The Tandon School of Engineering was founded in 1854, making it the second oldest private engineering school in the country. Previously named the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, the school acquired a new name from NYU and a check for 100 million dollars from Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon in 2015. NYU alone has publicly committed to investing 500 million dollars into the school. Despite the money being dedicated, students looking to transfer out of Tandon are plentiful.
Tisch junior and film and TV major Rhea Dudani is an example. Dudani started out as a biomolecular sciences major, but decided to pursue her childhood dream of being a filmmaker at Tisch after her first year.
“I loved Tandon,” Dudani said. “For me, the classes went well and it wasn’t too time-consuming. However, I woke up everyday uninspired with my major.”
CAS junior and economics major Donny Albach came to NYU to be a member of the wrestling team and a civil engineering major. His decision to transfer came in part from the difficulty of balancing a demanding course load with his commute. Six days a week, Albach had to travel over an hour to NYU’s Washington Square campus for training.
“I didn’t want to give up my sport for my major,” said Albach, who has been wrestling since he was six years old.
Albach decided to transfer out of civil engineering into economics at CAS, which has a more manageable course load for a student-athlete. Economics would give him the largest number of credits post-transfer, meaning that he would be able to wrestle and still graduate in four years.
Dudani and Albach are just two of many who have left the engineering school behind. Even though they had different transfer requirements, they both agreed that the lack of a standard process makes transferring out of Tandon extremely difficult.
Some students go into the process blindly rather than relying on advisors. All five students featured in this article noted that they wanted better advisors and more consistent answers regarding the transfer process. Students say advisors directed them to websites or discouraged them from transferring in general, citing the extra cost of a late graduation. CAS sophomore Ghislaine Jumonville transferred out of Tandon’s biomolecular engineering major into economics. When asked whether the process went smoothly, Jumonville sighed.
Jumonville decided to transfer out of biomolecular engineering into economics because, frankly, she “just didn’t want to be an engineer.”
“Credit transferring … oh boy, oh boy,” she said.
Albach shared this sentiment, saying that figuring out how his credits would transfer was the most difficult part of the whole process.
“I basically pulled the trigger of continuing with transferring not knowing if graduating late would be my future,” Albach said. “I actually received the most help from a fellow student.”
Like Albach, when Jumonville started her transfer process, she noticed a lack of standard information on what credits would transfer to her new major. She felt that there was no consistency between different schools’ requirements, leaving her confused. One advisor told her that her chemistry and biology classes fit the required CAS course curriculum, while another told her the classes at an engineering school are different, so retaking them would be mandatory. She eventually decided on economics because like Albach, most of the classes she had had already taken would count toward the major.
“NYU could have made it a lot easier. Overall, I’m glad I did it,” Jumonville said. “My only complaint is lack of coordination between schools about what classes will transfer.”
Courant junior Dev Mithal decided to leave Tandon’s computer science major due to administration not allowing him to double major in mathematics and computer science. For those like Mithal, who transferred to a similar field of study at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the transfer process was made easier because the advisors of the new program he chose happened to be helpful.
“Tandon admin was not cooperating with my academic goals,” Mithal explained.
But once Mithal decided his eyes were set on Courant, he had no problem transferring.
“The Courant advisers were extremely helpful,” Mithal said. “From my experience, Tandon advisers were not helpful. If you want to get anything done, talk to the school you’re interested in transferring into.”
Not everyone believes that Tandon’s messy transfer process is a reason to dismiss it entirely; Dudani is still extremely enthusiastic about Tandon and even decided to be a Brooklyn ambassador as a Tisch student. Dudani does not live in Brooklyn but is passionate about the experiences Tandon gave her and wants other prospective students to understand their opportunities there, even if the school is not always perfect.
“The structure of Tandon is like a child that is growing. You can’t expect a child to be fully functioning in its first few years,” Dudani said.
Many assume that Tandon’s isolated Brooklyn campus is low on community, but almost all of the students featured agree that they have found some of their best friends in college at Tandon. The decision to transfer may be driven by academic passion, but that doesn’t preclude feelings of nostalgia or regret.
“I regretted the first month,” Dudani said. “I missed the community at Tandon. I even called my parents to tell them I wanted to transfer back.”
Tandon sophomore Emily Bianchini is extremely passionate about her major in biomolecular sciences on the pre-med honors track and is hopeful for the opportunities Tandon will bring her post-graduation.
“I am confident that Tandon will aid in what I want to do in the future … I like that you have repeat professors so I can build relationships,” Bianchini said. “You really do get to know the people in your major.”
Bianchini tried out some CAS classes over the summer, which ultimately cemented her desire to stay at Tandon.
“Tandon feels more collaborative than CAS,” Bianchini said.
While feelings of attachment are common, the decision of whether or not to transfer was ultimately a highly personal one for the students interviewed.
“If I had stayed in Tandon, I would not have regretted it either, but I still felt like I had to leave,” Albach said.
Email Kiara at [email protected].