June 20, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

A group of students walking down steps while another group talks on the steps
The Calvin University campus is home to 3,200 students from almost every U.S. state and 55-plus countries.

Miles O’Bryan, from Glendale, California, initially chose a Midwest college so he could experience a true winter and have new opportunities.

Josie Vink, from Byron Center, Michigan, was going between Hope and Calvin, but chose the former, in part, because it was a little further away from her hometown.

Trey Mikkelsen, from Montague, Michigan, wanted to play football. So, he found a small private school in Wisconsin where he could continue on the gridiron.

For all three, it didn’t take long before they were wanting for more.

Never Settle

For O’Bryan, it took just one semester at Beloit College, a small 1,400-student university in Wisconsin, for him to realize something was missing.

“I’ve never been to a Christian school before. I grew up in a Christian home and believed in God, but I went to a public high school,” said O’Bryan. “Beloit is just a normal private school, but I wanted to learn more about God and have a faith-based learning.”

For Vink, she struggled to find community.

“I wanted Calvin to have the ‘community’ feel that I felt that Hope lacked, and when I realized it did, I was sold and decided to transfer,” said Vink.

An Open Door

For Mikkelsen it was different. During his time at Montague High School in Montague, Michigan, his team made it to the state semifinals three times, including winning the state championship his senior year. So, he made his initial college choice based on his ability to continue his successful football career. At Ripon College, he did just that. In 2022, his team won the conference championship.

But during his second year at Ripon, Calvin launched its football program, and it opened the door for Mikkelsen, who was seeing a better opportunity.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to be part of this first class and to help build the program. I feel like what I accomplished in high school and over the last two years in college would benefit Calvin as they start this program,” said Mikkelsen. “And also on the academic side, it makes more sense for me to transfer here with better academics that Calvin has to offer than my old school did at Ripon.”

A smooth, supportive transfer experience

Regardless of the reason, more students are making the decision to transfer to Calvin than in years’ past. In fact, the number of transfers for the 2023-2024 academic year is nearly double the average of the past four years, and applications and admits are both at five-year highs.

While each student has their own reasons for making the transfer, what’s consistent is the support they each received from the admissions office and the broader Calvin community during the process.

“I ordered transcripts for $5 and emailed them to success@calvin.edu and I looked in my WorkDay portal a week or so later and all was good. The admissions team even signed me up for classes based on my major and a questionnaire I had filled out, and said if I didn’t like those, I could change them out,” said O’Bryan. “Overall, the process has been great. I have had tons of questions and I’ve emailed Christi Tuit in admissions like 1,200 times now, and she always responds in a timely manner and is extremely helpful.”

“The transfer process has been really good, everyone is very understanding, and everyone’s been very clear with me about what to expect and what we can get accomplished with the classes I’ve already taken,” said Mikkelsen. “Everyone’s been really helpful with communicating what I need to get done, what paperwork needs to be filled out.”

“When I toured Calvin, we went to talk with a chemistry professor, and he sat down with my dad and I in his office in the middle of a day when classes were happening, and he just walked us through one of the chemistry classes, made us feel like we weren’t just a random college recruit, number per se,” said O’Bryan. “He could have just said, ‘good to see you, I’m the chem professor,’ but he sat and talked with us, really made me feel like I was seen, like I wasn’t a number.”

Sarah Plantinga, assistant director of continuing studies at Calvin, also knows that how credits transfer and how much financial aid is available are important factors for students considering transferring. She said they work quickly to provide clarity for students who apply and are generous in their financial support.

“We are extremely generous with scholarships for transfer students,” said Plantinga. “Nearly all the scholarships available to our first-year undergraduate applicants are also available to our transfers, which is fairly unique in higher education. Even many of the more than 1,000 Named Scholarships are on the table if transfer students apply early enough.”

To learn more about transferring to Calvin, visit https://calvin.edu/admissions/transfers or contact Christi Tuit at christi.tuit@calvin.edu or (616) 526-6350.

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