Reverse transfer to CCC in hopes of getting into a top UC or stay at T-20 LAC?

As for transfer options- what religious bent are you hoping for in a department? Obviously if you’re one specific religion, another religions specific religion major may not line up with your ideals. The students that my daughter has known who have transferred went to occidental and Vanderbilt- two each, oddly enough. I’m not sure if after only one year other colleges will look at your high school stats. You only list high school gpa, which was actually low for your current college, honestly, but I’m guessing your test scores were high? If so, you seem to have a decent a shot as anyone at a transfer to other universities and colleges. Are you looking for somewhere with a very known non-party rep? Are you still interested in LACs at all or have you realized it’s only universities that you’re looking at- maybe we can brainstorm some options.

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You have received many fine suggestions here. First, I think that the idea of applying for a leave of absence is a good one. You will save money on the short run, you will give yourself a break with a chance to reevaluate and reflect without trying to make this change in a rush, and you will be applying for a transfer as a student currently enrolled at a highly prestigious college in its own right. Going the CC route will chop up your academic progress, going through 3 different colleges. It’s hard enough to do a double major at one college and challenging at two.

Second, the suggestion of UCSB has a lot of merit. It’s a UC with the program you’re looking for. I also suggest that you look at UCSC. Religious Studies is not a separate program there, but it does seem to pursue Religious Studies there via an independent interdisciplinary plan there, beginning with HISC 185C Comparative Religion:A Critical Introduction for a whopping 5 credits.

In all seriousness I ask the question, What is Religion? I ask because I too have an interest in this area and have been reading about it all my life. We have been taught in the West to think about this in a certain way, and it’s something for which there isn’t even a concept in some parts of the world. Comparative Religions and the History of Religion are studies that are found in other departments in many colleges and universities, so you have to dig deep into what the courses are that are actually offered.

Religion in the West is really about answers to eternal questions that every civilization has struggled with. However, our answers are not the only possible answers. In addition, it has been politicized in almost every culture and often used as a tool of power. This too can be studied in many different departments. In recent years increasing numbers of scholars have been investigating the role of psychedelics and other mind altering substances in the study of ancient western religions and in non-western religions. The main stream western religions have more of a history with psychedelics and other substances than any of them would like to admit. And it’s right there in ancient and medieval art. The study of ancient and classical civilizations certainly opens a door to this. This is certainly a field for scholars and an inquiring mind can approach it through many different disciplines. Just some thoughts.

One last comment. The Claremont colleges and the Claremont School of Theology have long been a center for the study of religion. I know . . . Another expensive private college. I was just wondering if you live within commuting distance and could save on room and board if you transferred there. Just exploring all possibilities.

I really think that one of the UCs is your best option. I would continue to explore what’s available at others besides the two I mentioned. It doesn’t have to be called Religious Studies or Comparative Religions or History of Religion. But they could have the courses to do any of these via an individualized interdisciplinary major.

Best of luck.

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If the UCs end up truly the best option, the choices really become a second year at the current college or a chopped up record with another school in the middle (CC or no)- I do think you need to transfer into the UCs as a junior, unfortunately.

Thanks. So be it. I’d opt for CC, knowing that she may need more than 4 more semesters to fit in everything sh wants to do.

2 problems with CCs, even in CA:

  • They may not offer the appropriate math classes if the student is sufficiently advanced
  • they may not offer much, if anything, wrt Religion, Religious studies, etc.
    Both of which would matter to a prospective Religious Studies/ Math major.

Hi walesandbromley - PM me if you wish. In my view the evidence you provide overwhelmingly supports a decision for leaving Haverford, going to a CC, trying to transfer to UCB but if not then to another UC where you can major in Math and pursue religious studies on your own. No-brainer, obvious choice, I think. happy to help further - PM me.

