Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm accepted to my transfer university - now what?!

Darryl Arcales has just made a big change - she recently moved from south florida where she has just graduated from Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, with her AA in International Relations, to the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL to pursue a BA in Political Science. 

Miami Dade College is the largest and most well-known community college in the country. And the University of Florida is a "most selective" institution. 
Darryl on the left, posing with the incredible president of MDC, Dr. Padron
A huge congrats to Darryl!

She recently agreed to share her transfer story so that you can see how she made this transition, and what you should start doing now to prepare. And at the end of her story you'll find her amazing checklist to help you prepare to make the transfer once you've gotten that oh-so-exciting acceptance letter.  

How did you make your transfer decision? What influenced you?
"At first I had planned on going to a college out of state in North Carolina, but as I was bombarded with the transfer process, I started to really think about what I was doing: how will I be able to handle my new environment? Is it going to take a long amount of time to adjust? Will I have the support around me that I need to succeed? Could I afford a plane ticket every time I wanted to visit home?" 

"Thus, I decided to pursue my acceptance at The University of Florida because it would allow me to still be able to afford to go home when I needed to, and would give me the opportunity to study at one of the top programs for Political Science."

Darryl also explains that she has friends at UF already who have been helping her adjust to the new enviornment. While it is really important for you to step outside of your comfort zone when you transfer, any head start you're able to get when it comes to help, familiarity, and guidance is huge. Definitely start making those friends and building those connections early. 

What are you majoring in and how did you choose the major?
"I was undecided at first, but my involvement with Student Government and getting the Goal 2025 fellowship from the Lumina Foundation really influenced me in declaring a political science major." 

What were your biggest obstacles in adjusting to your transfer institution?
"Finding my way around school because UF is a big campus that accommodates over 50,000 students! I use the RTS buses (the transit system for Gainesville) just to get from one building to another. Another obstacle is living on my own. There is no mom or dad to clean up my messes or cook meals for me when I am hungry. I’m starting to really learn what it means to be independent and taking responsibility for myself."

What helped you the most in getting adjusted at your transfer institution? 
"Staying later on campus and just see what’s going on and getting involved in clubs and stuff. Also, I have really good friends from Miami here helping me go through this time of change."

What helped you make friends at your transfer institution?
"Being myself and being straightforward from the get go. I know that every transfer student (myself included) is nervous and scared because we’re in a new environment; we're trying to get situated and we see the people around already with their little groups." 

I definitely experienced this too. Being yourself and not being afraid to talk to people and try out clubs on the first day of class is essential. And like Darryl says, find the other transfer students! They'll be glad you did. 

What advice can you share that you wish someone would have shared with you before you transferred from community college to a university?
"Get lost on campus so you can find the interesting places to hang out or quiet places to study besides the library. I found out that the UF wellness centers provides spa massages if you’re feeling stressed from school!"

What advice can you share with readers based on what has worked well for you in transferring?
"Trusting your instinct and doing what’s right for yourself. Not letting anyone’s judgment faze your decision making process."

I would love to hear your story on the blog as well. To learn more, visit

Darryl has also become the resident go-to person for all her friends during their transfer process, and my guess is that is because she's just such a nice, helpful, and together person. If you are going through the transfer process right now or plan to relatively soon, Darryl had an incredible checklist to share (she recommends starting this as SOON as you are accepted to your transfer institution)!

Once you have received your college acceptance letters and narrowed down your choice: 

  • Ask for a credit evaluation of all the classes you took for the past two years; it takes a week for the school to process. Some schools will make you retake credits.
  • Confirm that you have filed out your FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile. Check reward statuses and tell your transfer school that they are receiving additional aid such as Bright Futures and Prepaid or other scholarships from outside sources.
  • Sign up for orientation. The earlier orientation date, the better so they can immediately register for classes.
  • Start preparing the immunization forms and insurance verification forms. President Obama signed a bill making it possible for college students to stay on their parents coverage until they are 26.
  • If you are looking for on-campus housing, sign up immediately because those spaces tend to fill up because you'll also be competing for space with freshmen. 
  • If you are looking for an apartment, start gathering your roommates and start hunting. Ask yourself if you prefer individual or joint leases, furnished or unfurnished? Whats great is that some student apartments offer all inclusive-meaning utilities are included with the rent. American Campus Communities are great because they are practically in every state. Or some schools such as UF have websites such as to help narrow down choices according to your preferences. Call ahead to some of those complexes and ask how full are they in terms of occupancy and for an appointment to tour and potentially sign a lease. Take your parents with you because some student apartments need the guarantor (person who will guarantee you will pay rent on time) to be there. Bring necessary identification.
  • Talk to your parents about finances. Me and my mom have been dividing up who will be responsible for what when I transfer. Like for example, my mom is paying for my rent and I will be paying for food, books, tuition, travel and miscellaneous expenses.
  • Look over the conditions under which you are accepted to the college. For example, I wasn't officially admitted to the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences until I passed Government and International Relations with a grade of B or higher and I was granted the AA degree.
  • Send in final transcripts (hold for degree) and do the online modules for orientation.

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