My Davidson | A Student Blog Heading from the West to the East Coast for College

students walk on a brick pathway while fall foliage glows in the background

Five students from the western United States share what it was like to move to the east coast for college and offer advice for prospective students considering the decision to attend an east coast school like Davidson College. 


About the Authors

This article was co-written by five students from the western United States: 

  • Anika Banerjee '24
  • Kyle Berlage '26
  • Audrey Bohlin '25
  • Elise Desjarlais '26
  • Hunter Jue '26 and 
  • Priscila Magallan '27. 

Learn more about them below and explore the Davidson experience for students from the west coast


Anika Banerjee '24

a young woman wearing a black blazer and a maroon top with black hair smiles

Anika Banerjee '24 (she/her) is a political science and communication studies double major from Boulder, Colorado. “Favorite thing to do off campus? As someone who really enjoys good food, I like checking out the various restaurants in Davidson near campus. There's a lot of diversity and creativity in the culinary options, making it a fun experience. Additionally, I'm a fan of North Carolina's stunning natural scenery. Whether I'm taking a two-hour drive to Asheville or a three-hour trip to the ocean, I actively embrace the outdoors to soak in the beauty that North Carolina has to offer. It's a great way for me to unwind and appreciate the lovely landscapes the state has.”

Why did you choose Davidson? 

Choosing Davidson was a natural decision for me. At my school in Colorado I was able to foster such wonderful relationships with my peers and teachers, so I narrowed my college search on a school that could give me a similar experience. Davidson values professors who prioritize teaching over research, which is evident in the classroom. Here, education is a collaborative journey, and every student has the chance to shine as a leader. Davidson's commitment to individual empowerment and a shared passion for learning resonates with my desire for a close-knit, vibrant academic community.

What was your transition from the west coast to Davidson like? What do you wish you had known?

Beginning my freshman year at Davidson amidst the COVID-19 pandemic posed some challenges, but the transition turned out to be surprisingly smooth. The carefully selected community at Davidson exhibited kindness and creativity, transforming the limitations on socializing into unique opportunities for connection. We found inventive ways to foster camaraderie, from gathering for NBA tournament screenings to enjoying shared dinners on Main Street. This open and welcoming atmosphere made the initial period feel comfortable and allowed us to quickly form bonds.

I wish I had known about Davidson College's vibrant alumni network and the lasting connections it fosters. The support for career development extends well beyond graduation, creating a community that's not just for four years but for a lifetime. When looking for internships, guidance, or general advice, the alumni network is always at our disposal. It would have made my decision easier, knowing I'd be part of a network committed to ongoing success and support.

What advice do you have for prospective students going through the admission process?

Recognize and value the advantages of a more intimate campus setting. Davidson's smaller size cultivates a tight-knit community, offers individualized attention from professors, and facilitates meaningful connections with peers, distinguishing it from larger universities.

Kyle Berlage '26

Kyle Berlage '26

Kyle Berlage '26 (he/him) is an economics and computer science double major from San Diego, California. “Favorite thing to do off-campus? I love hanging out in Uptown Charlotte because it's really a cool city. However, if I want to be reminded of home, nothing beats a quick trip to Trader Joe's.”

Why did you choose Davidson? 

Initially, I was hesitant to choose a college so far from home. However, once I visited Davidson, I felt a sense of belonging so strong that the distance didn't seem to matter. The experience of being at Davidson combines a number of incredibly important factors for me. The academics are unparalleled, the community is welcoming, and the campus has a seemingly endless list of facilities I use daily. Being at Davidson is not about who is the smartest or endless competition with your peers. Rather, Davidson is a place where you can develop and find your passions unlike anywhere else.

What was your transition from the west coast to Davidson like? What do you wish you had known?

