What I wish I knew before I transferred

Photo provided by the author

Nearly every college student dreads the same question at family gatherings: “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?” My family has heard the same “no” from me every year, so they hounded me with another question instead: “Have you figured out what school you’re going to transfer to yet?” is went on for months, and it wasn’t just my family asking; my friends, my friends’ parents, my co-workers and even my boss wouldn’t stop asking me. Didn’t anyone understand that transferring from one college to another is a huge process?

I had to consider a few schools, see how much money they’d o er me, take road trips, visit them all and make a final decision. at was a lot of to-do’s for a young adult taking 19 credit hours of college classes and working a part-time job. I was anxiously awaiting an acceptance letter from Ohio University and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Once the letter came in the mail, I immediately framed it and couldn’t wait until the day I could visit and see the campus for myself.

At one point, I freaked out about deciding on a school because I liked every other campus I’d seen. en I voyaged to Athens with my parents.

“This is it,” I told my mom when I first stepped foot onto OU’s stunning campus. Even in the rain it was beautiful, and it looked as if it came straight out of a movie. e contrast of the bricks with the green trees and the fact that it was an easy-to-navigate college town won me over. The few other colleges I’d considered didn’t even compare. I finally knew where I was about to transfer. I had that gut feeling and it was relieving.

By the time I arrived at OU as an enrolled student, I had an Associate’s Degree from Lakeland Community College under my belt. I was ahead of the game since I had a full year of post- secondary education in high school. However, I knew being a transfer student wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. ere was a lot I had to learn.

JOIN A TRANSFER LEARNING COMMUNITY

During that first visit to Athens, I was encouraged to join a learning community.

“Transfer Learning Communities help transfer students expe- dite social and academic connections with their peers, faculty and staff,” says Learning Community Instructor David Lawrence.

These programs are offered for both freshmen and transfer students. I’m not sure what I would have done without my learning community because I learned a lot about the history of OU, where my resources were and how to appreciate the beautiful place I’m lucky to call home. I was with 20 other people who were going through the same thing as me, so I had a great support system while I tried to get into the swing of things.

“I liked seeing how everyone interacted together and were willing to help each other,” says Margaux Aschinger, a learning community student leader who helped Lawrence teach my class and plan activities. “It was also nice to see them succeed with the transfer into OU.”

I WILL NEED TO RE-ADJUST

Coming from a small community college, transferring to a four- year school seemed like a huge change to me. OU may seem cozy and small to those who transfer from larger schools, but for me, it was a little overwhelming in size at first.

Yet, OU still had the small-town feel of home that I was used to. I figured a lot of transfer students were coming from other four-year schools, meaning they already knew how college life was. I felt like I was coming in as a freshman. Multiple thoughts went through my mind: How do I know if it’s the right school? Will I feel at home here? How will I make friends?

I’M NOT NEW TO COLLEGE

I felt like my family expected a lot from me coming to OU. “You spent two years in college, you’ll be ne and should know better not to go out and party all the time,” they said. Yeah, I had two years of college while working a nearly full-time job and living at home under my parents’ rules. But at least I knew the basics of college, such as how to prepare for exams. I think going to a community college was a good middle ground for the transition I had to make.

I WON’T HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE AS FRESHMEN DO

I was told that transfer students at OU have a different experience than any other group of students on campus.

“Transfer students may be new to Ohio University, but they’re not new to higher education,” Lawrence says. “For that reason, they need to be treated as experienced students who’ve had experiences elsewhere, but are just new to OU.”

There are quite a few things transfer students go through that the rest do not. I really began to miss my friends at my old school, and I had to learn my way around a new campus. I knew that I wouldn’t be here as long as the people who came here as freshmen, and I felt pressure to make sure I experienced as much as I could in a short amount of time.

BE PREPARED FOR TRANSFER SHOCK

At transfer orientation, I was warned about transfer shock. Transfer shock is when students who transfer from one college to another become overwhelmed and experience a dip in their grade point averages.

“Sometimes it happens right after they arrive; for others, it can happen after they’ve been here for a few weeks,” Lawrence says.

