How to Make the Most of Your First Semester as a Transfer

First, I must say: congratulations! Transferring is never easy. You survived awkward conversations, another round of Common App, hours and hours of research, and a school that wasn’t a match in order for you to arrive here. I can honestly say that transferring to Barnard is the best decision I have ever made, and I hope you eventually feel the same. In the meantime, here are some tips for making the most of your first semester as a Barnard transfer.

  1. Connect with other transfers (but not just transfers)

My orientation group consisted entirely of transfers, and my OL was a transfer student herself. NSOP was a great opportunity for me to connect with other transfers and discuss our experiences. After a few weeks of only meeting transfers, however, I was itching to get to know some students that already call Barnard home. In your first semester after transferring, I highly recommend reaching out to upperclassmen with similar interests. First-years are great, and of course, are amazing friends, but as a transfer, I was longing to connect with students who were used to being in college. To find friends outside of the transfer community, I recommend joining class Facebook groups (all of them!) and not only reading posts about clubs and organizations, but also seeing who is posting them. If you love writing and see a post in the Facebook group urging you to join Her Campus (which you obviously should), reach out to the person who made that post. I have found everyone I have reached out to about getting a coffee or a meal has been incredibly responsive and interested in getting to know me.

  1. Join clubs and organizations early

It can be tempting to put off joining clubs until you are settled into Barnard life, but I highly recommend getting involved as soon as you possibly can. As a transfer student, you are you only beginning your involvement with a student group as a sophomore or junior, and if you are looking to eventually have a leadership position, you need to maximize your time in the club. I don’t mean to scare you, though! In some organizations, I took on a leadership role as soon as one semester after joining. The key to earning a leadership position as a transfer student is bringing new insight (maybe a group at your old school did something very well that you could mention), identifying potential problems, offering solutions to them, and showing dedication. I made sure to attend all club meetings (barring illness) and to arrive early so that I could get to know the club officers before the meeting began. Officers noticed the extra effort I put in, and I also made friends in the process.

  1. Understand (and accept) that things will be different

My previous school had its own language. You may think I am kidding, but when I arrived at Barnard using phrases like @now, blitz, and warm-cut, I stuck out like a sore thumb. A big part of transferring, for me, has been reconciling two very different identities. At my first school, my dominant personality trait was misery. Homesickness, loneliness, and general dissatisfaction with my choice of school combined to create a very unhappy existence where my main goal was leaving. Flash forward a year later, and without that sadness, I had to figure out who college-me was. I wanted to move on and embrace Barnard, but I also didn’t want to let go of a part of my identity which had been so central to leading me to this point. To some extent, all transfers will work to balance these different identities, and my advice is to love Barnard for all of its amazing aspects, but also to let yourself feel whatever emotions you have for your first school, whether it is nostalgia, sadness, resentment, or some combination.

  1. Find out where you stand credit-wise, and clear up any discrepancies sooner rather than later

This is more practical advice, but just as important. As soon as you get your UNI (and your transfer credit evaluation), log in to my.barnard.edu and check out your degree audit. This is the place where you find out how many credits you have earned, how many requirements you have fulfilled, and what you still need. Go over this page carefully and make a note of which requirements have not been completed. If anything about the degree audit seems incorrect (mistakes are, unfortunately, very common), contact Dean Kaun Tsu immediately to clarify or get things sorted out. It is very easy to let mistakes go, and then arrive on your senior year realizing that you are missing a certain requirement. Additionally, having all of your credits and requirements in order is helpful when deciding whether you should study abroad. Transfers can definitely study abroad, but it requires careful planning!

  1. Familiarize yourself with Morningside Heights, and New York City as a whole

As with first-years, you are probably entering Barnard with limited knowledge of Morningside Heights and other parts of the city. That’s okay(!), though it can feel embarrassing as a sophomore to ask a new friend what they mean when they say “let’s meet at Hungarian.” Take advantage of the beautiful September weather and spend time, either by yourself or with other first-years/transfers, exploring the area. Visit Riverside Park and remember what trees and grass look like. Travel down to SoHo and enjoy an overpriced, messy, but delicious Cronut. Ride the subway a little bit longer and take in another borough. Yes, Barnard is your new home, but by extension, New York City is also. This city has so much to offer and you will feel like a local much quicker when you take the time to see it.