Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"I'm feeling pressured as a transfer, what do I do?" A student asks for transfer advice

I recently received the following question from a student I'll call Teresa:

How did you cope with all the changes when you transferred from community college? I've just gone through my first day of orientation and all I hear from administrators is "if you're a transfer student, you need to act right away." Talk about pressure. I've also heard that the academic rigor is going to increase dramatically. I would really love your advice. 

Teresa has just transferred to a highly selective private school, and they are correct - you do have to act right away.

Two years goes by fast, and you don't want to waste any time. However, feeling pressured is not a good way to start, so below are the tips I shared with Teresa to help you relieve the pressure and have an incredible transfer experience. 

1. Find a faculty mentor
My faculty advisor became my mentor at my transfer university, and her guidance led to a free trip to England, New Orleans, a $2,000 research grant, me being chosen as the commencement speaker, and winning the top award for graduating seniors that also included $3,000. I tell you all that only to show you what a difference a faculty member can make in your transfer life.

So during your first few weeks visit all of your professors in their office hours, as well as follow up with your faculty advisor (if you have one). Then make follow-up appointments with the professor(s) you really connect with and start to build a personal relationship by asking for advice regarding how to get engaged on campus and in your field. 

2. Go to club recruitment
Find out when all of the clubs will be showcasing what they do and go! If you've missed it, look at all the clubs online and contact the president's to get more information. Then, visit all of the meetings that interest you.

3. Be strategic with your involvement 
There are a few strategies you can take with how you spend your time during your last two years of college - what's important is that you are strategic.

What worked well for me during my last two years was choosing just one organization that really interested me (the orientation team) and getting deeply involved. I wanted to work in education so I knew learning about this process would be a great experience, as well as help me get to know more people on campus. 

I then spent the rest of my time in class or the library, and then got a paid internship in the education field that gave me the opportunity to tutor, pay for gas and rent, and fulfill the internship requirement for my major. 

During your last two years, it can be really smart to think about your career and how your involvement can help you build relevant experience to get that first job out of college

4. Visit your campus career center
Visit the career center on your campus right away and start taking advantage of every service they offer. Find out when they have career fairs, how to get help with your resume, what internship and job databases they use, and if they offer any alumni professional mentorship programs. 

5. Have fun
Two years does go by fast. And while it's a great feeling to finish, I miss college all the time. I miss the satisfaction of getting a good grade, the ability to catch a quick coffee with a friend (I just had to schedule a breakfast with a friend four weeks in advance because we're so busy!), and time spent on nothing but learning. 

And don't worry about the advanced academic rigor. If you've chosen a major you are interested in and good at, then you won't notice a change in your academic requirements (e.g. for me writing a 20 page paper in my major was so much more fun than studying for biology). You will have to work hard, but if you've gotten yourself from community college to a four-year university, you already know how to do that. 

I received this follow up from Teresa :)

This is such a tough transition for me. But after my first day of class today, it seems a lot of it was in my head. My professor was actually really cool and it seems that the class will be fairly easy to pass (as long as I read and show up!). 

Good point on getting with a faculty advisor – I have one appointed to me and met with her once. I have a follow up with her in March. In the meantime, I’ll definitely make use of those office hours! Thanks for the support. It really goes along away!

Feel free to send me your questions anytime at

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