The Transfer Transition

Posted December 31, 2007 by

When he transferred to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa last fall, Caleb immediately joined the football team and the choir. He’d been a member of both groups at his old school, so getting involved in these activities at his new school was an easy decision. In fact, since Simpson’s football staff had recruited Caleb, they even helped him out when he first arrived on campus.
You might think Caleb’s transition to Simpson was easy (or at least easier than yours will be!). But Caleb admits that he struggled at first. None of the familiar activities felt the same as they did at his old school. And like most transfer students, he was nervous about meeting new people and about how he would handle his new academic load.

The transition to a new school is never trivial, especially if you’re transferring from a two-year school to a four-year one. It’s normal to feel anxious about your transfer—after all, you already settled into your first school, made friends, and likely found a way to fit in. As a transfer student, you have to start over again, while also managing new academic challenges.
The good news is, colleges understand that the transition can be challenging on many levels for transfer students, and most try to make it as smooth as possible. They provide counselors whose job is to help transfer students adjust, and many schools also host orientations and events specifically for transfer students. And don’t forget that professors are always ready to help if you ask.
Get Involved! Many of the challenges you face as a transfer student are exactly the same ones you faced at your first school: meeting new people, feeling connected to the school, finding your academic groove. The things you did to feel involved then also apply now: put yourself in an environment where you can meet people. Join a club or a sports team. Take part in activities and social events associated with your department or major. Start a study group, or get involved in student government. When you first arrive, be sure to attend any orientation sessions the school offers, especially those geared to transfer students. That will expose you to the many different ways you can get involved, and you’ll meet other students who are also looking to meet people.
Making new friends isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
If you made friends quickly at your last school, here’s your chance to repeat that success. If you struggled a bit last time, consider this a chance to start fresh and try some new tactics. (One student suggests offering gum or mints to classmates as an icebreaker!) Make it a goal to meet and learn the names of at least two or three new people every day. Also, consider getting involved in activities that enable you to work closely with faculty members or staff. These relationships will help you feel connected to the school,
to your department, and to your field of study in a different way than relationships with peers, and they can broaden and enrich your college experience.
Schools make a great effort to get students together in many different ways, so look for options that appeal to you. “Be social,” Caleb advises. “If you don’t get out of your comfort zone and try to experience the college for what it really is, you’ll never know what you’ve been missing.”
The Academic Angle You’ll almost certainly find academic life at your new school quite different from that of your previous one, especially if you transfer from a two-year school to a four-year one. “Expect it to be harder, even if you studied hard at your old school,” says Mishell, who transferred to the University of Tampa in Florida last year. “Be prepared for that, but don’t let it stress you out too much your first semester.”
As a transfer student, you’ll also need to make sure your course credits transferred properly. Although any transcript discrepancies or missing credits are likely to be caught before you arrive at your new school, Anna Lee, transfer student admissions counselor at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, recommends taking a proactive approach. “Be your own advocate for your academic record,” she recommends. “Make sure your transcripts are received, that everything transfers over correctly, and that classes are substituted appropriately. And ask if something doesn’t look right.” You don’t want to find out too late that you missed registering for a class you need or that you took a class you don’t need.
Take Your Time Feeling stress about your transfer is normal, but try not to spend too much time worrying. Most transfer students, even those who get involved in activities right away, admit to sometimes feeling out of place socially and academically, especially during the first semester. These same students usually overcome those feelings within a few months. So as you prepare to transfer to your new school, focus on meeting lots of interesting new people, having challenging new experiences, and enjoying life on your new campus!
Article by Manya Chylinski and courtesy of

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