Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Transferring to Princeton

Three members from the first transfer class at Princeton

Pictured from left to right: Thomas Johnson '22, Daniela Alvarez '21 and Sam Fendler '21

Editor's Note: Since reinstating the transfer program in 2018, the University has welcomed more students who are able to continue to grow the diversity of life experiences on campus. Hear from a few members of Princeton's first transfer class, and how they decided to call Princeton University their home. 

Thomas Johnson '22

Deciding to come to Princeton was a difficult choice. My wife was pregnant with our first child at the time, and I didn’t know if it was going to be a good fit for me and my family. Those doubts quickly faded the more I learned about all the resources available to me on campus. Through speaking with the admission and financial aid staff, I realized the overwhelming support that awaited my family on campus, both educationally and financially. I’ve had the chance to learn from the top minds in my field, some who have literally written the book we use in computer science. Most importantly, I’ve been able to focus on my education while getting the financial assistance needed from Princeton’s generous aid program. I’m glad to be a part of the Princeton community and know that coming here was the right decision.


Daniela Alvarez '21

When I entered Miami Dade College, I knew transferring was my next step. However, I wasn’t exactly sure where I would want to continue my higher education journey. My experiences at community college provided guidance on what I valued in an academic environment and what I was seeking in a transfer institution. For me, community college was like dipping my toes into the shores of academia, and after two years, I felt prepared to dive in fully.

When I began the transfer process, I knew I wanted to transfer to an institution with a strong sense of intellectual rigor and civic engagement embedded into the campus culture. Princeton seemed like a good fit, so I decided to apply. Throughout the application stages, the more I researched the University, the more I fell in love with the opportunities and resources that I would be able to access. During my first semester at Princeton, I quickly learned to value academic resources like the Writing Center, especially as I transitioned into a new style of academic writing that I wasn’t exposed to before. I also think the community that we are building as transfer students here, which I am very excited to see grow, has been one of the best parts of my transfer experience and I am very thankful to be amongst such a wonderful cohort of people and to call them my friends. 


Sam Fendler '21

During my last year in the Marine Corps, I served as a Warfighting Instructor at The Basic School (TBS). TBS is a schoolhouse that supports the training and education of newly commissioned Marine officers, and it is an academically rigorous environment. By being thrown into an environment where I was learning and teaching more about my craft as an infantryman than ever before, I regained a passion for education that was largely extinguished during my high school years. This inspired me to continue my education, and after finishing my enlistment, I enrolled at Penn State University in the fall of 2016 semester. I was extremely nervous to return to the classroom, but I felt that I was prepared for the challenge. As my confidence in the classroom grew, I wanted to continue my pursuit of academic challenge, and that's when I decided to apply to Princeton's newly reestablished transfer program. I wanted to see if I could hack it in the most rigorous academic environment, and it seemed that Princeton was the logical choice of proving ground.

Being from New Jersey, I'd always known about Princeton; however, it seemed unattainable to me. I believe the transfer program represents the value of hard work, and how you can make the seemingly unattainable a reality. For some, high school isn't the best time to showcase our intellectual abilities. After experiencing a tremendous amount of personal growth in the Marine Corps, I was able to succeed at Penn State and show my worth as a scholar. Here at Princeton, I've seen the same amount of hard work that I put in to get here, reflected in my entire transfer cohort. The transfer students are all as intelligent as they are hard-working, and it's been a pleasure to count myself among their ranks. Knowing that this population of non-traditional students will continue to grow over the coming years is very exciting, and I can't wait to welcome the new transfers in the fall.

A11y