Think back to your freshman year. Remember the terrifying feeling of being surrounded by people you don’t know and not knowing how to get anywhere. Now, imagine having to do that twice. This might seem like an absolute nightmare to some, but it is the utter reality for all transfer students. The only difference is that the sense of community many freshmen have with each other does not exist among transfer students. It can be incredibly difficult having to start from scratch mid-way through your college career. There are many advisors and faculty that help assist transfer students academically. The focus is on making sure classes transfer over, the paperwork gets done and classes have been registered for. However, nobody seems to address the social issues some students face when transferring to a new school.
There is just something special about the friendships formed in college. When students begin their college career, they have four years to develop close knit relationships. They can bond over their struggles in the beginning and navigate their way through the uncertain times together. When you come in later, it seems as that the chance to form these types of relationships has passed. Everyone else has already established sturdy relationships and have had two years to bond over this crazy, weird college life.
As a student that transferred here this year, I can say that trying to make friends can be very difficult. It’s the issue of wanting to make friends, but having trouble connecting with others. All of the inside jokes and experiences that others have already shared are completely foreign to transfer students. An article put out The New York Times address how transfer students can feel excluded due to college’s stress on welcoming freshman specifically. “They [UNCC faculty] weren’t very specific about groups I get involved in,” said sophomore transfer student Alyssa Stanton. “I feel like that’s focused more on the freshmen.” Many different activities and parties are arranged to ensure people who enter as freshman feel accommodated. This is what kick-starts so many great friendships among new students. Many times, transfer students are not included in these types of events. Sometimes it seems that in order to make new friends as a transfer student, you have to put forth extra effort and assertiveness that other’s don’t have to. “I was so used to smaller schools, and now being in a bigger school, it’s a little harder to talk to people,” said current transfer student Soumaya Chaoui. It can be a bit exhausting after a while. Transfer students only have two years to try and create the connections that most people can form over four years. The thought that there could no way to form these once-in-a-lifetime friendships can be very discouraging. This can cause transfer students to feel isolated from the traditional students around them.
This feeling of disconnectedness can even take a toll on transfer student’s mental health. “Psychological disorders peak in college,” said Eugene Beresin, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training at Mass. General. He believes that every student is already vulnerable to mental health issues, but transfer students are particularly at risk. The stress of trying to fit in can cause some health issues that many people never even consider. Beresin says this can lead to problems as serious as mood and eating disorders, anxiety and the pressure to socialize. What people don’t realize is that being a transfer student is very difficult, and it feels like there is nobody around to talk to. It feels as if, because transfer students are older than the average freshman, it isn’t still acceptable to ask for help. This allows the feelings of anxiety and loneliness to build up until they develop into serious complications.
The number of students transferring to universities is on the rise; which is great. People are starting to become more familiar with students who never took the traditional college route and the landscape is becoming far more diverse because of it. “Here, I am able to find various people from various cultures,” said transfer student Vasanthi Nimmagadda, “which has been really good.” This is a positive step for the university. We should encourage anyone wishing to pursue an education at UNCC to transfer in. Even though this new educational pathway has become more prominent, that doesn’t mean everyone completely understands transfer students. There is still a stigmas placed on students who start transfer from different colleges, especially community colleges. Some believe that students transfer because they messed around I high school or simply weren’t smart enough to get into a university in the beginning. These assumptions are completely wrong. Students have many specific reasons for choosing different college paths. For me, the price of a university was much too high for me in the begging. Starting out at a community college allowed me to work and save money to come here for my junior year. Some may have family issues that need tending to, economic troubles or just need the extra time to figure out the right career path. Having a narrow minded view of transfer students needs to stop. Honestly, it hurts to think that some people put a negative annotation on transfer students. Everyone takes different paths in life, and they should all be respected.
Being a transfer student is tougher than you might imagine. There is a specific disconnect felt when you enter college later than everyone around you. It’s like trying to learn a song that everyone else is already playing. It is my hope that faculty and students can work together to figure out a way to accommodate starting transfer students. Feeling like an outsider can be really tough in the beginning. We need to make sure we’re here for one other. In the end, we’re all Niners.