What the Students of ‘22 and ‘23 Have to Say About Transferring to USC During the Pandemic

Last November, thousands of hopeful students around the world triumphantly completed college applications following years of hard work and dedication. In and out of the classroom, these students worked for one goal and one goal only -- to get into the University of Southern California.

However, USC, like most universities across the country, recently announced that the campus would only hold 10-20% of its courses in person, with the other 80% to be accessed remotely. This has left newly admitted students irrevocably devastated. The visions of sitting in discussion groups among peers, tailgating at the Coliseum, vibing with the marching band, studying at Doheny Library (or Leavey, if that’s more your thing), and participating in club rush are all practically obsolete for the upcoming semester. Transfer students do not get to walk past the beautiful brick buildings on campus and feel the pride and accomplishment of knowing that we made it -- rather, we must forsake these encounters. While the monotonous and prolonged isolation is for the greater good of the community, we are losing out on these rites of passage that would undoubtedly shape our college experience. Although remote learning is a loss for the entire student population at USC, this situation is particularly hard on transfer students, who have already missed out on 1-2 years on campus. 

However, the transfer community is composed of a group of resilient people -- after all, isn’t that why we got into USC in the first place? In an effort to make the most of the current situation, the class of ‘22 and ‘23 have proved the next generation of transfer students to be positive and strong. 

Craving the authentic college experience, the majority of transfer students were planning on moving to or near USC. Most transfer students are coming from a community college, where they were forced to commute while watching their high school friends that went straight into a four-year university bond with their new roommates and participate in college rites of passage like homecoming. This was something that us transfers held on to, promising ourselves that one day, we would also live the “college experience.” This prospect of our stillborn goals has been something that many new students are finding hard to deal with. “Although commuting to community college had its benefits, I was really looking forward to the days I could finally experience dorm life for myself,” said one transfer student when asked about moving to USC. Another transfer student remarked, “I was so eager to leave my small hometown and experience life in a different way.” It is devastating to be so close to campus life, yet have it taken away a month and a half before entering the semester. 

Some transfer students are proceeding with their move to campus, deciding not to let remote learning stop them from achieving new experiences. They have determined that it would be best to study in a college environment, where they can be independent and in the same time zone as their classes. However, other students will not live on campus, finding it not reasonable financially. Some students physically cannot move to USC, due to COVID-19 restrictions or being considered high risk. Finding the silver lining, some transfer students have remarked that “I’m grateful for my admission and that at the end of this, I will have a USC degree” and “The pandemic is definitely delaying that [traditional] experience, but I know with time it will be attained.” Despite the exasperating loss of dorm-life form for most transfer students, they continue to remain positive.

There are many features that USC and Los Angeles life would have potentially offered to transfer students, but one of the most substantial aspects that the transfer community is grieving is the prospect of meeting a diverse range of people. At community college, most of your classmates are from or around your hometown and you would inevitably run into friends (or nemeses) from high school. At USC, there are students from around the world, stemming from so many different backgrounds and ethnicities -- it becomes impossible not to network and have new experiences. Not only that, but we will also miss out on the operations that make USC truly renowned. One student remarked, “I was really looking forward to my STEM labs, because USC has such amazing equipment that my community college didn’t have.” There are a lot of facilities and events that most transfers could only dream of at their community college-- they didn’t start the college experience with a school that has seven libraries and extensive research centers. Another student expressed, “I’m sad that I won’t be able to experience my first tailgate and other SC traditions until next fall (hopefully). In addition, I will be missing the alumni networking events.” Transfers have waited 1-2 years for so many of these opportunities that USC presents, and it is heart-wrenching to think we have even less time to spend on these world-class events.

The transfer community is brilliantly buoyant. To compensate for the lack of social activities we will have this fall, most transfers have already begun networking by creating group chats and other online forums. While the topics of these chats vary from trojan fantasy football to transfer requirements to casual daily chats, the ultimate consensus is that these discussions help us connect and relate to each other. Multiple transfers started to get involved immediately following their admission, one of which said, “I am a part of at least five USC group chats and we talk daily, which makes the whole transfer process so much easier to handle.” Some students have begun networking with other students from their major to build relationships for eventual in-person classes, and others have found roommates and started life-long friendships. Another transfer stated, “I think right now is a time for everyone to have each other’s back and support through this transition.” Overall, many students have found that it can be comforting that knowing amidst this distress, there are others in the exact same boat as them.

To say that the transfer community feels upset is an understatement -- we feel as if we are being robbed of our transfer experience. Signature new student events such as orientation, welcome concerts, homecoming game, and receiving admission packages will be something transfers completely miss out on, though they are essential to the experience. However, with patience and a positive mindset, we will get through this semester and hopefully be back by springtime. There is always a silver lining, and after all, we will still be getting an education from the University of Southern California.

So with that, us transfers leave you with a parting message -- wear your mask so that this pandemic can dissipate and we can go to campus!