The words “transfer student” bring many thoughts to mind: a 20-year-old college student who can’t find the campus dining hall, a kid who spends every waking hour of her life in academic support trying to persuade advisors to help her find a way to let her credits transfer, or maybe a “forced commuter” frantically trying to find a parking spot before heading to class.
Few UR students, other than freshmen, know the pain of trying to get to GLC on the shuttle and ending up at Wal-Mart, or not understanding the complicated lingo of “declining, flex and club.” We suffer. We’re the kids who needed to get into that Poli Sci 293 class but couldn’t because we had to register last and, because of that, couldn’t get into Poli Sci 319 and now our major is screwed up and we most likely won’t graduate on time. It’s painful. We’re the kids who left behind the friends we made last year as freshmen and are now trying to make new connections. That’s painful too.
Adding to the hardships, transfer students must adapt quickly to their new campus. As a freshman, you’re allowed to screw up occasionally, but transfers who are in their second or third year can’t afford to make a D. We need to jump right in if we plan to get involved because we’re already down on time. We’re forced to build ourselves up quickly, before we might be ready. Professors assume that, because we’re already upper-class college students, we can handle the work, but if you transfer from a different type of institution you may not be used to the workload.
Personally, I was rather lucky. As an incoming transfer student I was able to get on-campus housing, the classes I wanted and not suffer any truly embarrassing or traumatizing moments on the shuttle or campus, but I’ve had my moments. I was sure that I would get lost in the tunnel system, curl up into the fetal position and wither away – it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not ruling it out.
College students today have all sorts of reasons for transferring. Some want a smaller campus, others are looking for a certain academic program that wasn’t available at their previous school, some want to be closer to home and some want to be further away.
Whatever the reason is, living on campus can help immensely when a student is adapting to a new school. It’s disappointing to find out that many UR transfers are not able to get housing. When I talked to other transfers during transfer orientation, many of them told me they were commuting from the 19th ward and other areas of the city.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Rochester, but it makes it so much easier when you feel as though you’re a part of the campus as an incoming student. After all, it’s required that all freshmen live on campus because they’re new, but why not transfers? We’re new too. Just because we may have spent two years at some other university doesn’t mean we’ll have an easy time here. Sure, we may be past “Intro to Biology,” but not necessarily “Intro to UR.”
When I first decided to transfer, I was flooded with books, partly thanks to my mom, about transferring. After reading a couple (and skimming through most) I made a list of some rules to try and follow for myself. So, for any of my fellow transfer kids (or students who can’t stand the cold and are looking to transfer from here) these are some good words of advice: get involved with an activity (outside of academia) right away so you have some sort of social outlet apart from your dorm. Explore campus in your free time, so when it’s raining and you have two minutes to get to class you have already mastered the all-important tunnel system. The next one is hard because transfers tend to have the “transfer student pride” where we don’t like to ask for help and try to know what we’re doing, but be open to people and ask questions, even if you feel like you’ll look stupid, because you’ll be better off in the long run. Last but not least, breathing works better than freaking out when things get scary because nothing gets accomplished. Believe me, I know from experience. Also, if you’re a transfer student, you should join Transfer Connection Club to meet other transfers and former transfers.
College students today are transferring in greater numbers, and research shows they tend to be less involved in campus life. Joining clubs and meeting new people will make the experience more enjoyable. After all, it’s a big world out there, or, should I say, a big campus.
Kraus is a member of
the class of 2009.