If you're starting the new academic year as a transfer student, you're not alone. Transfer students make up a large proportion of the college student population, and the number is growing. Despite this fact, there is little information out there specifically for transfer students, especially compared to the abundance of resources for freshmen.
As someone who transferred from one four-year university to another, I can say that attending college as a transfer student is an experience sprinkled with challenges that are quite different and separate from the experiences of students that stay at one school for the entire four years. Being a transfer student can be an odd position to be in - you're a new student, yet you're not a freshman.
One of biggest challenges for transfer students is adjusting to a new college environment after having spent a year or two on another campus. Many students form their friendships during their freshman year, a year that transfer students miss out on when they go to a new school.
However, transfer students are certainly not doomed. After interviewing many transfer students, I have come up with some tips on how to make the social transition smoother:
You should take up opportunities to socialize with people you might be interested in. If someone asks you to come along for dinner in the dining hall, but you've already eaten, say YES and go anyway. Just have some tea and chat with people. Dinner conversations can be worthwhile and may lead to bonding.
Seek Transfer Student Organizations
Many colleges have organizations run by and for transfer students. The leaders of these groups have been in your shoes and can help you feel more comfortable at your new school. For example, the Brown Organization of Transfer Students at Brown University plans activities led by veteran transfer students to help newbies make both the social and academic adjustment.
Get an On Campus Job
One transfer student, who transferred from a large university to a small liberal arts college, says that she enjoys working at her school library because it has given her a chance to get to know other students. Working customer-service type jobs on campus is a great deal - you get cash for textbooks and such AND you interact with fellow students, not to mention that any job you take will teach you a lot about time management and boost your resume.
Join Clubs and Organizations
Over and over again, transfers that I've interviewed have suggested that new transfer students join student clubs and organizations. These groups come with built-in social networks, and best of all, you can make new friends while pursuing your interests. If you think a certain club is missing on campus, start the club. You'll meet a lot of other students in recruiting for and building up your new group. Mingling and working with members of student groups is a sure fire way to get you settled in.
You won’t have "New Transfer Student" stamped onto your forehead, so you'll have to take the initiative and be proactive. After the first term or so, your go-getter attitude will pay off and you'll start to feel at home.