New Kids on Campus: Coming From Oklahoma

This week's New Kid On Campus is Matt Bannon, a transfer from Oral Robert University in Oklahoma.

WSN’s Features Desk is investigating the lives of transfer students in a new series we’re calling “New Kids on Campus.” Each piece will feature a Q&A with a transfer student at NYU about their past and present college experiences and how they’ve adjusted New York City.

This week, WSN talked to CAS student Matt Bannon. Originally from Burnaby, British Columbia,  Bannon transferred from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to NYU in fall 2014. Bannon is a 20-year-old math major and economics minor and plans on graduating next May.

WSN: Talk about where you’re originally from and how it compares to New York.

MB: I’m Canadian. I was born near Vancouver and then moved to the Toronto area when I was five years old and grew up there. The town I lived in was really small, around 20,000 people, so it’s very different from here. It’s been a big change coming here but I love it.

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WSN: How and why did you decide to apply and then eventually transfer to NYU?

MB: For me, it wasn’t like I always wanted to come here. But I love it here. The way that it came about was that I started university as a pre-med. I kind of chose that on a whim. My freshman year, over the Christmas break, I visited my cousin who lives in New York. It was my first time in New York and he took me around the city. His wife is a graduate of NYU. They kind of got me interested in coming to New York. He works in finance, so he sparked my interest there. I started looking into that field more, then I realized I wanted to make a change. I looked at the best schools and, geographically and academically, NYU was the best choice.

WSN: Where did you previously go to college and what was that like? How does it compare to NYU?

MB: I went to a small school in Oklahoma called Oral Roberts University. [The two universities are] polar opposite. 3,000 kids including graduate there. It’s a very strict Christian school. It’s also in a small part of the town. It was a private campus and it was just like a bubble. I really didn’t think I was reaching my potential there. It doesn’t really compare to NYU.

WSN: How have you adjusted academically?

MB: I was really ambitious with my course selection, so I was taking honors calculus and really theoretical economics courses. That was great and it really pushed me and I learned a lot, but I suffered in the GPA department. There’s a ton of resources here in terms of tutoring and seeing the best professors in the world for a given topic. I feel like it’s been harder academically, but my improvement has been uncomparable to where I was in my freshman year.

WSN: How has your experience been making friends?

MB: It was tough coming in as a transfer because you don’t have the same community. At my previous school, I was on the track team, so you had a group of people. Nonetheless, I met friends in my classes. In the major that I was — math and economics, now I’m just a math major — the classes were pretty small. You kind of see the same people, so I did make some really good friends. I joined Transfer Student Association this past fall and that’s been great to have a group of people you see on a regular basis.

WSN: What’s been the biggest thing you’ve had to adjust to at NYU?

MB: Probably academics. It’s been really tough. And transportation. Where I come from, you drive everywhere. And here, you find different ways. I got really into biking, so I bike pretty much everywhere. That was kind of tough — not being able to just jump in the car and go somewhere.

WSN: What’s one thing you would advise either current or incoming transfer students to do?

MB: Choose a light course load for your first semester. Work really hard to choose the lightest course load possible but still meet your requirements. Find one group or one association to join, just to get a familiar group of faces. Enjoy it. And then after that, take harder classes. But when you come in, take a lighter course load.

Note: the questions and answers in this interview have been edited for length and clarity purposes.

Email Jessica Martinez at [email protected] 

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