Institutional Research and Assessment

Transfer Student Project: John's Story

John transferred to The Evergreen State College from Valley Community College in San Bernardino, California, where he pursued an Associate’s degree after leaving San Diego State. Here, he is focusing on computing and software systems, and plans to graduate with a BA/BS. He didn’t learn about Evergreen until he and his wife passed its sign on the freeway, and he decided to look the school up on the web. The college’s scope and style of education appealed to John, and when his wife found out that math classes were not required, the couple moved north to attend. John views Evergreen against the backdrop of his previous academics: “[T]he school… it’s perfect! It’s a little harder than I expected, but it’s not impossible—it’s challenging, which is probably good for me, because if it’s not challenging I tend not to do anything.”

Download a Windows Media File with clips from an interview with John. (This is a WMA file and should play on your computer using Windows Media Player)

Coming from more traditional universities, John was astounded by the intimacy in classes and in the relationships with professors. The small student body and class sizes were an initial shock, though the close, 21:1 student-faculty ratio and the level of informality concomitant with rigorous learning had longer lasting reverberations. “[T]he one-on-one and the first-name-basis really got me. We called Dr. Paulson ‘Dr. Dave’ the first quarter because we couldn’t really get into just calling him Dave.”

Expecting a multitude of younger students, John was comfortably surprised that the average age of Greeners—when he transferred in 2006—was 26 and that over one-half of Evergreen’s undergraduate population began as transfer students. “I didn’t really get the idea that a lot of the younger students tend to decide this isn’t for them and wander off, whereas the older students are like, ‘This is great. Let’s stay here.’” John attributed this discrepancy to a lack of real-world experience in the average fresh-out-of-high-school freshman. While he wished he could relay the difficulties of his own encounters to the younger students, he embraced his own relative ignorance in the spirit of collaborative learning. “I wish I could, but I can’t teach it to them because… I am just experiencing it with them… so you just shrug and say, ‘It’s the freshmen,’ and go on.”

John felt one of the most valuable aspects of his Evergreen experience hinged on collaborative learning. Given his heavy work load, there were times when a division of labor and peer teaching were necessary to complete assignments. “[I]f you split the chores up and then you teach the other person the portion you did and they teach you the portion they did, then you get the knowledge and it doesn’t take forever.”