I traveled to Davidson alone, with my two IKEA bags, a suitcase, and a backpack, but the second I landed at the Charlotte airport I was greeted with a striking amount of support from current Davidson students and the staff. My trip leaders for the Outdoor Odyssey program drove me from the airport to campus, where we started a weekend trek in a small group. While orientation lasted only a few days, getting to know my classmates took much longer. Thankfully, Davidson students are quite open to meeting new people and within a few weeks, I met some of my best friends to this day.

The student body of Davidson is far more diverse than you may realize, especially internationally. When I first came to Davidson, I was expecting the majority of people I met to be from the South, but that was certainly not the case. I know people from all over the country, and many from outside the U.S. I even had the privilege to go visit them over the summer in their home countries!

What advice do you have for prospective students going through the admission process?

Navigating the college process can be really stressful and difficult. Just remember that you'll end up in the place you're meant to go to. 

Audrey Bohlin '25

a young white woman wearing a blue blouse with brown hair

Audrey Bohlin '25 (she/her) is an English major from Santa Fe, New Mexico. My favorite thing to do off-campus is to volunteer on Saturday mornings at the local community garden with some friends. We usually tend to the garden, chat, take some flowers or produce back to campus. It has helped me to make a lot of friends within the town of Davidson! There's also a farmer's market on the walk back with amazing flowers and donuts."

Why did you choose Davidson? 

A family friend toured Davidson and came to tell me that I would love it so I kept it on my list through out the college search. Throughout the process I was overwhelmed by all the choices but bit by bit I realized that Davidson is my goldilocks school. I wanted a small school with the spirit and resources of a big school. The ability to be friends with people in majors and activities of all kinds means that there is a supportive community all across campus.

What was your transition from the west coast to Davidson like? What do you wish you had known?

I never got to tour Davidson before committing so I was terrified to get to campus. However, the moment I stepped on campus and was welcomed by the high energy, super helpful orientation team I realized that I could see myself on this campus. Walking around campus it is almost impossible to get from one building to another without saying hello to multiple people, even strangers, and over the past three years I've loved being able to gain more connections with people around campus and in the town of Davidson. 

The amount of resources that Davidson has for students who are looking to pursue all kinds of opportunities is something that I wish I had known earlier. The college truly wants students to be able to experiment and experience many things so there are advisors and funds available to make students' interests possible.

What advice do you have for prospective students going through the admission process?

The best advice I received while choosing colleges was to tour schools of different sizes and different strengths so that you can understand what school will fit your interests best.

Elise Desjarlais '26

a young woman with light brown hair wearing a navy top and smiling

Elise Desjarlais '26 (she/her) is an intended chemistry major and genomics minor on the premedicine track from Pasadena, California. “Favorite thing to do off-campus? I love to go on random, fun excursions into Charlotte, including trying new restaurants and visiting my friend's house to have a home-cooked meal and hang out with her two golden retrievers!”

Why did you choose Davidson? 

If I am being honest, I didn't expect myself to commit to Davidson, but in the time leading up to my decision, Davidson surprised me in so many amazing ways. I always knew Davidson was a school I was interested in, combining all the benefits of a small school environment with the resources to sustain stellar academics and D1 athletics. However, what truly made a difference in my decision was being able to picture myself as part of the Davidson community. I had various conversations with current students and alumni that told me stories of the welcoming and passionate student body, including one about Steph Curry offering to wear a campaign shirt around campus to help someone win a student election. On my admitted students day, I walked around the campus in awe as people made their way to class smiling and yelled across the campus at each other just to say “hi.” I met other admitted students that were so excited to get to know me, even though there was no guarantee that we would ever see each other again. All of these moments and so much more exemplified the vibrant, friendly community that I quickly felt I needed to be a part of, and I couldn't be happier with my decision. To me, Davidson is so much more than a list of statistics and interesting facts. It took me visiting to truly understand the magic of this college, as I watched students run around playing the campus-wide game of Humans vs Zombies and rave about their freshman flicker-ball teams. This is what I hope to convey to potential students who are now in the exact same incredibly difficult situation I once was. 

