Transferring from Macalester to a bigger school in the NE

Jul 14, 2009
I am looking for some advice on whether or not it would be in my best interest to transfer. I am going into my sophomore year at Macalester College, a strong small liberal arts school in MN but am thinking about transferring for spring of sophomore year or fall of junior year.

If I transfer I don't want to transfer to a less esteemed school and I want to be in the north east (I grew up in Boston) and at someplace at least a bit larger so I would probably go for some of the NE Ivy's such as Cornell and Brown and then maybe Tufts, and Wesleyan. But I am open to more suggestions and want advice as I am unsure what the best move for me is. Here are some of my pros and cons:

Why I want to transfer:
Macalester feels too small, in terms of student body size, location, and campus size and resources
It doesn't have a good environmental science program, which would be my choice major, along with the premed track
I miss new england
There are very few serious premeds at Macalester
Macalester is better known for the humanities, as well as great econ and chemistry departments

Why I should stay:
I have already proven I can do well academically there and have gotten pretty involved in some extracurricular activities
It's a small liberal arts school so I can get the attention I need and maybe more chance of standing out from my peers

I know it may be a reach, but I was starting to get pretty excited about the idea of trying to transfer to cornell but here are my concerns:
Will I not be able to keep up my GPA and therefore not get into as good med school as if I stayed at Macalester?
Will it be really hard to develop relationships with professors coming in as a sophomore spring transfer or even junior fall? Will I be able to get good recommendations?
Will I get lost in the crowd and not be able to stand out in any way to med school admissions?

Also, I don't know if this matters, but by the time I transfer I will have a lot of my pre med requirements done (I will have single and multiv calc done, physics done, general chemistry and at least one semester of o chem, and cell bio done. So basically I will probably have a semester of o chem and a few bio classes to take). So I may not have to take too many of the notoriously hard Cornell pre med classes. But I don't know how this will bode for me when it comes time for recommendations.

Anyway, I want to shoot for the best. Cornell's med school sounds awesome, and the PBL curriculum really appeals to me. And cornell undergraduate has captivated me too but I know I need to widen my search. So I would love general advice and recommendations of other good pre med schools to transfer to!

Sorry for the long post....


Senior Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2006
In the end, you have to do what feels best to you. This is completely a personal decision.

That being said, I left St. Olaf after one semester because I just did not like the environment. It's a good school, but I didn't do well there simply because I wasn't happy.

Do you have a car? Mac seems like it would be relatively easy to have a car at, and if you do, you have access to the entire twin cities area. If you haven't already, I suggest checking out the downtown area (first ave, etc) and making some friends at the U (good parties).

I also think you should disregard any ideas you have about them not being a 'good school for premed'. What does that even mean? A good premed school is a school that will get you an acceptance. Mac can do that. Also, compared to a bigger school like Cornell you'll actually have a chance to interact with your professors in a meaningful way. Letters mean a lot, and you have a great chance to get some good ones.

I guess my point is, if you want to transfer, do it. Just don't do it under the guise of it being for a better premed opportunity, because I simply don't think that's true. Also, don't make any rash decisions.. you have time to think about this. Transferring to a new school entitles a lot of starting over that you may not really want to do.


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5+ Year Member
Jul 31, 2006
Resident [Any Field]
You may be suffering from the grass is greener syndrome. Macalester is a highly regarded liberal arts college. It is respected in academic circles. If you continue to do well at Macalester, have solid extracurriculars, and do well on the MCAT, you will be very competitive when you apply to med school.

I graduated from a small liberal arts college similar to Macalester and now attend a top ten Ivy league med school. I doubt that you would improve your chances in the med school application process by transferring to a larger school on the east coast.

Frankly, the fact that your school does not have alot of premeds is not a negative in my opinion. I tried to avoid hanging out with premeds in college since they tended to be a little too obsessive for my taste.

If you are performing well at Macalester, I would think long and hard before transferring.
Jun 20, 2009
I go to school in Nebraska (NE), so when I glanced at your title I thought you wanted to transfer here... which is funny since I almost went to Mac.

Anyway, you can get into med school from any undergrad as long as you do well. If you're unhappy at Mac, then transfer. If you're not, don't. I would be wary of transferring in the middle of orgo - simply b/c I had the same prof for I & II and it really helped in II. And I'm not sure about this, but some schools may have different curriculum for I & II esp since different books put topics in such a different order. Also, transferring as late as a junior might make it hard for you to graduate in 4 years since all schools require you take a certain amount of credits at their school. Moral of the story, make sure you do all your research before you decide to transfer.
Jul 14, 2009
Thanks guys! So, as much as I would like to use "it will look better and help me get into med schools" as a reason to transfer it sounds like that should not be my reason.

But lets say I still want to transfer, because I was thinking about this before I even started considering the implications it may have for med school, does anyone have some advice on places I could look that will not hurt my chances of getting into med school, eve if they won't improve them? Like I said, I am pretty sure I want to come back to new england, and I want at least a little bit of a larger school.

What do people think about tufts? My mom thinks it would be step down from macalester, and lets face it, I have to convince my parents if I don't want to cause some serious family tension by transferring. Also, anyone know about tufts environmental science program?