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3 Easy Ways to Get Past Nerves and Get Involved as a Transfer Student

Transferring to a new college is exciting, but it can also be hard to find activities on campus. Here's some advice on getting involved as an older student.

“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” – Winston Churchill

We’ve all found ourselves at a crossroads in life—in school, at work, in our personal relationships. As a transfer student, you have recently found yourself at this college crossroads. Although it can feel easier to stay because the known seems safer than the unknown. But choosing to leave your school and transfer to a new one was the right choice. And now that you are here, you’re likely worrying about how to get involved as a new student again. Luckily, schools offer plenty of resources to help transfer students integrate into their new campuses.

1. Find out what resources are available to you

Make time to research the resources available to you at your new home away from home. During the admission process, school contacts may have shared relevant names, organizations, or upcoming events with new transfer students. If they did, go back and reach out with follow-up questions. Ask for the name of someone who can help you once you get to campus. Remember, school administrators and admission teams want you there, so they also want to help you settle in. More than that, they want you to feel welcome, no matter what time of year you’re joining or how old you are compared to the other “new” students on campus.

Ask for help and don’t feel bad about it. You’re not supposed to go through this process alone, so don’t feel like you have to—you might be surprised at how much people want to share their favorite parts of your new school. Some schools have ambassadors who work exclusively with transfer students to help them learn their way around campus and the area, meet new people, and become acclimated both personally and academically. And certain schools will even pair new transfer students with older students who were in their shoes just a few years ago. Find out if these services exist at your school and, if they do, get involved.

Related: Useful College Resources Transfer Students Need to Know About

2. Just say hello

Beyond more formal programs or welcome events, challenge yourself to just say hello to new people. Choose clubs, organizations, and sports that you like and introduce yourself to new people when you arrive. Go out and explore. Regardless of where you transferred, your surroundings will be different and new. Revel in that newness. Take advantage of your fresh eyes. Enjoy the scenery, discover a favorite reading spot, find someone who likes the same things that you do, and discover yourself and others in your new place.   

3. Don’t just go—participate

They say that showing up is half the battle. Don’t do yourself a disservice by making the effort to arrive and then not getting into it once you’re there. Everyone has been the new person in the room. Remember that bravery you had when you decided to transfer schools? Latch onto it again and speak up—get involved when you go to your first intramural soccer game, volunteer event, or women in engineering meeting. But be yourself! It’s okay to listen and observe as you adjust to new surroundings. But actively engaging and getting to know people during these events can lead to a greater sense of belonging and connection.

Engagement will help you decide which ones you want to come back. You’re not signing anything in stone—if you don’t like it, you can try something new. If you don’t feel somewhere is the right place for you to be, that’s okay. Have faith that you’ll find your niche and find people who make your new school feel like home. The trick is to keep looking until you do.

Related: Campus Activities, Clubs, and Other Fun Ways to Get Involved at College

Somewhere in the middle of getting used to your classes, becoming involved, and meeting new people, you‘ll inevitably find yourself noticing another person’s experience—and comparing yourself to them. Don’t do that. Every person’s story is unique. Take care of yourself, focus on your own progress, and take pride in how far you have come. Remember why you made this decision and stick by your reasons. Take your new experiences one day—or, in Churchill’s words, “one link”—at a time.

Help yourself adjust to your new campus with this advice on Transfer Shock: How to Combat and Minimize This Very Real Phenomenon.

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About Rosemary Cochrane

Rosemary Cochrane, an avid writer, has always been passionate about the written word and its power to transcend the content at hand and bring people together. She studied journalism and international studies during her undergraduate education at Penn State University and spent a semester studying history, art, and political science in Rome. She also combined her love of sports and writing as a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. Some of her favorite experiences during college include her time as a writing tutor for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as NCAA student-athletes, and her time as an advisor with global programs for students hoping to study abroad. Since graduation, Rosemary has worked in business as a manager and leader and in the pharmaceutical industry. She has incorporated her writing into every position she has ever held and is excited to continue working on her craft. She loves Penn State football, Philadelphia sports, spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and running.


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