Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Community College Transfer Success Story: Alex Lambis

When it comes to transferring from community college to a university, the transition can be daunting. Most every community college transfer I talk to has commented on the difficulties of the process – applying to college all over again, fitting in, making new friends, getting involved, and trying to do it all in just a few short years.

The best part, however, is that they are talking about it. So many transfer students feel like they are all alone in this process. When the truth is, transfer students almost outnumber students who stay at one institution all four years.

So this summer I’m going to be highlighting some amazing transfer success stories to start the conversation, and give you some friends and ideas to help create an incredible transfer experience for yourself, or give you advice to share with a friend.

Today’s transfer success story comes from a recent University of Central Florida graduate, and an incredible student leader.

Last year Alex (a Seminole State College alum) approached me (as the Student Life Coordinator at Seminole State College) to come back and do a transfer students success panel event.

I thought this was a great idea and immediately ordered the pizza to get students to come. Alex organized alumni from some of the colleges that surround Seminole State (e.g. Stetson, Rollins, FSU, and UCF) to come speak to current students about what it was like to transfer, and give them advice on how to make it a successful experience.

I was amazed at how many students came. But what surprised me even more, was how many students listened intently and took notes.

I could see it in the eyes of the participants – they saw that if these students could get full rides to universities and have a great transfer experience, than they could too.

My biggest turning point was when a professor looked me in the eye and told me community college could be a launching point to wherever I wanted to go in my life.

Alex created that launch-feeling for these students.

So check out Alex’s story below to get that feeling and see a great example of transfer success. He has a lot of incredible advice to share. And while transferring is never easy, getting to know others who have been there will always make it easier.

How did you make your transfer decision? What influenced you?
"I received a full ride scholarship to go to UCF, through a First Generation Mens scholarship. I also loved the fact that UCF had such a strong relationship with Seminole State (called Direct Connect). At the campus I was at, they have a UCF/Seminole State Partnership Center, making it easy to gain access to information about transferring They were extremely welcoming to transfer students."

What are you majoring in and how did you choose your major?
"I majored in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication. I chose this major because of the many different fields I could enter into with it. Communication was also a degree that helped me sharpen my public speaking skills, which I knew could help me in any field I chose to pursue."

What were your biggest obstacles in adjusting to UCF?
"The biggest challenge about transferring was rebuilding friendships. This is where being a transfer student can get awkward! You feel like a freshman because you are new to everything about the university, but at the same time you already have 2+ years of college under your belt." 

"When you transfer to a new school, it can be difficult to start new friendships, especially if you built strong ones at your last institution. The majority of people you meet are already familiar with the campus and have an established community. You have to make an effort to get out of your comfort zone, talk to them, and create that social experience you are looking for."

What helped you make friends at your transfer institution?
"CLUBS, CLUBS, CLUBS, CLUBS, CLUBS!!!!!! I joined a club/organization that suited my interests. Having that strong sense of community of people that truly cared about me helped me build friendships that I believe I will have for life."

What advice can you share that you wish someone would have shared with you before you transferred from community college to a university?
"Do not be afraid to try new things. I was scared of moving closer to campus my first year at UCF because I had always lived at home. I also allowed the fear of not having enough money get to me, as well as the pressure from my family to continue to live at home." 

"But if you're a person that loves to be at school and loves to get involved, being close to campus is a must! Having to commute 45 minutes a day from my parents' house in order to get to campus became exhausting. I found it harder to get involved and feel connected to the UCF community. Moving closer was something that I would have done immediately upon starting my first year. However, I did learn from my mistake, and moved closer to UCF my senior year."

What advice can you share with readers based on what has worked well for you in transferring?
"Consider getting an on-campus job. They are awesome and very rewarding and I highly recommend seeking them out! It is extremely convenient to get out of class and be able to walk straight to work. The jobs are competitive, but having built a strong resume with leadership experience during my two years at Seminole State helped me get the jobs."

"My first year at UCF, I worked for Transfer and Transition Services as a Peer Mentor and then I worked at Career Services as a Career Peer Advisor my second year. Both jobs, have allowed me to attend UCF special events that students normally wouldn't attend, meet college administrators and staff, and helped me feel even more connected to UCF. These experiences were a huge contribution to my overall college experience."

If you or someone you know has a transfer success story to share, check out and follow the directions to submit your story. 

Thanks Alex!

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