A Conversation with Minerva Transfer Student Anais

Mar 29, 2022

Quick Facts

Anais Chen

Home Country


Business & Arts and Humanities


Why did you choose to transfer to Minerva? What convinced you that it was the right school for you?

The classic university model was not a good fit for me. After my midterms in the second semester at my previous university, I realized I did not remember anything from the first semester. I was working hard and doing everything right, but I was still not retaining anything. I was really frustrated. Minerva was different because I didn’t have to memorize anything, which felt like the most useless part of my educational experience. I wanted to give something else a try.

What has been the biggest difference at Minerva?

I actually remember a lot of the things I have learned. When we are studying concepts, we apply them in assignments and, for the most part, I get to choose the topics. I usually choose things I care about, and then I get to attach what I am learning to something real. I often speak to my friends or family about an exciting project that I have worked on, and in the process of telling them about it, I recall the concepts we learned in class. My interest and retention level are better because I can make those associations, so it sticks in my brain better. Another thing is that I actually feel confident applying a lot of my knowledge, which is different. At my prior university, I did not feel that I was able to transfer concepts outside of the classroom at all because I felt like I did not know them well enough. At Minerva, we practice doing that in assignments so I am much more comfortable.

How would you describe the Minerva community?

I know we don’t think this about our friends, but at home, everyone is kind of the same person. You grow up similarly, the friends you tend to be around typically are from the same socioeconomic background, and you tend to group with people that study the same thing as you. At Minerva, there is a lot more variety in terms of what people care about, which impacts what is on everyone’s mind and what you end up discussing. I am not just around people that study what I do, and when we have discussions, it feels like everyone has a unique opinion. Even on the same side of the argument, people have different examples, so it just feels like there are a lot more perspectives that I would not have considered. The second thing is that the community is tight-knit. We are together through it all. It feels like the experience of moving around a lot would have been isolating if I was not surrounded by people who were experiencing Minerva with me.

Have you participated in a co-curricular or civic project that has changed how you think? If so, what co-curricular was it and how did it challenge your perspective?

In my second year, I did a civic challenge with a bioorganic vegan-certified farm in Berlin that delivers vegetable boxes every month on a subscription basis. They used a cooperative model, so people would pay a certain amount of money and get a stake in the company. They would get no financial returns, but they were able to vote. I did not understand why someone would invest in an organization without receiving profits. I was surprised that this business model worked but the CEO raised a lot of money, people were committed to the company, and it felt like a scalable solution. During this time, I started taking business classes that were focused on profits, so it was great to work with a company whose focus was not profiting at all. I spoke to the CEO, and he seemed to not care how much he made, it was just this thing that he wanted to do. It was nice to see that companies exist that have a different model not centered around profitability and can also be scalable and do well. That became a reference point for my business class as well which I used to push back on things I did not like.

What do you aspire to do when you graduate? What is a problem you would like to address in the world?

I care about climate justice and indigenous sovereignty, but something more concrete that I want to work on is the exploitation of labor in supply chains. Two ways to approach this topic would be working on private sector solutions or changing the usual practices within an industry. That feels like the best way to approach climate justice right now.

What advice would you give those who are considering transferring to Minerva?

Think deeply about what you are interested in. In high school, you choose a path, and that is where you see yourself heading. It is so easy to think that those are your only interests. And when you go to university, you probably wouldn't question this. Minerva is structured differently. You have to take a breadth of courses, and you have a chance to properly explore your passions and engage in a lot of things you are interested in. If I was going to take a philosophy class at a traditional university, I would just write about the theories. I wouldn’t get to choose to transfer my interests in indigenous sovereignty and make that the central point of those classes. We have so much flexibility in choosing what we want to learn, so I think being aware of what you are actually interested in and how that might differ from what you are currently studying will be helpful when thinking about what university you want to transfer to. If you transfer to Minerva, don’t be anchored to your previous school. Let yourself explore.

What else would you like to share about Minerva?

I think that a lot of people have a pretty rigid conception of what school looks like but it does not have to be that way. You can get so much more out of your education than traditional settings offer, and Minerva is proof of that.

If you were inspired by Anais’ story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.