Choosing the college that’s right for you is a difficult decision — one so difficult that many students will make it more than once! Transferring to a new school can provide you with fresh and exciting opportunities, but it can also be stressful to acclimate to life on an unfamiliar campus.
If you will be transferring colleges this January, here are five tips for a smooth transition:
1. Attend an orientation session for transfer students
Most schools will offer an orientation session geared toward transfer students each semester. Certain institutions may even require you to attend. During a transfer student orientation, college staff members may address common transition issues and review important deadlines and policies. If you have questions, this is an ideal time to ask them.
At orientation, you may also meet upperclassmen or graduate students who are willing to share “insider” tips, like the best places to eat on campus or the quietest study spots. Another perk of orientation is the chance to meet other transfer students before classes begin. Take the time to introduce yourself. Recognizing familiar faces can help you feel more comfortable on a new campus, and you may even make a lifelong friend or two.
2. Meet with an academic adviser
You’ll likely review your new school’s academic requirements during orientation, but it can pay dividends to meet independently with an academic adviser. When you meet, discuss which credits from your previous college will apply to a degree at your new school. Doing so will help you avoid unnecessarily repeating credits, saving you both time and money.
If you are unsure about what you would like to study, your academic adviser can also suggest a degree or degrees that you may wish to pursue. Ask your adviser to outline which classes you will need to complete in order to fulfill your degree requirements. Also be sure to double-check course registration dates and deadlines. Registration procedures at your new college may be very different from those at the school you transferred from, so it is important to familiarize yourself with them early in the semester.
3. Organize your belongings
As mentioned earlier, staying on top of the deadlines, important dates and policies at your new college can help you avoid unnecessary stress and frustration. It can be helpful to keep a daily or weekly planner that includes this vital information.
At home or in your dorm room, arrange your belongings (such as school supplies and textbooks) in a way that allows you to quickly find the items you need. With less clutter, it will be easier to feel comfortable in your new space. As you try to acclimate to your new school environment, you will be thankful that you got these organizational issues out of the way.
4. Understand your financial aid options
How will you finance your new college? When transferring to a new school, aim to familiarize yourself with its financial aid deadlines and policies, as procedures may (again) differ from those at your former college.
Besides ensuring that your financial aid is in place at your new school, it is worth investigating any scholarship opportunities that may exist. Check with the financial aid office to determine what scholarships you are eligible for at your new college, and make note of their specific deadlines and requirements.
5. Get involved
Saying goodbye to the friends, professors and staff you have come to know at your former school can be difficult. Participating in activities and social events at your new college will help you meet people sooner and avoid feeling alone. Research the clubs, groups and teams — like honor societies and intramural squads — that exist on your campus, and get involved. Good luck!