Lauren Taylor (middle) poses with her two new roommates at Boston College.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Lauren Taylor, ’11, leaves Occidental for Boston College

In the fall, Lauren Taylor, ’11, transferred to Boston College, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, after spending two years at Occidental College, and a gap year in Paris. At SCDS Taylor was feature editor of the Octagon.

Q: Why did you originally decide to go to Occidental?

A: The whole time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to go to a small liberal-arts college, mainly because Country Day was so small, and I liked that. I only applied to small liberal-arts schools. I also liked that it was on the West Coast. Before applying, I talked to other Country Day students that had gone there, and they liked it.

Q: What made you decide to transfer?

A: I came home after my sophomore year in June, and after being home for a few weeks, I knew I was not looking forward to going back to school. You should be excited to go back for your junior year; all my friends were excited, but I wasn’t. I knew there was something wrong with that. There was also some weird stuff going on in the English department, and being an English major, things were made more difficult for me.

Q: When did you decide to transfer?

A: I thought about it between freshman and sophomore years, but never did anything. I decided to leave Occidental within weeks after my sophomore year. You aren’t allowed to transfer after your junior year.

Q: What were the classes like at Occidental compared to BC’s?

A: The classes (at Occidental) were small, and mostly discussion based; the biggest class had around 50 students. I had really good classes overall and academically was pretty happy, but I wasn’t super happy with other aspects. The classes at BC aren’t that different from Occidental, but they are quite a bit larger, one of my classes having close to 200 students. Academically there isn’t a huge difference. I’ve really enjoyed my classes so far at BC.

Q: What are the biggest differences between the two colleges?

A: Not much academically, but there is a big size difference. Occidental has 2,000 undergraduates whereas BC has 9,000. Also the sports are very different. BC has a lot of school spirit and everyone loves attending sport events. I thought that Occidental would be similar, but no one even went to the games. I took my friend with me to a basketball game at Occidental, and at some point in the game she asked me, “How do the teams know which hoop to shoot at?”. That was basically the epitome of sports at Occidental. I have really enjoyed having the larger sports teams and spirit at BC.

Q: Were there other colleges you considered transferring to?

A: Yes, I looked at Boston University because I knew I wanted to transfer to somewhere much different from Occidental since I wasn’t happy there. I spent a while in the city and was happy in Boston, so it came down to BC and BU. I eventually decided BC was a better choice.

Q: How is the application process different for a transfer student than it was applying as a first year?

A: It wasn’t very different. It was still a lot of work, although this time I wasn’t in school at the time of applications, so I didn’t have to worry about any other schoolwork. That made things a bit easier.

Q: What were the best and worst things about Occidental?

A: The best things at Occidental were probably some of the teachers. One of my professors, who also happened to be my advisor, was so great, and I still keep in touch with him. Also, the newspaper (staff) was very small and close. I met my best friend there. I have a lot of connections from going to school at Occidental.

The worst thing was the sort of “in your face” political atmosphere. They pushed their opinions on you, and would argue with you until they could get you to agree. Once I saw a few girls, and said, “Hey, guys!”, and they got mad at me because I called them guys instead of girls. I guess that wasn’t very feminist of me. Stuff like that happened all the time. Someone always wanted to get into an argument with me. I also didn’t like the lack of school spirit there. I thought it would be small and close, but it didn’t feel like a community at all.

Q: So far do you like Boston College better than Occidental?

A: Yes. I mean neither school is perfect, but Occidental was extremely liberal, where Boston is extremely conservative. I’m probably somewhere between the two. I have been a lot happier since I transferred. I’ve met a lot of great people here and made so many friends so quickly. It was harder finding people like me when I was at Occidental.

Q: What was the most difficult thing about the transition?

A: The most difficult thing about coming to BC was being scared that I had made the wrong decision by transferring. I really had no way of knowing that it would turn out better. I thought that it would be a rough transition, and I don’t know if it just hasn’t hit me yet, but so far it hasn’t been that hard. All of the great friends I’ve made have helped me out along the way. I think a big part of college is being away from home, but I was basically used to being away by the time I transferred because I had already been at Occidental, plus the time I spent in Paris in a language immersion program.

Q: How have skills you learned at Country Day prepared you for college?

A: Country Day gave me really strong writing skills. I haven’t had much trouble when it’s come to writing so far in college. Most high schools don’t prepare you. When people are thinking about going to SCDS, they think it will be a detriment because of the size and that you won’t be able to talk to anyone, but it’s the opposite. You are forced to talk to people, and so far I’ve been really prepared socially and when it comes to talking to my teachers. I also think that the SCDS administration trusts you, and you have a lot more independence and responsibility. That prepares you because you have to be independent in college.

Q: Was Boston one of your original choices when applying to colleges in high school?

A: Yes, I got into BC when I was a senior in high school, but didn’t really consider it because I was so focused on going to a small liberal-arts school. Once I got into Occidental, I didn’t give any other schools much consideration.

 Q: How have you had to adjust, moving from the West Coast to the East? Do you enjoy living in Boston?

A: I really like Boston as a city. It’s even better than L.A. It’s nicer than L.A., and there’s a lot less traffic. The cold weather on the East Coast is a big change and makes things a little bit less enjoyable.

Q: What is the workload like at BC compared to Occidental?

A: Both schools are equally rigorous. I’m not necessarily getting a better education here at BC, but my teachers are amazing. My English teacher is really great, and that’s important to me, being an English major. The only difference in workload is that at Occidental you’re required to take four classes a semester, but at BC you’re required to take five. That fifth class is quite a bit of extra work.

Q: What classes are you currently taking?

A: Studies in Poetry (which I have to take for my major, and is one of my favorite classes so far in my college experience), Modern History, Philosophy, Intermediate French II, and Film Photography.

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