After receiving my Associates Degree from Union County College in New Jersey, I decided to transfer to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey to receive my Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Media Studies and Human Resource Management. I was ecstatic, as every other student would be to experience a fresh start and new beginning at a university! However, as I begun the fall semester at Rutgers, it was not how I’d imagined it. My previous professors at Union County College had warned me of this “transfer shock,” but I didn't think it would affect me. Students experiencing transfer shock may feel overwhelmed with the amount of work that is given to them, may find a large university difficult to navigate, or even feel homesick due to the fact that they no longer see familiar faces. This causes students to not do as well as they had imagined academically through their first year. I have experienced and survived the transfer shock ordeal, and if you’re a transfer student reading this, so can you! Here are a few ideas to have a successful semester and shake off the stress:
- Connect with faculty. Visiting the dean of students, an academic advisor, or even an instructor can make a difference in how you perform academically. After making the appointment and discussing everything I was going through with the dean of students on the campus I lived on, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. The dean informed me that I was not alone, that many other transfer students were experiencing the same thing I was and how it would pass as soon as I focused on what I needed to succeed and earn my degree. She mapped out a plan for the next semester, which helped make certain decisions to have a less stressed semester. Students should visit their academic advisors at least twice throughout the semester, at the beginning and the end. Making an appointment and going forth with an academic advisor can help keep you on track in classes, find out an accurate graduation date, decide which classes to take in the fall or spring semester, or if winter/summer sessions would work best for you. Students should also take advantage of their instructor’s office hours! Attending an instructor’s office hours can be crucial to the grade you receive in the class as well as knowing where you stand and what you need to work on. Whether you speak with the dean of students, an academic advisor, or an instructor, remember to think of it as developing relationships. Developing these relationships can help connect you to receiving internships or letters of recommendation for jobs and grad school.
- Utilize your resources at school Taking advantage of the libraries, learning centers, gyms, student unions, etc. will benefit you tremendously. This will give you the chance to familiarize yourself with registration or deadline dates that need to be met, and you will always find yourself ahead of the game- whether its to register for recreational classes or register for classes or housing on campus.
- Get Involved! Getting involved on campus has plenty of benefits: from meeting great people or to enrich yourself in the most unforgettable experiences- you can’t go wrong! Your school should have a website dedicated to having students getting involved; there are countless of clubs, organizations, fraternities, sororities, sports, etc. Use this to your advantage and own it! Find out when general interest meetings are scheduled; if you’re unable to make it, email someone who is in charge to find out if the organization/club will attract you in joining. Getting involved can help you gain leadership skills, learn about other people who share the same interests as you, can benefit you academically, and your résumé will be able to stand out with the opportunities you will take advantage of. Getting involved can also relieve some of the transfer stress you’ve been dealing with and show you that you can have a great time at school. I rejected everything about my school until my classmate convinced me to check out her club since it fit my time frame between classes and it’s something that definitely changed my perspective, I was able to make friends and have fun!
- Manage your time Having a current planner, a calendar, and a whiteboard in a room you’ll spend most of your time in is something you’ve just got to have- no questions asked! What helps keep me sane as the weeks go by during the semester is understanding what I’ve got written down in my planner and on my whiteboard. Remember to write down due dates for projects, midterm and final exams, appointments with career services, meetings for clubs/organizations and/or work time. Don’t forget to add in gym dates because it’s important to stay healthy, too! Reviewing the syllabuses for all of your classes helps prepare you to plan for hectic days as well as fitting in free days to have some time for yourself. Carry your planner with you; do not ever leave it behind! Use the whiteboard to set goals for the day or even for the entire week. Viewing the goals written down motivates you to complete them and you will definitely feel so rewarded once you’re able to cross off the goals you’ve accomplished. Updating my planner and calendar makes me feel like my life is in order and I’m on track, which is something that you can feel as well!
Remember- Patience is key! This isn’t something that is going to change overnight, but it’s something that will change and affect your future, so don’t give up! Also, never be afraid to ask for help, if help is there and willing, take it! There is no problem with asking for help, you’ll avoid many issues if you swallow your pride and kick your fear to the side. If you’re at the dining hall and have no one to sit with, find someone who is sitting alone and ask if it’s okay to sit with him or her and introduce yourself. Breaking out of your shell in such a large university makes all the difference and will help you gain confidence when looking for internships or job opportunities when they come along the way! You are not alone- many transfer students are going through transfer shock. If you know anyone that has transferred to the university you’re attending, guide them so they can avoid as much of the shock as possible; you’ll even make a friend or two by doing so.
This post was written by Beatrice Rivera, our Campus Ambassador at Rutgers University.