In Praise of an Extra SemesterConnie Lissner
Transferring to a different college or university this fall means a big adjustment for your student. Even though they’re familiar with college life in general, they're entering a new environment as a new student, much as they did freshman year.
The challenge is the same whether your student is transferring from a community college or from one four-year program to another. They may feel unsettled at first, and maybe even at a disadvantage, as they work to make new friends and get used to a new campus, social scene, roommates, professors and classes.
There are four steps your transfer student can take this summer to ensure a smooth transition and get through the awkward phase more quickly.
Colleges are beginning to recognize that transfer students have specific needs. Many provide orientation or information sessions tailored just for transfer students. Encourage your student to attend. Not only will they learn about the college’s expectations and resources and have a chance to ask questions, but they can start getting to know their fellow transfer students.
There may also be ways for transfer students to connect on social media, and organizations on campus devoted to transfer student engagement. Be sure your student looks into these possibilities. Being around other people who are having the same experience will make the transition less stressful and more fun.
Participating in campus activities is the best way to meet other students and assimilate into the student population. Over the summer, your student can research opportunities related to their interests and contact clubs, teams and organizations to get information about membership. This will help them make some initial connections before moving to campus.
Some colleges have advisors who deal specifically with transfer students. If your student’s new school doesn’t, they should speak with an academic advisor. Regardless of who they talk to, it’s important to discuss their previous credits. The advisor will help them understand how transfer credits work and evaluate their transcript to make sure there are no lost credits. In addition, the advisor will explain graduation requirements, review their academic goals, and help them register for fall semester classes.
Like all students, transfer students are responsible for keeping track of their credits as well as the requirements for their major and for graduation. Your student may need to add a summer or winter break course to catch up, or even an extra semester.
There are substantial scholarships available exclusively to transfer students who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree. U.S. News Education lists a few here. They can also do a search on Google or any scholarship website for “scholarships for transfer students.”
Taking time over the summer to talk about what lies ahead will help your transfer student prepare and get excited for the next phase of their college experience!