Transfer students face a unique situation in that their college experience is broken into two parts: they have to apply to college twice, make new friends twice, and get used to new academic challenges twice. Some students find this situation incredibly beneficial; they can focus on all of their general education classes while attending a community college, which allows them more flexibility to work and save money. Others may find the transition to a four-year university extra challenging. And others still will have started at a four-year university and discover, for one reason or another, that they need to make a change. Whatever a student’s situation is, there are a few things they should do this summer to make sure their transfer experience is a positive one.
1. Visit campus
Many students decide to transfer to a local four-year university for reasons of convenience, and most community college students will transfer to an in-state university, making it relatively easy to visit their new campus. It's essential for students to spend a fair amount of time on their new campus so they feel comfortable and at home by the time they arrive as a junior. Students who took the traditional route will have already been on campus for two years and will know their way around. Many transfer students feel isolated because they are brand-new even though they're at an advanced level, but this feeling can be combated through regular visits and social contact before the first day of classes. And while you're visiting, if you get the chance, ask a lot of questions!
Related: Transfer Student Survival Guide
2. Meet with an academic counselor
The majority of universities will require transfer students to meet in person with an academic counselor before the first day of school in the fall. But, if not, students should still make an appointment ASAP. This is the one chance for a transfer student to know what's going to happen in their academic life before they get thrown into a new situation. Students who figure out what's going on early have a better chance of graduating on time, picking the right classes, adjusting to the unexpected, and making changes where necessary.
3. Get in touch with other transfer students
These days it's relatively easy to get in touch with other transfer students on social media or other digital platforms. It's beneficial for a few transfer students to get together, in person or online, and discuss their experiences. Transferring can be hard, and it's nice to talk to people who understand what you're going through. Every transfer student is in the same boat, even if they're not going to be in the same major. Being around other people who truly understand what a transfer student deals with will make the transition a lot easier and less stressful.
4. Create a graduation strategy
Some transfer students have an advantage in that they've already navigated a two-year college and successfully transferred to a four-year university. This takes a lot of planning and time management. Juniors should continue to make graduation a priority by having a strategy before they even pick their classes. There are all sorts of loopholes to graduate sooner and a whole lot of bumps in the road that can delay graduation; choosing the right courses could mean the difference between graduating on time or a year late.
5. Plan to join at least one club or organization
Lots of students feel like they don't have time to join a student club, or they want just to get settled in with their academic tasks before they commit to anything else. However, transfer students face a unique social situation in that they’re a new student in their third year. Incoming transfers can see what student clubs and extracurricular activities are offered on the university website, and they should plan to attend their campus’s activities fair to learn more about ways to get involved at their new school. They don't have to make a two-year commitment to any particular organization, but belonging to at least one social club can help them adjust to their new campus and enjoy a well-rounded college experience.
While, of course, you should be enjoying your summer, there is a lot to be done before you head off to your new college next year. Make sure you balance your summer adventures well with productivity, so you set yourself up for success going into this next academic year in a new educational environment.
Find more tips on acclimating to your new campus in our Transfer Students section.