Liberal Arts Suggestions for transfer student

Hello! I am looking to transfer from a large state school to a smaller, probably liberal arts school.

I realized that this large impersonal, party-oriented environment is not the best match for my personality. I’m looking for somewhere with students who are genuinely curious, creative, and motivated. People like me who enjoy learning but realize there are more important things than just grades.

It’s important to me that the school has strong arts extracurriculars like theatre and creative writing groups. It’s also important that my new school has a design your own major option so I could continue with my degree in arts management (which is not offered by many schools).

I’m a sophomore with a 4.0 GPA, but because I’m at such a large school, I’m not very close with professors to ask for recommendations. I originally loved the idea of feeling “lost in the crowd” at my current school, but I realized I have my whole life for getting lost in crowds. With the remainder of college, I really want to focus on making connections and developing creative pursuits.

I would like to stay in the Midwest because I plan on moving to Chicago following graduation. I’ve been considering Cornell College because they have great financial aid for transfer students, but I would prefer somewhere not as rural. Another school I’ve heard mentioned is Kenyon College, but I don’t know much about it. As a transfer student, I would love a welcoming environment where it is easy to make friends.

Any help is much appreciated!

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Although not in the Midwest, Wesleyan University might be of interest to you.

Kenyon College should be an attractive option for 2 years, but it is rural.

Denison University.

Macalester College.

University of Minnesota at Morris is an LAC with just 1,500 students.

Oberlin College.

It would be helpful to know your current school.

Although not an LAC, Northwestern University might work–especially for one with a 4.0 GPA and an interest in theater, creative writing, serious students, proximity to Chicago, and outstanding financial aid. Consider living in a theme house in order to have an instant group of friends.


Perhaps DePaul as its in the area you want to be and already has strong arts programs including a theater management degree.


Thank you so much for your suggestions! I really appreciate it.

Currently I attend Indiana University. I don’t dislike it but I am looking for somewhere a little more studious and creative.

I do love Northwestern, but I wasn’t sure how realistic that was in regards to admission and financial aid was as a transfer student. Thanks for the tip about themed housing. My main concern would probably be making friends as you mentioned. I’m not too sure how socially-oriented Northwestern is.

Northwestern’s admit rate for transfers is much higher than for incoming freshmen.

Northwestern’s financial aid is outstanding even for transfer students. (NU has the ninth highest endowment in the country and meets full financial need without loans.)

With about 8,900 undergraduates, you can find what you want both socially & academically. Northwestern has more grad students than undergraduates, but some are located on the spectacular Chicago campus (North Shore), so it has a more serious vibe than most other elite schools. Very active theater program. Social, but not out-of-control.

With a 4.0 GPA, it is worth trying for based on your interests & preferences & need.

P.S. I love Indiana University for business majors.Lots of scholarships & lots of business related clubs.


Large universities may have arts administration but smaller liberal arts colleges tend not to. Design your own major may also be hard to find though independent study for a class is more available. Even if you design your own major, you may not find courses that align with arts administration.

Ae you sure you don’t want to give IU more of a chance? It is not unusual for freshmen to want to leave. It does take a long time to get settled, make friends and often once you are part of a department things can get better.

I think COVID has also made settling in more difficult.


My daughter is a sophomore at Kenyon and loves it. Her interests are similar to yours, and she has made great friends easily and keeps meeting new people. Feel free to pm me. However, Kenyon overenrolled for 2021-22, and I’m not sure how easy it may be to transfer in this cycle.


Note that the OP is currently a sophomore at IU.


I wouldn’t transfer if I were you. Good reasons for transfer are traumatic experience, financial, major unavailability, and poor performance. You have interest in a niche major. That is going to be near impossible to replicate at an LAC. Especially since it has a large pre professional component. As for you concerns about the quality/engagement of your peers, that will mostly self correct your Jr/Sr years. Once you mainly have major class, the class size will likely reduce and the students will become much more engaged. I think that you are taking on a lot of risk with little to no upside potential.

Management & marketing is not really a niche major even though titled “arts management”.

Can be replicated with study of traditional business courses and an internship in the arts industry.

Oops- originally I had put that sophomores were like freshmen in some ways due to COVID. Or maybe that was a different thread!


Hi!! I’m currently transferring from Kenyon College to another school. I loved the professors and my classes, but the social scene honestly was rough. It’s pretty clique-y. But the connections I made with my professors were amazing. It’s just VERY rural- if you’re willing to give up civilization for academics, it might be a good fit. I just personally felt very isolated and left mid-semester.


How large or small is your major at your current school?

Unless your major is very large, the “lost in the crowd” aspect is likely to be reduced for juniors and seniors in their majors.

Starting at a big university and transferring to a small LAC increases the risk of hitting the disadvantages of both while getting less of the advantages of both.


Thanks for your reply!

I’m not sure how large my major is at my current school because we have no events or activities to meet other people in our major.

For me it’s all about being somewhere with a sense of community. That’s something I’ve tried very hard to find at my current school, but I think would be easier in a less rural area and preferably near Chicago.

I heard that a sense of community and curiosity is more common at an LAC, but I’m not set on attending an LAC.

Have you taken Intro to Arts Management yet? It looks like it had two sections this fall. One had 16 and the other 3 students. The spring sections currently have 14 and 16 enrolled.

Maybe look at Beloit College in WI as an alternative to Cornell College in Iowa. Not as rural an area and about 90-120 minutes from Chicago depending on the time of day.

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Valparaiso University, perhaps?

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Maybe Columbia College in Chicago? It would give you a more tight-knit, arts-focused community with so many opportunities before graduation.

Also, it looks like Butler has a good arts management program and that seems like it would give you everything you’re looking for. If the arts management program works in conjunction with the dance departments there, that would give you some fantastic opportunities I would think. Should be fairly easy for you to check out since it’s pretty close to where you currently are.

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St. Mary’s University of MN (southeast MN, college town, 5 hrs max from Chicagoland with many Chicago students). Liberal arts, around 1000 students, beautiful and (seriously, everyone says it) friendly. I used to work there. Rolling admissions. Good luck!