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.
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.
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.
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.