Transitioning as a Transfer Student

Deciding which colleges to apply to is a pretty daunting task to make as a junior or senior in high school. There are almost an infinite number of factors to consider  when choosing which college is the best fit for you. However, some of us have to make that difficult decision yet again after already enrolling in a college.    

As a transfer student from UC Berkeley, I know there are not nearly as many resources available for potential transfer students as there are for incoming freshmen, thus making the transition process even more confusing. To try and ease some of your concerns and stress, here is a quick guide based off of my own experience as a transfer student . Hopefully, this guide helps make the decision to transfer or the transition itself a little easier for you!

  1. 1. Just Breathe

    Firstly and most importantly, just breathe…More likely than not, there is some set of circumstances that have led you to consider transferring; it is completely valid to question if your current college is the right fit for you! Whether the reason is financial in nature, major-specific, or even just due to location, understand that it is okay to have a change of heart. You didn’t make a mistake, you just simply realized there may be a better option for you. College is a place where you will potentially spend 2-4 years (or more) of your life, and it’s natural to question if you’ve made the right choice.

  2. 2. Pros & Cons List

    If you are currently trying to decide whether or not to transfer, a good strategy is to make a solid pros and cons list. Writing things out helps us better visualize what we can’t unpack in our heads and can also alleviate some frustration. Of course, every college has both pros and cons, so understand that no matter where you end up, there will be positives and negatives. However, you should try to prioritize which of these pros and cons are ultimately the most important to you. You can emphasize these factors on your list, and this should help clarify  whether or not transferring is right for you.

  3. 3. Plan a Visit

    Another one of my recommendations to help decide whether or not you want to transfer is to visit the places you are considering (if possible). Sometimes, this isn’t an option; however,  if it is, it is definitely worth your time. Though this may seem like a given, students sometimes assume they know what a place is like because of social media or because of their friends who go there, etc., and they end up not knowing what the atmosphere is actually like on or around campus. The campus atmosphere can be just as important as the mission of the college itself, and visiting can give you a better grasp of that.

  4. 4. Avoid "What Ifs"

    If you have gone through all the steps of deciding that transferring is right for you and you find yourself starting over somewhere new, something important to avoid are the sneaky “what if’s.” Seeing pictures from your friends or hearing about all the things happening at your former university can make it easy to start imagining what your life would have been like if you had stayed (especially if transferring wasn’t your choice). But you shouldn’t let that get you down! Appreciate your past experiences, and allow them to help you grow as you make this new transition. You should also make sure to stay connected with your friends and visit them as they can be a source of support during this new transition. Afterall, just because you are transferring doesn't mean they can't continue to be a part of your life! Simply trust that transferring was the right decision. It is important to give yourself time to settle in; as long as you stay positive, you will get into the swing of things in no time!

  5. 5. Connect With Other Transfers

    Another way to make your transition easier is to connect with other transfer students! At first, it may feel a bit daunting to make new friends all over again; but, in actuality, having other transfers around who understand what it feels like can help ease that stress. And, of course, making new friends is important too, as they can help show you the ropes of your new university. The easiest way to make new friends is to dive into clubs on campus. Even though it may seem like a lot at first, you might actually end up finding it easier to connect with those who share the same interests as you! Ultimately, you might end up realizing that college life across different universities is actually very similar, thus making transitioning more natural than you initially thought.

  6. 6. Connect With Your Advisor

    Another good way to get on track at your new university is to become close with your advisor. Advisors are there to help you, and some colleges may even offer an advisor specifically for transfers. Take advantage of this resource as they can give you the added direction and mentorship you need to start your new and exciting journey. Don’t be afraid to send emails and check-in frequently since it can be easy to feel lost and left behind. Your advisor can also give you tips on how to stay on track or recommend what classes you should take to fulfill your new university’s requirements. It is also a good idea to contact your new university and find out if your credits from your previous college can transfer over.

  7. 7. Remember: You Belong

    Lastly, one of the most important things to remember as a transfer student is that you belong. You deserve to be at the university you are transferring to. Even though you may not have received the full “4 year experience” at your new university, you have plenty of time to create new memories. Trust your gut as this decision is tough. But, no matter where you are, you can absolutely make the best of your experience and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.