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Survival Guide: Being a College Transfer Student

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Starting college in January can be quite different than beginning in the fall. If you’re transferring from one college to another, rather than enrolling in classes for the first time, things can seem weird simply because they’re “different” than what you were accustomed to.

Starting classes as a transfer student will seem different than it did the first time around. Being the “new kid on the block” can be a bit challenging because friendships and social already circles exist. Rather than spend time alone because you don’t want to feel like you’re intruding, make an effort to get involved!

Make Small Talk Before Class

A lot of people wind up making lifelong friends during college, but always remember that those friends were complete strangers before college! You won’t make friends if you don’t interact with people. Get to your classes a few minutes early and chat with the people who are sitting near you. Most people love to talk about themselves; asking someone a question or two often strikes up a lengthy conversation.

Introduce Yourself to Your Professors

It’s also a good idea to introduce yourself to your professors. Drop by during their scheduled office hours or simply catch them after class to say hello and explain that you are a new student from XYZ College. He or she may have some helpful advice or inside information that you didn’t learn during orientation.

Participate in Orientation Activities

Yes, orientation! Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for freshmen. Even if it’s not required, attend orientation activities to learn more about your new school. Orientation also gives you the chance to meet other transfer students that are in the same boat you are.

Join a Club on Campus

Even the smallest college campuses are home to a plethora of clubs and organizations, and some large universities even boast hundreds of different student groups. You’ll often see flyers posted on bulletin boards or tables set up so current members can provide information to potential members. Your school’s website and student union can also be good sources of information. Some clubs are academic and others are social, but they all provide a chance to meet and interact with new people. If you can’t find an existing club that piques your interest, find out the protocol for organizing a new one!

Get a Job on Campus

If you need to get a part-time job while you’re in school, look for a position on campus. Student employment gigs don’t pay a fortune, but their location is ideal—you won’t have far to go, which means you could potentially work short two- or three-hour shifts in between classes. You will also be able to meet other students, as well as college staff members. Adjusting to a new school may be somewhat easier for transfer students that live in the dorms, but even commuter students can benefit from working on campus.

Accept Invitations

If any of your classmates, co-workers, or people in a club that you joined ask you to grab dinner or meet at the library for a study session, consider their offer before instantly turning it down—a mistake that many people make because they’re afraid of feeling like a third wheel. If someone invites you to go somewhere or do something, they’re interested in spending time with you. Take them up on their offer and start to develop a social life!

Thinking of Transferring Colleges?

Students decide to transfer for a variety of reasons. If you’re a community college student who will be wrapping up your two-year degree, someone who is starting to have second thoughts about their current school, or you know that you will be moving out of the area and need to find another school, you may be planning to transfer colleges.

First and foremost, do your homework! Speaking with an admissions counselor that works with transfer students can help ensure that all of your questions are answered:

  • Does an associate’s degree guarantee admission to a four-year university?
  • What is the application process for transfer students?
  • Will the college credits that you’ve already earned transfer to the new school?

Starting a new semester can always be a stressful yet exhilarating experience, and transfer students face different challenges than “native” students. If you have questions or feel uncertain about something, speak with a professor, your advisor, or even a campus counselor. You decided to attend that college for a reason—don’t let yourself feel out of place!

Read More:

7 Common Reasons that Students Transfer Colleges

What You Need to Know to Be a Successful Transfer Student

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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