Surviving My First Quarter: A Transfer Student Experience


    According to the Transfer Student Center, transfer students make up 20% of the undergraduate population here at UCI. As a transfer student myself, what I think makes us unique is that our stories and our backgrounds differentiate us from the traditional student at the university. For example, some of us are returning students, adult learners, parents, etc. Because we are such a diverse group with different backgrounds, it can be difficult to transition from a community college or another college to the university level. Although the first quarter for a transfer student can be challenging, many transfer students tend to perform better academically because they come to the university well-prepared for success. 

  If I could describe my first quarter as a new transfer student in three words, it would be: experimental, rapid, and enjoyable. My transition to the UC system, and a new environment in general, wasn't too difficult. The thought of transitioning from a small campus to a big campus frightened me. But to my surprise, adapting from the community college campus to UCI's campus went smoothly. I was not overwhelmed by the campus nor did I feel out of place or lost in my environment. I did, however, find it difficult to interact with people. It was difficult to approach anyone because most people hung around in groups, making it more intimidating to break the ice. Though there were hundreds of new students brushing shoulders with me every day, it seemed like everyone knew each other, while I knew no one. 

   The course material is slightly similar to the course work presented at community college. One notable difference is that I am required to read more often and in larger amounts than at my community college, where textbooks are optional. I've developed a love/hate relationship with the quarter system mostly due to the duration of weeks. Community college is taught on a semester system, consisting of fifteen weeks, whereas a quarter system consists of ten weeks. At community college, I had more time to learn material, more time to work on assignments, and more time to indulge in myself without getting behind on work. Here at UCI, time creeps up on me. I underestimated how fast ten weeks go by. I was constantly reading and getting ready for exams. It's like jumping onto a moving train and holding on for dear life. It was a lot of hard work and the end came a lot sooner than it did on the semester system. 

   I used this quarter as my 'experimental quarter' to learn how the system works, what I can expect for the following quarters, how I can improve my habits to better my performance, how I can improve my study skills, and how I can squeeze in time for myself. This quarter has also taught me a lot about myself as a student and as an individual. There are many things I need to improve on and change in order to produce my best work possible. I'm a bit of a shy person, and breaking away from my shyness is something I need to work on to build strong relationships. 

  I just recently took a stroll throughout the whole campus and it reminded me of why I chose UCI. The campus possesses a mellow ambiance that I can relate to in a way. It was important for me to feel comfortable on campus when choosing schools, and UCI did just that. There are still so many things that I've yet to learn about the campus, the students, etc., but so far, it has been an enjoyable, eye-opening experience.   


But this is just my story. There are hundreds of transfer students on campus with similar and different stories. I went around campus asking other transfer students about their first quarter experience, and here is what they had to say: 


Who: Abbygale Gonzalez 

Community College: Cabrillo College, Santa Cruz, CA 

Major: International Studies 



Why UCI?: I chose UCI because it was away from home. I saw it as an opportunity to branch out and leave my comfort zone. Also, UCI offered the international studies program I was looking for.

Do you feel as though you have transitioned well into the university system? More or less I feel as though I have adapted, but there are a lot of other aspects that I need to get used to. I like the quarter system because I feel like I'm not wasting my time. The semester system is long and tedious and at times, so it almost feels redundant. [The quarter system] definitely keeps you on your toes. There isn't enough time for error, so only your best work can only be produced. So far I have adapted pretty well considering that I am a transfer student. I am satisfied.    

What is one thing you have learned this quarter that you can apply during your time here at UCI?: I've learned that you have to keep an open mind anytime that there is some sort of transition in your life. Sometimes we don't understand how important it is to have an open heart and mind and allow these new experiences to enrich our lives. Your attitude means everything because ultimately you have the power to make an experience good or bad. 


Who: Nick Ayad

Community College: Ohlone College, Fremont, CA

Major: Criminology and Law

Why UCI?: I chose UCI because it has a very successful Criminology, Law and Society program. I also knew that there were opportunities for me to get involved in research where I could work directly with my professors on things I have a serious interest in.

Do you feel as though you have transitioned well into the university system?: I do feel like I have transitioned well. I joined the rugby club where I met some good people who I think I will be close with for a long time. I felt like I had a lot of opportunities to get involved with things and the hardest part was committing to one thing, whether it be Greek life, research, an academic club or a sports club. And for me, I am lucky enough to be doing a multitude of those activities to keep me busy and driven.

What is one thing you have learned this quarter that you can apply during your time here at UCI?: I learned how fast the quarter system goes compared to the semester system I was used to at my CC. I learned that as a transfer student you can't be afraid of failure or rejection. I'm new to this environment but I won't let that stop me from turning over every stone in order to find what I have a real passion for.


Who: Chelsea Van Dueck 

Community College: Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA

Major: International Studies



Why UCI?: UCI had a good international studies program, which isn't too common in other universities.

Do you feel as though you have transitioned well into the university system?: Yeah! It's kind of what I expected: pretty easy and not too different from the community college I went to. It's a bit more academically challenging, but that's about it. I like the quarter system more than the semester system. The only thing is that the quarter system does sneak up on you. 

What is one thing you have learned this quarter that you can apply during your time here at UCI? Time management is really important in the quarter system. I've learned to prepare more for the following quarters.  


Who: Lananh Huyen

Community College: Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA

Major: Public Health Policy



Why UCI?: Growing up, I have always envisioned myself at a renowned university, so to have the opportunity to live out my dreams as well as attend a university that has my major (Public Health Policy), I knew UCI was the perfect choice for me. Also, it doesn't hurt that the majority of my cousins are UCI alums and it’s the closest university to my home—I commute. 

Do you feel as though you have transitioned well into the university system?: I am in the process of adjusting to the university system. First off, I am still unfamiliar with the campus because I typically go home after class or club meetings. As for the quarter system, I have adapted quite well to the system since I generally stay on task in terms of class readings, papers, and exams. However, I have found meeting new people and making new friends challenging. I am naturally shy so it is not second nature for me to spark up a conversation; but, I am slowly developing networks and friendships among students.

What is one thing you have learned this quarter that you can apply during your time here at UCI?: Networking—I think it’s extremely crucial when it comes to creating a unique connection between professors, TAs, and guest speakers. Being able to network with these professionals in the field will not only be beneficial for me during my time at UCI, but it will also help me in the future when I need guidance with my future endeavors.


Who: Michael Lara

Community College: Victor Valley Community College

Major: International Studies and Business Economics



Why UCI?: Decisions are tough to make at any given point. I choose UC Irvine for many reasons. The beautiful campus and location played an enormous role mainly for I felt like it was part of me, as in family. The friendly atmosphere, outgoing personals, and the air full of opportunities made me choose UCI. There is no place like home, thus it can be stated that UC Irvine is my home.

Do you feel as though you have transitioned well into the university system?: The passion of success can be found in my thirst to do well at UC Irvine. There are still minor adjustments, such as adapting to the quarter system. Consequently, at this point of the transfer, I feel like I have conquered many obstacles in a really sort time.

What is one thing you have learned this quarter that you can apply during your time here at UCI?: Having a dream is one thing, making it a reality takes time. I learn that there are certain people of great sorts and places that exist to obtain such successful reality at UC Irvine. One must look, attempt, and search to find the best fit in getting the most not only in the experience, but the education. I am thankful to be here.