Kensinger discusses decision to transfer, transition to Colby

John Kensinger ’17, a transfer student from the University of St. Andrews, is a global studies major with a focus on Southeast Asia. Kensinger has become very involved in the Colby community since he arrived on the Hill in late August. “I really enjoy reading, especially stuff  [that is] fitness/ health related. Since coming to Colby, I’ve joined the club Water Polo team and [I] am also a member of the Junior Class Council,” Kensinger wrote in an email correspondence.

Although Kensinger is from Los Angeles, he wanted the opportunity to see the world during his college experience. “I originally chose St. Andrews because I wanted the opportunity to travel and see as much of the world as possible. Accordingly, attending such an international university that is within reach of so many travel destination was a no-brainer,” he said.

While he enjoyed his first two years in Scotland, Kensinger began to crave more of a liberal arts experience. “I chose to transfer to Colby because I felt like I was missing something academically at St. Andrews. As St. Andrews runs on a rigid academic system—meaning that you apply in for your major and focus predominantly on courses pertaining to that major throughout your undergraduate career – there was little chance to explore other academic subjects that interested me,” he explained.

He decided to change the path of his educational career: “In the end, I ended up feeling a little bit removed from my initial degree choice and found myself slightly frustrated. On the other hand, Colby’s liberal arts curriculum has allowed me to take more classes, especially ones that may not pertain to my major but still interest me; this is my main reason for transferring.” In addition, Kensinger realized he desired a smaller, more intimate community.

He continued, “Furthermore, Colby’s size allows for more interaction with both peers and professors, an important component in a satisfying undergraduate experience, in my option.”

St. Andrews and Colby are two extremely different schools, and Kensinger noted these differences during his interview. “Academically, the biggest difference is illustrated by the lack of course layout at St. Andrews versus Colby. Socially, there was much more autonomy that came with downtown at St. Andrews, particularly due to the lower drinking age (18 years) as well as the touristy (and on the rare sunny day, bustling) atmosphere of the town,” he said. Kensinger now enjoys a more campus-centered social life as well as the outdoor experience that Maine offers.

While Kensinger acknowledges the differences between St. Andrews and Colby, he has also begun to recognize certain similarities: “While there are definitely many differences [between the two schools], I’d say that one thing that certainly unites the schools is their student’s drive and ability in planning and providing fun events. Whether academic, athletic, or social, both schools have been able to cater well to interests outside of the classroom and normal school hours.”

There are a variety of difficulties involved with being a transfer student, but Kensinger states that the academic transition has been the hardest aspect for him thus far. “The biggest difficulty for me has been the academic work load. I was used to much more academic autonomy in the sense that I would only have a few assignments for every week or so, whereas at Colby I constantly have work to do! While not necessarily more difficult, it has certainly been more overwhelming,” Kensinger explained.

While the academic transition has been difficult for Kensinger, especially as a junior, he is grateful for the friends he has made and the welcoming nature of the Colby community: “I’ve had the chance to meet some really amazing people and have begun to cultivate friendships that I know will last long after the Colby years.”

Kensinger is also thankful for the help that his professors gave him throughout this transition.  “Coming in, the professors and staff were incredibly helpful in guiding me throughout the class selection process. Many professors were very patient with my constant course swapping and were able to help me get everything sorted out right off the bat,” Kensinger wrote.

Kensinger has begun to find his place at the College, but he notes that it took him a long time due to the College’s close-knit community. At the end of the interview, Kensinger offered advice to possible incoming students: “My only piece of advice would be to know that it definitely takes time to get settled, especially in such a tight-knit community where joining in at first can seem bit difficult. Once you find the right people, classes, and activities, the rest begins to fall into place. Personally, I’m just beginning to feel comfortable at Colby, and it has been almost two months since I first arrived.”


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