Transfer students face unique challenges

Unlike freshmen—who begin their four years of college surrounded by an entire class of peers all eagerly looking to form friendships and broaden their social reaches—transfer students who are all enrolled in general education and introductory classes together oftentimes find themselves having to make an extra effort to form friend groups and to build connections with their contemporaries and professors on campus. This is not bad, just different—and it requires a unique outlook.

A transfer student myself, I faced this dilemma head-on. Now a senior with only five weeks left until graduation, I feel I can share my thoughts and possibly aid other transfer students with their own transitions.

After spending my first two years at SUNY Oneonta—an amazing school where I had great academic and social experiences—I transferred to Geneseo in 2014 for an easier commute to and from my hometown of Buffalo. Upon transferring, I made strategic decisions to help myself become immersed and thrive in the Geneseo culture.

Housing location played a big role in facilitating the growth of my social life. Even though I came to Geneseo as an upperclassman, I chose to live on campus in transfer student housing so I could be in close proximity to as many other students sharing the same experience as possible. This proved tremendous in facilitating the growth of my friendships and my network of acquaintances in the campus community. I found people I could relate to, and them me; sharing our stories from our previous schools, our diversity of reasons for transferring and our hopes for our upcoming years at Geneseo.

Starting the mid-to-upper level classes in my major, I soon learned that most communication students already knew one another and had developed both academic relationships and friendships. It was important that I didn’t let this intimidate me or hinder my willingness to socialize with other communication students before class. I also took advantage of group projects, using them as network-builders.

Another significant step I took was speaking up in class. While professors seemed to already know most of my classmates, my participation allowed them to notice and remember me. Those very same professors gradually got to know me just as well as they knew students they had since their 100-level classes.

Becoming involved in a variety of clubs and organizations further enabled me to branch out. Not only do these extracurricular activities look good on a résumé, but they also widened my connections and created spaces for me to form even more friendships with students who held similar interests. Joining The Lamron—an organization I am obviously engaged in and enthusiastic about—was possibly the best decision I could have made. My attraction to writing and design developed into skills rooted in experience and I interacted with co-workers who shared similar passions and goals—which, in turn, instigated friendships I hold dear.

Looking back at my four years of college, I’m glad I experienced both the freshman year transition at Oneonta and the transfer student venture at Geneseo. I endeavored to take positivity from both and not to feel impeded due to my lack of a networking foundation during the start of my upperclassman years. Rather than allow a new environment full of unfamiliar faces and already-shaped social groups of my peers to scare me, I deliberately put myself “out there” and let myself succeed. I would encourage other transfer students to consider my reflections and to build on them in their own explorations.