I realized what transfer shock was once it electrocuted me about halfway through my rst semester. I rarely spent any time at the library. Instead, silly, clueless, transfer me decided to spend my free time making friends and having fun. I struggled balancing schoolwork and a social life. My priorities were all out of whack. I procrastinated and crammed for tests, thinking they weren’t important and that I could crack down and do better on the next one. My community college classes were much easier and less was expected of me. I ended my first semester with a not-so-hot GPA. is was so unlike me and I was disappointed in myself. I never got homesick, but I spent a lot of my time thinking I would be happier somewhere else.

I thought I made too quick of a decision to come to OU because I got into Scripps, and I’d be crazy to pass that up. I’ll never not wish I was at Syracuse — my dream school — but I can go on about how much I love OU and why it’s the best choice I’ve ever made. I got out of my dorm and studied in a variety of places around campus, mostly at Donkey Co ee, which quickly became my second home in Athens. And guess what? I’m doing well in all of my classes now.

GET INVOLVED

Aside from classes, so many people told me to get involved. I was stressed because there were so many clubs to choose from. I went out on a limb and joined the waterskiing team. Additionally, I joined Backdrop and earned an executive position as event director.

OU truly has so many opportunities. With over 500 student organizations, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to go out of my comfort zone and get involved. Being at a new institution gave me the perfect opportunity to be who I wanted to be.

“There are so many ways to make this place feel like home. If you can get insulated with good friends and activities, the bumps of the transition seem a lot less jarring,” Lawrence says.

I’M NOT ALONE IN THIS

I’ve realized that a majority of my good friends are also transfer students. I’m grateful that I had a separate orientation, because that was my rst opportunity to make friends with other transfers. By joining a learning community, my entire oor was full of transfer students, which enabled me to make friends.

“For starters, most transfer students end up living in the resi- dence halls, whether they’re part of a Learning Community or not,” Lawrence says. “ e in-hall sta , either RAs or Resident Coordinators/Directors, know a lot of ways to get connected with the university in co-curricular ways.” Lawrence also advises to get in touch with faculty advisors. “If [students] can get in touch with faculty early, they can set an academic trajectory that will streamline their experience here,” he says.

After experiencing what transferring is like, I know that I’m not alone in the process, and the uneasy feelings that I’ve had are normal and nothing to be ashamed of — I want students who have recently transferred to know this. Looking back on my rst year at Ohio University, I can con dently say that I adjusted and now walk on sunshine, except more literally, bricks.  

I heard the same “no” from me every year, so they hounded me with another question instead: “Have you figured out what school you’re going to transfer to yet?” is went on for months, and it wasn’t just my family asking; my friends, my friends’ parents, my co-workers and even my boss wouldn’t stop asking me. Didn’t anyone understand that transferring from one college to another is a huge process?

I had to consider a few schools, see how much money they’d o er me, take road trips, visit them all and make a nal decision. at was a lot of to-do’s for a young adult taking 19 credit hours of college classes and working a part-time job. I was anxiously awaiting an acceptance letter from Ohio University and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Once the letter came in the mail, I immediately framed it and couldn’t wait until the day I could visit and see the campus for myself.

At one point, I freaked out about deciding on a school because I liked every other campus I’d seen. en I voyaged to Athens with my parents.

“This is it,” I told my mom when I first stepped foot onto OU’s stunning campus. Even in the rain it was beautiful, and it looked as if it came straight out of a movie. e contrast of the bricks with the green trees and the fact that it was an easy- to-navigate college town won me over. e few other colleges I’d considered didn’t even compare. I nally knew where I was about to transfer. I had that gut feeling and it was relieving.

By the time I arrived at OU as an enrolled student, I had an Associate’s Degree from Lakeland Community College under my belt. I was ahead of the game since I had a full year of post- secondary education in high school. However, I knew being a transfer student wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. ere was a lot I had to learn.

JOIN A TRANSFER LEARNING COMMUNITY

During that first visit to Athens, I was encouraged to join a learning community.

“Transfer Learning Communities help transfer students expe- dite social and academic connections with their peers, faculty and staff,” says Learning Community Instructor David Lawrence.

These programs are offered for both freshmen and transfer students. I’m not sure what I would have done without my learning community because I learned a lot about the history of OU, where my resources were and how to appreciate the beautiful place I’m lucky to call home. I was with 20 other people who were going through the same thing as me, so I had a great support system while I tried to get into the swing of things.

“I liked seeing how everyone interacted together and were willing to help each other,” says Margaux Aschinger, a learning community student leader who helped Lawrence teach my class and plan activities. “It was also nice to see them succeed with the transfer into OU.”

