How to Adjust to Going to College As a Transfer Student

According to Inside Higher Ed, more than a third of students transfer to colleges at some point in the hopes of finding greener pastures. And while it makes sense academically or financially for a lot of people, it can also be a very lonely experience. You became friends during the first year (or semester) and now you have to start over.

But there are some simple ways to make this process easier for yourself. If you’re moving from one school to another with a four-year, or moving from a two-year to a four-year school, here’s how to smooth the transition:

Go to orientation

You might think you have everyone in college, but attending an orientation at your new school will help you not only learn about your school but also meet new people in the same boat as you. And it’s never a bad idea to spend more time on campus finding out where things are (dorms, cafes, psychologist’s office) before you start your semester. Some familiarity will help you get up to speed faster.

Take advantage of your network

Unless you’re transferring to an international institution or a tiny art college somewhere in the middle of the forest, chances are you know someone at your new school. This could be an old school friend, someone from your youth group, or the niece of one of your grandmother’s hairdressers. Whoever it is, take advantage of even these fragile bonds – you may not be best friends with that person, but at least they can show you the ropes or introduce you to people you will get along with.

Find your people

One of the biggest things working against you is that you didn’t live in a dorm in your freshman year, where a lot of people hang out with one or two good friends. In fact, many people will have their own “people,” and trying to fit in with an established group of friends can seem like an overwhelming task. So you have to find your own.

This could mean rushing to a sorority or fraternity, or joining a sports club, or one of the hundreds of interest groups on campus. Maybe it’s the school newspaper or the Quidditch team. Maybe you have no particular hobbies, but the connection to something to fill in some time and introduce you to new people.

Don’t spend all your time in the library

Sure, you go to school to get an education, but don’t spend so much time studying that you don’t take advantage of everything else college has to offer. There are countless free activities and clubs to visit and join, and college campuses are full of interesting restaurants, bars, museums and more. Obviously you want to do well in your lessons, but don’t overdo it – you’ll regret not taking advantage of your last few years of free time if you fill it all with study. Enjoy.

Keep in touch with old friends

Yes, you are in a new place and probably busy and stressed, especially at first. But don’t forget to meet up with your old school friends from time to time. This will not only strengthen your friendships, but it will also help on those days (and there will be several) when you are lonely at your new school.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Being a “newbie” even on a large campus can be daunting, but don’t let your nerves hold you back from seeking help if you need it. Professors, administrators, and other students will likely be happy to help you get settled or find out how your new school is doing. Your school will also likely offer interpreting services, such as mental health services or just online meals. Take advantage of all of them.


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