First years struggle to find place at Guilford
During my first semester at Guilford, just a few weeks into the school year, I overheard a conversation between two people walking in my hall. Both commented upon how much they dislike the school, and how they could not wait to transfer.
This was not the first instance I heard first-years expressing their grievances with Guilford. A student I was sitting next to during registration remarked that he was going to transfer to a bigger school at the first opportunity.
According to collegefactual.com, 74 percent of Guilford first-years remain at the school, higher than the national average of 70.9 percent. Despite being slightly higher than the national average, it is still worth asking why more than a quarter of first-years make the decision to leave Guilford.
For some, it appears to be a matter of Guilford’s social life. Prior to attending Guilford, I had read that there was a notorious rift between athletes and non-athletes. I thought that it must be an exaggeration. Unfortunately, it has proven to be true. Among first-years, I see little overlap between the two groups, and sometimes outright disdain.
Lilian Zancajo transferred to The New School in New York City following her first semester at Guilford. According to Zancajo, Guilford’s social life was a prominent factor behind her decision to transfer.
“I felt like the football players thought they ran the school and were downright creepy with the way they talked to, and about, girls,” Zancajo said. “I just didn’t want to be in a place where I felt unsafe, and I definitely didn’t feel safe around the athletes — and they were everywhere.”
Additionally, Zancajo was not satisfied with Guilford’s academics.
“I honestly didn’t feel academically challenged at Guilford,” Zancajo said. “I went to a very rigorous high school and I honestly felt like I took a step down in my education.”
First-year Kaylie Chasse was planning to transfer in order to go to school closer to home, but opted to remain at Guilford after discovering the arduous transfer process.
“It was so much work to transfer,” Chasse said. “A lot of the credits here don’t transfer to other schools, so I just decided to stay.”
Although I think it’s imperative that the Guilford community addresses the concerns that many first-years have, some students don’t give the school a chance. I know far too many people who rarely leave their dorms, let alone campus.
Downtown Greensboro hosts a bundle of cool coffee shops, interesting restaurants, and various stores with kitschy merchandise. The bus stop right next to campus makes it relatively easy to travel around the area, and yet I hardly see any students using it.
I hate using platitudes, but college is what you make it, and Guilford is no exception. If you are committed to hating everything and everyone, then you likely will.
Take advantage of what Guilford has to offer. Get to know your professors, take a walk in the woods, even go to school-sponsored events. I was also considering transferring, but the more I get out of my comfort zone and embrace the community, the more I find myself having a place at Guilford.
If you are a first-year presently weighing the pros and cons of transferring, first explore what the school has to offer. Presumably, there was a reason you decided to attend Guilford. It would be remiss of you not to experience all you could while you are here. At that point, if you still are not having your needs met or have not found a niche for yourself, then perhaps transferring is something you may want to consider. Just be wary of doing so rashly.
“I know that for some Guilford was a perfect fit,” Zancajo said. “It just wasn’t really for me.”