, nonexistent.”
Tate Dremstedt said he chose the college because of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and the smaller size. At Indiana University, which enrolled over 46,000 undergraduates in the fall, Dremstedt said it takes 50 minutes to walk from one end of campus to another.
“I really liked how Ithaca was a smaller school, because it’s a better way of keeping in contact with people and networking yourself,” he said.
In Indiana, Dremstedt had an internship where he worked on hunger and homelessness issues in his hometown, and he said he is eager to get involved with student organizations and the greater Ithaca community.
“Bloomington has [about] 30 percent of its population living below the poverty line, which is actually really similar to Ithaca,” Dremstedt said. “I’ve contacted Loaves and Fishes and some other nonprofits here.”
Dremstedt, who will either be a sophomore or a junior depending on how his credits transfer, said though so far he is happy with his new school, it is difficult to meet people all over again.
“At IU I had a pretty good network of people, and it’s weird to be like the freshman again,” Dremstedt said.
According to the college’s website, credits earned with a grade of C- or higher will usually transfer, but each course a student attempts to transfer is evaluated individually and may be disallowed. Additionally, the undergraduate catalogue says transfer students have the option to pick an Integrated Core Curriculum theme available only to them, called Liberal Arts and Society. Akin to the freshman seminar, a transfer seminar is also offered but may be worth only one or no credits.
Dan Davidson is a part of an even tinier group that is enrolled as incoming freshmen in the spring. Data from the college’s Office of Institutional Research for spring semesters 2010–14 show the annual enrollment of freshmen in the spring ranges from just four to nine students.
Davidson originally enrolled at University of Hartford for a seven-year physical therapy program.
“I sort of made — I don’t know if I would say rash — maybe, too quick [of a decision] to go to Hartford,” he said.
Davidson did take a roundabout way of becoming a Bomber, but it’s a journey he said he is happy with. After his first year at Hartford, Davidson left school and started working, and then realized he wanted to travel.
“I looked up programs where you could travel and study at the same time,” Davidson said. “So I went to Israel for six months to a kibbutz — in Israel it’s like it’s own community, and they’re pretty much self-sustaining.”
Upon returning from Israel, Davidson realized it was time to go back to school. He enrolled at the college in the exploratory program.
“I probably should have come here first, honestly,” Davidson said. “But everything happens for a reason.”
Brennan, Dremstedt and Davidson each said they were warmly welcomed to the college and, so far, have a positive outlook on their futures at the college.