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Thank you for the fabulous advice, there’s a lot of valuable information in your comment. Good to hear from a parent whose child goes to the same college. I agree that only spending one semester (and a shortened one at that [COVID] with a strike to boot) at the college hindered my first-year experience and maybe during a different time I would be willing to give it another go, but I just think my experiences from that one semester make it blatantly clear the college is not the place for me. The culture, while I didn’t find it appealing, isn’t something that is affecting my decision as much as the academics. You are correct, the Quaker influence at the college, while very much appreciated in some ways, is affecting my academic experience; I think discussing a LOA with the college and possibly officially transferring out to a CC is the best path forward for me at the moment. I’m happy to hear your daughter enjoys it though. About transfer options, I’m looking for no religious bent, or at least one that isn’t as overt. Because I come from a strict religious background, I am specifically looking for a department that prioritizes a diverse array of course offerings, not just specializing in one religion and/or denomination. I will say that the Quaker bent of the department wasn’t the “worst bent” a religion department could have (the “inner light” of Quakerism helped disavow prejudice), but yeah, I’d like a religion department that doesn’t have a core focus on one religion. Also, about my high school stats, I definitely agree: my gpa was low. I wish I had better explanations for that (lack of diagnosis for my disability possibly played a role), but simply put, I failed to perform as well as I should have. This is something I’m worried about as I think I was very blessed to have gotten into my current college and I’m not sure if I’d be able to do the same elsewhere. Although I don’t know for sure, I think my essays (which were very, very strong) were what got me accepted. ECs and average-ish test scores as well. Finally, about other college cultures, I wouldn’t say I want a campus explicitly known for being non-party (I associate that with a church-owned religious school), but a place with less of a drinking culture than my current college. I am open to LACs, but I’d like them to be (a) located in CA, (b) cheaper/provide merit aid/same price as my current college or (c) have a very strong religion department (Middlebury is one I have in mind as the department works with their very strong foreign language departments). In general, I’m looking more at UCs and universities. I hope this information is helpful in brainstorming options for me.

Thank you for the advice. I have been strongly considering a LOA, but in order to apply to a UC, I must be currently enrolled in a college. I cannot be enrolled in another college (most likely a community college) while on a LOA at my current college on the east coast, that would be against my current college’s rules. I do not want to join the c/o 2025 so I’d like to make a decision sooner than later.

I appreciate you asking “Why religion?”. That’s been a question I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think it’s always important to reassess why you’re doing something/why you’re interested in something.

About the Claremont colleges, those schools are some of my top options for transferring. Pomona College (very difficult to get into, especially as a transfer) is a college I’m very interested in with its strong religious studies department. I will take a look at the Claremont School of Theology. I do not live within commuting distance, but I am still strongly considering/interested in these schools; they have always been on my radar.

Finally, I agree, I should keep my options open to fields of study beyond religion. History (a major many UCs have strong departments in) is something I’m interested in as well.

I think you are going to have to look very hard to find a private school with a religion major that is unaffiliated with any religion. The school may not be heavily religious, but then why do they have a religion major and what religious faculty is attracted to teach at that school? Many religion professors are attached to certain religions and are teaching at affiliated schools.

Jesuit schools might be a good option for you. They’ll offer a lot of comparative courses, sometimes have professors from other religions visiting profs or permanently assigned faculty, but in the end they are catholic schools and you are going to find a more catholic focus not only in the religious studies department but in the school as a whole. There will be crucifixes, masses before some ceremonies like graduation, restrictions on who can get married in the chapels, churches and cathedrals on campus, Religious teaching math and English and history as well as religion courses. In California you’d have LMU, Santa Clara, and U of SF to pick from, all very good schools in many departments, not just religion.

My daughter went to a public school and majored in history. There is a religious studies major available, but most of the courses were cross listed with other departments too, like English lit, history, architecture, art history. It is a very small department so not every class is offered every semester or even every year.


FYI, Claremont School of Theology is disaffiliating from the Claremont Consortium and moving to Oregon to join Willamette University. (Both CST and Willamette are historically Methodist, fwiw.) The transition has been slowed by disputes around the sale of CST’s properties in Claremont, so they have a presence in both places for the time being, but I don’t know how long that will continue.

That said, the 5C’s undergraduate course offerings in religion and adjacent fields re interesting and varied, and I have known several students who have found the Consortium a great place to pursue this major. (And math is terrific here too.) However, if Haverford is too costly, a transfer to one of the 5C’s won’t be an improvement in that respect.

Sorry if I misunderstood your inclinations toward the non-UCB/UCLA UC’s. Your title specifically states that you are targeting “a top UC,” and your statements about no UC having a religion department (when SB, at least, absolutely does) conveyed an impression that you were viewing UCB and UCLA as the only “tier” worthy of close examination.

Reed does seem like potentially a good target if you’re still considering full-pay private. The racial demographics, which have been mentioned, are not meaningfully different from Haverford’s, and better than many LAC’s. (Similar to Cal Poly as well, which stands out as the least diverse public U in California.) If diversity is a priority then a UC will be your best bet, as it will be for affordability as well.

