The Declassified Transfer Survival Guide

It’s the first day of orientation. You’re sitting in the stands, excited to begin the first task on the way to becoming a real Cal student. The speaker begins to welcome the audience and congratulates the freshman class of 2023. But wait -- you’re class of 2021! It’s the first time you’ve felt a real difference between you and the larger population of new students at UC Berkeley. Yes, coming in as a transfer means you are quite the unconventional student. However, just because you have less time to spend here doesn’t mean being a transfer puts you at a disadvantage! In fact, some of the resources offered on campus combined with your unique worldview can give you a leg up during your time here. Here are some tools you can use to make the most out of your two (or more!) years at Cal. 



  1. Go to Golden Bear Orientation (GBO)

Yes, it’s grueling. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it can be a little boring. What people don’t realize is that this orientation is tailored just for you. They generally separate transfers from freshmen, and further separate transfers living on-campus from transfers living off-campus. This makes it super easy to meet people who are not only transfers, but likely have the same living situations as you. The orientation leaders also volunteer their time to take you all over campus (and to San Francisco for a company visit) showing you resources that you will likely utilize later on. It’s important to note that you may not love your group or your leaders at first, but stick around to the very end and you’ll end up with a group of like-minded transfers who genuinely want to learn and get to know each other.


  1. Calapalooza

Each semester, the many clubs at UC Berkeley go out and booth in upper and lower Sproul Plaza. This is a great opportunity to see how many clubs are on campus and search for ones you might like. There really are endless opportunities in all sorts of fields, such as designing, environmentalism, and cultural clubs. Many clubs here require an application and an interview, specifically business or engineering clubs. However, some clubs accept a large community of people and are open to everyone. Participating in Calapalooza will give you a sense of the community involvement here at Cal and open you to so many opportunities of learning, finding your passion, and making a strong group of friends! 



  1. Career Center

UC Berkeley’s Career Center is a useful tool when figuring out what you want to do after graduation. The mentors there can help guide you towards a plan or a goal, and will aid you along the way to getting there. From help in finding an internship to mock-interviews to deciding what to do with you major, the Career Center can do all of that. All you have to do is go in during working hours for quick inquiries, such as resume revisions or questions about career paths, or make an appointment in advance on the Career Center website for more substantial guidance. It’s important for transfers to utilize this at least once, so they can have a sense of confidence when going after jobs or internships during their time here or anytime after. 


  1. Transfer Student Center

The campus Transfer Student Center is the place to be as a transfer student. It can help the transition to a 4-year university go much smoother. They offer peer mentoring from fellow transfer students, advising, and success workshops that can really help those who are lost here at Cal. They even have a kitchen area where all transfer students can come in and make coffee or tea. The center is located in lower Sproul Plaza, easily accessible from MLK Student Union. Definitely go check it out if you want to find a comfortable, welcoming space on campus!


  1. Facebook

Last but not least, Facebook. Nobody here at Cal thinks they’re too cool for Facebook--it’s far too useful to have that mentality. In fact, I love to get notifications everyday for events happening in the area or for posts in the Facebooks groups I belong to. Facebook is the main medium where you can stay connected to the campus community online, especially with on-campus organizations. In addition, we have meme pages for whenever you get stressed, the “interested” button on events for when you kinda want to go but also don’t know for sure, and so much more. Transfers also have their own Facebook page where they can interact and ask questions. This page was extremely useful even before coming to Cal, when everyone was figuring out their schedules and CalCentral tasks. If you want to feel connected and integrated into the community, definitely use Facebook to your advantage here. 


Being a transfer student can be an uncomfortable experience at first--from finding a place to fit in, trying to keep up with other Juniors who entered Cal as freshmen, and just getting used to campus culture in general. However, as long as you utilize the resources and the community around you, everything will slip into place. It helps to pace yourself, so you don’t get overwhelmed, but also push yourself to try new things. Berkeley is intense and the workload will get heavy. But, when you find the time, go out to club info sessions, networking events, and movie nights on Memorial Glade. After all, the more you put into your experience, the more you will get out of it in the end.