What was your transition from the west coast to Davidson like? What do you wish you had known?

My transition into Davidson was made so smooth by all of my upperclass student mentors. When I first arrived, a senior from the west-coast, whom I had a singular conversation with over the phone when making my decision, eagerly invited me and all of my friends over to her apartment to welcome us to college. My hall counselors quickly fostered a close-knit hall community, staying up late with us to play Uno on our first night at college, and jumped at the opportunity to be our flickerball coaches. My orientation team mentor still excitedly says “hi” to me to this day and is such a source of positivity. All of these upperclass students made my transition to Davidson so smooth that it was easy for me to almost instantly feel like a part of the Davidson community.

I wish I realized how important the walkability of this campus was. Since nothing is more than a 10 minute walk away, my friends and I are constantly going to random campus events at all times. We will see flyers for sports games, fun events with puppies, or random crafting events and decide on a whim to attend and have the best time. Davidson's campus is always bustling with a variety of activities and I love that I am able to take advantage of all of them without needing to be part of a specific organization or having to sign up to attend certain events.

What advice do you have for prospective students going through the admission process?

Don't be afraid to reach out! Everyone at Davidson is so friendly and loves to talk about their experience, whether they are a student or faculty member. Also, go to every social event with dogs, it will become your favorite part of Davidson.

Hunter Jue '26

a young Asian woman wearing a black top and smiling

Hunter Jue '26 (she/her) is an environmental studies major and data science minor on the prelaw track from Orange County, California. “Favorite thing to do off campus? I love to go to our lake campus and go out to eat (let me know if you need any food recommendations)!”

Why did you choose Davidson? 

I was initially drawn to Davidson College for its rigorous academic programs and the infinite opportunities that are accessible through the college. But what solidified my decision to make Davidson my home was the vibrant, genuine community that I was welcomed into as soon as I stepped onto the campus. I am so grateful that I made the decision to go to this institution as I have met life-long friends and mentors, and know that I will always have the support of Davidson in my future.

What was your transition from the west coast to Davidson like? What do you wish you had known?

Davidson's environment is definitely different from what I grew up with, but in the best way possible. One of the things that has stood out to me the most is how caring and friendly everyone has been here. I am constantly being invited into people's homes for dinner, who I have just met, and had offers to stay at their homes if I ever find myself in their city. Southern hospitality is real!

The faculty at Davidson are not only incredibly intelligent, but supportive and caring. They are always looking out for your best interest and provide engaging, thoughtful classes. At first they may be intimidating, but they are so passionate about the students' well-being and are amazing people to form connections with. 

What advice do you have for prospective students going through the admission process?

Connect with professors and go to office hours!

Priscila Magallan '27

a young woman wearing a lavender top with brown hair smiles

Priscila Magallan '27 (she/her) is an intended political science major and Hispanic studies minor from Los Angeles and Santa Rosa, California. “My favorite thing to do off campus is go to the farmers market and get boba with my friends.”

Why did you choose Davidson? 

I chose Davidson because of the small welcoming and trusting community. I wanted a school that would allow me to have the academic resources I needed to prosper in college, and Davidson gave me just that. 

What was your transition from the west coast to Davidson like? What do you wish you had known?

The STRIDE orientation program helped me transition and made Davidson feel like home. Being able to find my community of people that I could relate to, meet new people, and receive a mentor to help me with any questions was beyond welcoming. 

An important detail about Davidson that would have made my college choice easier is how much support you have throughout your college career. As a first-generation student, applying to college was difficult and included asking for help a lot. The resources here at Davidson, including the writing center, tutoring, office hours, advising, career support, and much more, have been very helpful as a student trying to adjust to college. If I knew I would have this much support, my choice would have always been Davidson.  

What advice do you have for prospective students going through the admission process?

Do your research before you commit to a school. You will be there for the next four years, and you need to make sure it will fit both your personal and academic needs.

Published

  • January 5, 2024