Lessons Learned after my First Year as a Transfer Student

A lot of things seem different over time—as we grow older, our perspective changes as we understand more about ourselves and what is happening around us. Below are a few situations where my perspective has changed from my first year as a transfer student, to a senior ready to graduate. Hopefully, if you’re a first year transfer student, you can take something away from these observations!

Classes

As a first-year transfer, I had to retake a couple Economics classes because my credits didn’t transfer over. At the time, I was annoyed, but in hindsight, the topics we covered at my new school were somewhat different from what was covered at my previous school. I still learned a lot and thought it was enjoyable, and it wasn’t too repetitive—whenever it was, I treated it like a review.

I also took it easy the first semester I transferred in terms of class load, and then ramped it up the following semesters. I don’t regret this at all—it gave me time to get used to my new campus, and once I was in the groove I worked hard to take 18 units every semester. In my last semester, I’ll only be taking 16 units, so I think this strategy is totally worth it.

I still haven’t had an opportunity to take any fun classes, so if you’re a first-year transfer and have some flexibility, I’d definitely recommend it. I live vicariously through my friends’ experiences in their piano class or creativity electives or ballroom dancing class.

Meeting people and fitting in

I was definitely worried about meeting people and fitting in at my new campus. The culture was different and it took me a semester to get used to it. As a senior now, I don’t care as much about fitting in somewhere, than about surrounding myself with those who I enjoy being around. I would have told first-year transfer me to stop worrying about meeting people so quickly. It’s a process, and one that takes time.

Balancing responsibilities

I’ve always been fairly good at making a schedule, but I found what worked best for me in terms of making a schedule and sticking to it. I started using Google Calendar to plan out my day, and I still use it everyday for everything.

As a first-year transfer, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the responsibilities we suddenly have to take on. Just know that if you have a schedule and are organized, you will be able to balance it! You’ll know when you’ve taken on too much, especially when you feel like you can no longer do something to do the best of your ability. In this case, don’t be afraid to say no.

Joining clubs

When you first come to campus, there are so many opportunities to join clubs and try new things. I tried so many things my first year as a transfer—I joined a consulting team, a networking club, a mentoring program, a professional honors organization, and a community service club. Trying all these things helped me meet new people, but a trade-off was I had less time to develop myself in each of these clubs.

The next semester some of the clubs wrapped up and I focused on a few. By doing so, I was able to develop my relationships with so many people and even take on leadership positions in some of them. I wholeheartedly recommend clubs and organizations for everyone, and to try them out until you find one that sticks.

Getting a job

Something we’re all worried about is finding a job after graduating. Sometimes it seems like we’re at a disadvantage, especially since we don’t have the traditional four years on campus. Remember, you’re here for a reason—you are just as qualified as the person next to you.

The advice

My one piece of advice is to be aggressive—seek out mentors; learn how to network from professional organizations, your school’s Career Center, and friends; and talk to companies that you’re interested in early on. If you start early on your elevator pitch and resume, you’ll have time to fine-tune it during your time on campus.

If you’re graduating, let us know how your perspective has changed over the years! If you’re a first-year transfer, I hoped these helped lessen your worries and inspired you to shape your journey over the next two or three years you have left!

– Michelle L.