There will be a lot of partying at Middlebury. Easily as much as where you currently are, though Midd is an excellent school. To me, it makes no sense to transfer from Haverford to Midd. It will be more of the same, with a larger student body and the definite disadvantage of being very isolated. I cannot see you finding the culture you seek at Midd. FWIW, I love Haverford’s location. 20 minutes from a city is VERY reasonable. Think about what you were doing twenty minutes ago.

From your initial post, it seems that religious studies are your main focus. So why UCB? That also makes no sense. As far as CC, you are clearly an excellent student to have a 3.9 GPA at a school like Haverford. Your parents can afford the fees, but you seem to think that money IS an issue. I myself attended a CC in Cali and transferred, and I am usually very supportive of that route, but your pros of CC boil down to one thing, which is money. The money isn’t the real problem for you. Rather, it’s your perceived perception of value for money. Let me assure you, a degree from many of the private colleges mentioned in this thread is excellent value for money if it helps you achieve your long term goals.

I cannot see two years at CC fulfilling you at all. However, USC does offer a clear path to CC transfer students and seems to have a well regarded religious studies program. Again, there will be partying.

I do think your current school sounds like a poor fit. If you want to get out, take a LOA. Unless you really need to save money, I just don’t see CC being a good fit either, as I think you will find it unchallenging and demotivating. Then you still have to worry about getting into another college. Why not look at U Chicago, which seems more up your alley. It has a great religious studies program and while some kids will party there, it is known as the college “where fun goes to die.” You can study anything you like there and it’s certainly prestigious.

I think St. Olaf is an excellent idea as students are not known for being big partiers. I would seriously look into it. Have you considered schools like Pepperdine or Point Loma Nazarene? Little partying. What about the Jesuit schools? BC and Georgetown surely will have religious studies majors, but you are not going to escape the party culture at those two colleges.

Being honest, it seems to me that you have struggled, as have many, with this unsettling and strange past year. I don’t see any huge red flags, but I see homesickness and buyer’s remorse. I sense that you had unrealistic expectations about college.

As far as how you get along with your parents, I’m betting they think you have a good relationship. Always remember they love you. Given your challenges, maybe transferring to another school in CA is a good idea, but I can’t recommend going to CC as the best route for you.

I do think you have to accept that most colleges will have partying and drinking. Homesickness is normal. Weigh the pros and cons of being able to study what you want, with being in a non- or less-partying atmosphere. If both are equally important, and you really are concerned about money, look strongly at St. Olaf.


CC makes no sense from what you’ve posted.

Don’t discount Covid. Everyone was miserable- faculty, staff, students- everywhere. Professors want to teach at colleges like yours because they love office hours where a student shows up randomly to ask a question and an hour later, both student and professor have a reading list of topics they want to explore together. So don’t be so glib to dismiss the impact of Covid on your mental health, adjustment to college, and overall satisfaction with your experience.

Leave of Absence- definitely the way to go IMHO. Don’t transfer anywhere now with the attitude of “got to be better than this”. Because guess what- sometimes it’s not. There are all sorts of flavors of Religion departments, there are all sorts of ways a college organizes a math department (do you want applied math or highly theoretical?), and there are all sorts of “used to be religious but not anymore” places. Brown- it was religious so long ago that there are probably zero faculty members who could tell you what denomination it was- and it has an excellent Religious Studies department with fantastic faculty and grad students which is HIGHLY integrated into the rest of the U- Classics department, history, philosophy, relevant languages, art history.

You haven’t posted enough detail or focus to suggest that you are ready to transfer. If you’re miserable- take a leave- that’s what they’re for- and regroup.

Middlebury- no. More remote, harder to get to an urban place.


Thank you for the wisdom, it is very much appreciated.

I agree, after during more research, I’ve come to the conclusion that applying to Midd would not be a good option for me. Culture/location, both of which you noted, are reasons, but for others as well. I see what you mean about Haverford’s location, and while it may be optimal for some, I’m not really fond of Philadelphia and even without COVID-19, I can’t see myself going into the city to just explore/have fun.

I note UCB because I really admire their social science departments (natural history in specific). The university also has a great East Asian studies program (which I’m also interested in) with California’s rich history of East Asian immigrations so lots of archives to immerse myself into. I like the fact that it’s a public school and I actually think I would prefer a larger school. Additionally, from my research, UCB’s history department will not have classes of 1000+ students or more like much of the engineering/intro science/math courses. Of course, that’s not to say the intro courses will be small, it’s just that, unlike STEM departments, the small class sizes will be much more accessible/present themselves much sooner.

