If you’re reading this blog, you might be in the same position I was in about a year ago: exhausted from 1L finals, anxiously awaiting my spring grades, and feeling pretty ambivalent about transfer applications.
I was about to embark on a cross-country road trip with my partner and our cat from Los Angeles to South Texas, where I was working for the summer (note: if nothing else, please take from this blog that a road trip with a cat is almost always a terrible, terrible idea). Additionally, I was mid-subcite for my 1L school’s law review competition. The idea of adding a transfer application on top of that seemed fairly ridiculous. After all, who was I to think I could get into Harvard Law?
If you’re too busy to finish this post, I’ll go ahead and give you the takeaway now: send in your transfer application! You have nothing to lose and many potential opportunities to gain.
Below are some concerns I had about transferring followed by my personal experience with the process. I hope this can be helpful for you.
Losing my 1L friends and relationships with 1L professors
1L is an experience that is tough to describe to anyone who hasn’t been through it. I think that sense of camaraderie is why I made such great friends. I was nervous to raise the idea of transferring, but my peers were genuinely happy for me. Ultimately, while we can no longer commiserate about a difficult final exam together, I’ve been able to maintain a relationship with my tight-knit study group even from across the country.
I was lucky in that professors I asked for recommendations were very supportive of my transfer applications. Odds are if you’re considering transferring to Harvard, you probably did well in some classes, and your professors will be happy to write you a letter. Just ask. I happened to have incredible 1L professors, and I reach out to them for guidance and mentorship to this day.
Big fish versus big pond choices
I came from a very small 1L school where it was possible to stand out as a big fish in a small pond. The idea of starting over at Harvard, certainly a bigger pond, was daunting. And although it was intimidating at first, I quickly realized that transfers fit seamlessly into the academic community here. At HLS, you will have the chance to take the classes of your dreams from luminaries in the field surrounded by brilliant peers. I can’t overstate how exciting this will be.
Missing out on opportunities versus the opportunities Harvard offers
While you may miss opportunities unique to your 1L school, I cannot think of an activity at HLS that is precluded to transfer students. In fact, transfers often become leaders of clubs and journals all over campus. I had the opportunity to join an Ames Moot Court team, work on two journals, and get elected to the board of the HLS Film Society and Section 8 (the transfer student section) during my 2L year.
While transferring is a personal choice unique to every student, if it is something you are considering, I encourage you to bet on yourself with an application to HLS. I’m grateful that I did.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan is a rising 3L student who transferred to Harvard Law School after her 1L year.