Past experiences helps transfer student Adjust

College is often portrayed on a large campus with crazy football games, loud parties and long nights in the library. There are large elm trees, students doing homework on blankets, packed dining halls and of course, members of the opposite sex. While many students can identify with at least one of these stereotypical characteristics, Kelsey Lapenas cannot say the same for her freshman year of college.
Lapenas, a sophomore transfer student from Western Massachusetts, describes a more unique experience of her first and only year at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lapenas on the field hockey field at Simmons.

Lapenas on the field hockey field at Simmons.

Not only does this institution have a small population of 2,000 undergraduates enrolled, but also all of these students are females. Lapenas thought the lack of males and small atmosphere would be compensated with the lure of a major city. She quickly found that this was not the case.
“I didn’t think that all girls would matter because there is a lot to do,” described Lapenas of her experiences. “But it was weird not having guys in any classes. Something was missing.” This biology major was not the only person with these feelings towards the school. Many of Lapenas’s friends shared the same emotions about their situation.
Lapenas’s primary motivation for attending this small college was not for its excellent academics or social scene, but for the field hockey team. Her love for the sport in high school carried her to the varsity team at Simmons. This division 3 athletic program gave Lapenas the title of a college athlete, along with lifetime friends that she still keeps in contact with. While many of her friends have transferred and moved onto different universities, the contact between these friends has not suffered.
In addition to this woman-dominated population, Simmons is set in the heart of Boston, only a few short blocks away from the legendary home of the Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park. In fact, Lapenas was there when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and joined in on the celebration that took place in the streets.
“It got bad later that night. People were jumping on top of cars that were parked on the street,” said Lapenas of that night. “The team wasn’t even there so I can’t imagine what it would have been like if it was a home game!”
While Lapenas had many positive experiences at Simmons, transferring was the right thing to do, and Elon University was her next destination. The university has proved to be her home away from home.
Lapenas described her transition as painless. Orientation provided a comfortable atmosphere and helped to develop friendships.
“Transfers really stick together,” she said. “Most of my friends are transfers because we can relate to each other.”
Even though her closest friends have transferred from other colleges across the country, Lapenas’s suitemates have also become close with her over the past few months.
“As a sophomore, I was nervous to be put into another blind roommate situation,” said Sarah Churchill, a sophomore student who attended Elon last year, and is also Lapenas’s roommate. “But, she has taught me to appreciate what I have at Elon.”
Casey Hekker, a sophomore student who also lives with Kelsey, had a similar admiration for Lapenas’s transition process.
“I don’t think I would have been able to handle another big change the way Kelsey did,” said Hekker. “She never acted intimidated or inferior to the fact that everyone she lives with has been here for longer than she has.”
The most difficult change that Lapenas’s had to deal with upon her arrival was also as untypical as her experiences. It did not have to do with the food, or the workload, or finding friends, but the fashion choices of students on campus. Sweatpants and t-shirts are not the same as dresses and sweaters.
“I’m just not used to getting dressed up for my 8 a.m. class. I don’t think I ever will.


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December 2008
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