My First Year as a Transfer Student

I’m trying to do a better job at writing more this summer. Lets begin!

Todays post will feature some much needed explanation regarding the experience I’ve had my first year as a transfer student. For those readers who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about: the “transfer student” I am referring to in this post is a student in the USA who previously attended a small, community college for about 2+ years and then transferred to a larger university, beginning school as a third year (aka: junior). Personally, after high school, I went to said community college and after 2 years, got accepted to a larger university where I am currently studying for a B.A. in Political Science.

When I was in community college, I was so focused on making sure that I got out within 2 years that my entire time their revolved around academics. Since community college’s are small institutions, there are not that many clubs or activities to help one assimilate as a member of their student body. A typical day for me consisted of going to class in the morning and coming back home a little after noon or going straight to work. This is a usual lifestyle in the eyes of a community college student. The goal was to transfer within 2 years and graduate with a bachelors degree within 4 years while saving my family money on rising tuition and loans. However, after getting accepted to the larger university that I am currently attending, I began to form very high expectations about the booming social life I would have at a bigger uni. I thought that my housemates and I would be bff’s, I would join lots of clubs, and make many many friends. Sadly, this was not the case.

To begin, I was fortunate enough to live in an apartment where everyone had their own bedroom and bathroom. The only communal space the four of us shared was the kitchen and living area. However, this meant that my housemates usually spent the greater part of the day inside their private spaces with their doors closed. As an older student, you tend to want some personal space, but as someone who wanted to make friends with my housemates, I felt really isolated when everyone stayed in their rooms all the time. Basically, having my own room backfired on me because it made me feel more distant from others. To top it off, many of my housemates and fellow transfer friends also went home for the weekends. This was usually due to homesickness or maybe because they already had a circle of friends in their hometowns. These exterior friendships meant that transfer students typically didn’t spend a lot of time making new friends on campus because they already had old friends they could rely on back at home. This was not a similar luxury that I encountered since I was never homesick and also because all my friends from home were away in their own respected colleges. Joining clubs helps but it takes lots of time and energy to find the clubs that fit your needs. Time, that as a junior, you may not always have.

Another issue that I came across was the overwhelming sensation that arose from the abundance of resources available at my fingertips. A freshman student who comes straight from high school has more time to build a network of contacts and explore their new surroundings. As a transfer student, you may only have two years to do this! Essentially, you hit the ground running. As if making friends was tough, now you have to get to know your campus in lightning speed. I wasn’t aware of all the resources available to me or the multitude of internships or jobs I could apply for until it was too late. I definitely felt at a disadvantage in comparison to students who had been at my uni as freshmen because I was unfamiliar with my campus and unaware of all the things I had the possibility of doing until the deadline had passed. Even on the last week of school, I was learning about on-campus internships that fit my interests which I could have totally applied for if I had learned about them sooner. Being resourceful is a valuable skill to have, but sometimes it takes time and mistakes to learn it!

Lastly, I always felt like I was fighting between having a social life or having a good GPA score. When you are a transfer, your GPA starts with 0.00. You only have two years to get good grades and less time to redeem yourself if your grades ever start falling. As a result, I was very focused on making sure my GPA was high, but at the cost of my social life. Yes, its possible to balance having a social life with obtaining good grades, but no one said it would be easy. All my classes required heavy loads of reading material. There were days where I would have to read 100 pages worth of subject matter in less than two days! Managing that while making new friends was very tough. Essentially I felt defeated and torn. I really wanted to make life-long friendships but with so much studying from all upper-division classes, this felt nearly impossible. Some of the closest friends I’ve made on campus were from study groups, which is always a possibility. The only downside to this is that once you are all done sharing the same class, you tend to go separate ways, leaving the friendship hollow.

These were the three main issues I came across as a transfer student. They are my own personal experiences and I’m sure not everyone can relate or agree with them. I’m simply sharing them because if there is anything I’ve learned from this experience it’s that isolation and loneliness are a both horrible feelings that can be prevented. Maybe someone in the same predicament as me can relate and thus feel less alone. I’ve had some great moments as well my first year but overall, my expectations have really sunk. After all this reflection, I’m beginning to think that maybe having such high expectations wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe next year, I’ll try not to expect too much in hopes of being surprised and feeling pleasantly happy about the outcome. One thing is for sure: next year is going to be riddled with anxiety and panic because I will be a senior! The anticipation and fear of my fast-approaching “adulthood” years are slowly catching up to me and I am fucking scared as shit!!! A post about all that will probably make its debut same time next year, so stay tuned for the hysteria. 🙂

– J


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