I WILL NEED TO RE-ADJUST

Coming from a small community college, transferring to a four- year school seemed like a huge change to me. OU may seem cozy and small to those who transfer from larger schools, but for me, it was a little overwhelming in size at first.

Yet, OU still had the small-town feel of home that I was used to. I figured a lot of transfer students were coming from other four-year schools, meaning they already knew how college life was. I felt like I was coming in as a freshman. Multiple thoughts went through my mind: How do I know if it’s the right school? Will I feel at home here? How will I make friends?

I’M NOT NEW TO COLLEGE

I felt like my family expected a lot from me coming to OU. “You spent two years in college, you’ll be ne and should know better not to go out and party all the time,” they said. Yeah, I had two years of college while working a nearly full-time job and living at home under my parents’ rules. But at least I knew the basics of college, such as how to prepare for exams. I think going to a community college was a good middle ground for the transition I had to make.

I WON’T HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE AS FRESHMEN DO

I was told that transfer students at OU have a different experience than any other group of students on campus.

“Transfer students may be new to Ohio University, but they’re not new to higher education,” Lawrence says. “For that reason, they need to be treated as experienced students who’ve had experiences elsewhere, but are just new to OU.”

There are quite a few things transfer students go through that the rest do not. I really began to miss my friends at my old school, and I had to learn my way around a new campus. I knew that I wouldn’t be here as long as the people who came here as freshmen, and I felt pressure to make sure I experienced as much as I could in a short amount of time.

BE PREPARED FOR TRANSFER SHOCK

At transfer orientation, I was warned about transfer shock. Transfer shock is when students who transfer from one college to another become overwhelmed and experience a dip in their grade point averages.

“Sometimes it happens right after they arrive; for others, it can happen after they’ve been here for a few weeks,” Lawrence says.

I realized what transfer shock was once it electrocuted me about halfway through my rst semester. I rarely spent any time at the library. Instead, silly, clueless, transfer me decided to spend my free time making friends and having fun. I struggled balancing schoolwork and a social life. My priorities were all out of whack. I procrastinated and crammed for tests, thinking they weren’t important and that I could crack down and do better on the next one. My community college classes were much easier and less was expected of me. I ended my first semester with a not-so-hot GPA. is was so unlike me and I was disappointed in myself. I never got homesick, but I spent a lot of my time thinking I would be happier somewhere else.

I thought I made too quick of a decision to come to OU because I got into Scripps, and I’d be crazy to pass that up. I’ll never not wish I was at Syracuse — my dream school — but I can go on about how much I love OU and why it’s the best choice I’ve ever made. I got out of my dorm and studied in a variety of places around campus, mostly at Donkey Coffee, which quickly became my second home in Athens. And guess what? I’m doing well in all of my classes now.
GET INVOLVED
Aside from classes, so many people told me to get involved. I was stressed because there were so many clubs to choose from. I went out on a limb and joined the waterskiing team. Additionally, I joined
Backdrop and earned an executive position
as event director. OU truly has so many opportunities. With over 500 student organizations, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to go out of my comfort zone and get involved. Being at a new institution gave me the perfect opportunity to be who I wanted to be.
“There are so many ways to make this place feel like home. If you can get insulated with good friends and activities, the bumps of the transition seem a lot less jarring,” Lawrence says.
I’M NOT ALONE IN THIS
I’ve realized that a majority of my good friends are also transfer students. I’m grateful that I had a separate orientation, because that was my first opportunity to make friends with other transfers. By joining a learning community, my entire floor was full of transfer students, which enabled me to make friends.
“For starters, most transfer students end up living in the residence halls, whether they’re part of a Learning Community or not,” Lawrence says. “The in-hall staff, either RAs or Resident
Coordinators/Directors, know a lot of ways to get connected with the university in co-curricular ways.” Lawrence also advises to get in touch with faculty advisors. “If [students] can get in touch with faculty early, they can set an academic trajectory that will streamline their experience here,” he says.
After experiencing what transferring is like, I know that I’m not alone in the process, and the uneasy feelings that I’ve had are normal and nothing to be ashamed of — I want students who have recently transferred to know this. Looking back on my first year at Ohio University, I can confidently say that I adjusted and now walk on sunshine, except more literally, bricks
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