About finances, this is a very personal subject and I don’t want to delve into it (I may PM you if that’s okay), but it’s something I’m weighing very seriously about my option of going to CC next year. Personally, I do not believe a degree from my current college is worth the cost, especially given my desired career trajectory. If I am to pursue a career in academia, the cost of higher education (masters and PhDs) is something I have to start planning for/being wise about financially now.

Another VERY important reason I don’t think I emphasized enough in my original post about why I want to attend CC is because of my high school GPA. Simply put, it is very, very low. Nowhere near the standards of getting into another LAC or a school like USC. How heavily will these colleges weigh my high school GPA if I were to take a LOA? I would be transferring into their college with sophomore standing; I heard applying as a transfer after only having been in college for one year results in high school GPA to be weighed much more heavily than if I were to apply as a sophomore in college. I said in another comment, but I was very fortunate to get into my current college. Yes, at the end of the day, college admissions is really just luck, but, in my case, I think I was especially lucky as my high school GPA was an outlier. I guess my question is this: how much would my high school GPA be weighed if I were to apply as a transfer to another college with sophomore standing after taking a LOA this year? There’s nothing I can do about my high school GPA whereas if I went to CC, I’d still be able to get a year of classes (AKA grades) on my transcript.

Regarding Jesuit schools, I am strongly considering them. Most notably Santa Clara, Georgetown and USD.

As to your assessment about my first-year experience, I think you are mostly right; I did deal with homesickness and I did have some unrealistic expectations. I’ve accepted partying and drinking are going to play a dominant role at any college and it’s up to me to just focus on what I want to do in my downtime. However, (and this is a big however), my unrealistic expectations weren’t just about party culture or a cliquey student body, they included quality of courses/professors and the college’s “commitment” to a nurturing learning environment for body and mind. If a strike could happen so easily last year, I imagine something even more disruptive could happen again.

Yes, I agree with the first part. I did not mean to sound as if I expected there to be a ‘perfect’ college with no religious bent in their religion department. It’s just that the bent at my current college is so overt that it can be frustrating.

I’ve been researching Jesuit colleges and I’m strongly considering applying to them either after a LOA or a year at CC. The holistic approach to learning/comparative courses are very attractive to me. I am familiar with Catholicism so the rituals/ceremonies are not of any concern/much bother to me.

Did you daughter have a “religious concentration” for her history major? I’m not sure how it works at all public universities, but I’ve heard at some you can declare the major with a concentration in religion? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Thank you for your comment. I just wanted to reply to some of your points as I disagree with some of them.

First, I don’t think I’m discounting COVID at all. I literally provided a disclaimer at the beginning of my original post saying COVID impacted my first year. I’ve done a lot of work on my own outside of this thread thinking about the last year and what I could’ve done better to improve my experience/what I would do if I were to go back. Ultimately, I think it comes down to what one of my college friends told me: “LACs attract a very specific type of student. There’s a lot of self selection that happens before an applicant applies to an LAC.” That type of student is not me; of course, I could have done more self reflection my senior year to make a better college selection, but what’s in the past is in the past. I want to transfer because my current college is not the place for me. I am strongly considering CC because I believe that is the best path forward for me. Many would say CC is a “downgrade” from a nationally ranked LAC, but I think it’s about choosing a path that’s going to work with where I am now. I think my original post contained as much detail as I felt comfortable sharing and enough focus on my goals/what I want out of my college education to ask for outside advice. Also, I never said I was miserable, I’m just a college student trying to navigate new environments with a recently diagnosed disability and I’m just asking for constructive advice about what I should do.

You have a 3.9 at Haverford! No college will care about your high school GPA. When trying to transfer, colleges are more interested in your ability to do well in college and I doubt they will care at all about your high school grades.

As a transfer to Santa Clara or USD, you are unlikely to get any money as a transfer and neither of them are more worth full price than Haverford. I certainly would not pay full price for either. In fact, my son considered applying to USD. The campus is stunning, but we would have let him attend only if he had received a merit award.

Generally, people try to transfer up. No offense to either of those schools, especially Santa Clara, but Haverford is generally a better “brand”. Sure, try for Georgetown.

If you get into a PhD program, I am pretty sure those are fully funded. Masters degrees are not. PhD programs are very competitive. College grades are very important. So is experience. Where you attend undergrad may not be a deciding factor, but a degree from USC, for instance, with high grades, is going hold a bit more weight than a degree from USD with high grades.

Again, going to CC seems to me an almost pointless exercise. In your particular situation, the only pro I see is saving money. It appears money is not the issue for you.

As for UCB, you have to decide if you are going to be happy in a class with possibly 1000 students, and also not studying your intended major. If you transfer in as a junior, your classes will almost certainly be a lot smaller, of course.


Have you considered LMU? If you’re going the Jesuit route you could certainly do worse and in our experience it’s a very welcoming place- and they offer math, applied math, and theology degrees. They also offer a couple of Catholic specific degrees, which leads me to think that the regular theology degree is less directed at Catholicism. It’s also in LA, a good bit bigger than haverford but not overwhelmingly huge, and has lots of clubs/teams/etc. They also accept a little over half of transfers. My younger daughter had planned to attend and was accepted as a transfer before deciding finishing CC was the better choice for her goals- but that’s not a reflection on the school at all.

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Reinterating to look into St Olaf for Math+Religion and “civility”.
(After CC or not, but a 3.9 from Haverford will hold a lot of sway).

Notre Dame, Holy Cross, Georgetown will all be good for both religion and math but SCU or LMU may not work for pure math, which requires a certain “pedigree”, Applied math is more open-minded.

Religion will require knowledge of Latin/Greek (or the language spoken in your area of study such as Arabic or Chinese) at a level sufficient for understanding professional literature, ie., above “advanced”, and at least 1 if not 2 foreign languages. Harvard indicates that students often need to study after the BA to reach the overall level they expect and have strict language pre-reqs so if you do study anything during the coming year, it should be intensive language courses. (Math also will require FL knowledge, typically French/Russian, but not at the same level and this may not overlap with your Religion interests.)

PHDs, whether in Math or Religion, will be funded (or won’t be worth doing).

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This is partly accurate- and partly inaccurate.

LACs attract many types of students- the most typical commonality is a desire for a smaller learning environment with more direct relationships with profs- but each LAC has it’s own personality, campus culture, ethos, etc., and it is the fit between any given student and the LAC that is critical.

As examples, consider Swarthmore v Bowdoin, W&L v Oberlin, Davidson v Smith, or Bates v Harvey Mudd. All top rated LACs, but hardly one “very specific” type of student! not many students will apply to (or be equally happy at) both sides of any of those pairs. So yes, there is a lot of self-selection, but it’s more at the level of the specific LAC than at the LAC v National University level.

If you are interested in a career in academia you are smart to be thinking ahead! Over the next two years you will want to work on focusing your interests. Given the range of areas you have mentioned (math, religion, history, east Asian studies), a college without too many distribution or core requirements, and/or some good pre-existing multi-disciplinary options might suit you best. That way you can explore your areas of interest, and follow those interests to the next level. FWIW, for a top student at a top college, you may find a CC limiting in that regard.

In general, US PhD’s have the Master’s built in, but in some fields (Religious Studies, for ex) some unis offer a stand alone MA. For example, UCSB will take strong students straight into their (funded) MA/PhD program, but also offers a standalone MA for those who need to build their base. Funded standalone MAs are hard to find, but they do exist. You shouldn’t accept a place in any PhD (or MA/PhD) program that isn’t funded enough for you to live on.

You also need to be thinking hard about research/experience, including during the summers: a PhD is a research degree, and programs will expect to see you having some experience in your field as an UG. Are you doing anything related to your areas of interest this summer? If not, can you find anything remotely related to do? For example, did you have any profs at Haverford that you got along with that might have some research / project work you could help with over the summer? Doing so does not preclude taking a LOA for September.

You might do your overall situation more good by taking a LOA, apply in the autumn for spring transfer, and finding any kind of internship/role in any of your areas of interest to do during the autumn term vs a term at a CC.


Yes, I have heard about the good academics at LMU but I don’t think the campus culture is the right fit for me; I hear it’s quite the party school. Also, having done some research, the math department is much more focused on applied math and there is little, if any, focus on pure math. This isn’t a good or bad thing, just a different departmental focus than what I’m looking for. About the location, I would not enjoy living in the city of LA which is one of the reasons I’m considering when thinking about whether to apply to USC.