Imagine the feeling you had in the beginning of your freshman year. That feeling of nervousness, confusion and fear. That feeling of wanting to be included, but still wanting to be yourself. Now imagine every single one of those feelings, with three times the intensity. This is how transfer students feel when they set foot on a new college campus. You look around and see that everyone has their own “clique” or group of friends that they trust and hang out with. You see students who are confident about which professors they should take because they heard horror stories about another professor from fellow students. On this large campus, everyone seems to know where they fit in. Everyone has a job, everyone is in clubs and everyone has their own lives already. Everyone but you.
As a transfer, it feels like you have to learn about these things while everyone is already ahead of you. That feeling of “I have to catch up” lingers in your mind every time you see well-adjusted students. Shannon Qualls, who transferred to Stony Brook from Bronx Community College, admits, “I was a junior when I transferred to Stony Brook. Even though I was a junior I felt like a freshman because of how much I didn’t know, everything was new to me.”
Stony Brook University – a university that is practically in the middle of nowhere – leaves you no choice but to find social life within the campus. The parties that are worth going to are far away, which leaves you with no plans if you have no way to get there. When the weekend comes, a good number of students who live on campus choose to go home, leaving the campus like a school event without free food. Luckily, I live on campus with roommates that made adjusting to the social life here easier. They have taken me along with them to social events such as the homecoming tailgate and Wolfstock. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Some transfers could end up living with people who do not have the same interests as them or do not have the same idea of “fun.” I can only imagine the feeling of isolation other transfers feel who do not have roommates as friendly and helpful as mine or those who commute to school.
If you are a transfer student reading this, don’t worry. There are ways to get rid of that “I have to catch up” voice in your head. Join a club – there are tons on campus. If you have no idea where to look, try going to involvement fairs or reading bulletin boards around campus. Go to club meetings and find what you like best. By joining organizations, you can meet new people and get involved at the same time – that’s how you kill two birds with one stone. As someone who likes to stay to herself, meeting new people and being involved has been a bit challenging. I remember moving on campus for Orientation II for transfer students – an orientation specifically made to help you acclimate to the school – and missing it due to a terrible fever. I missed out on learning about the resources that are available for new students like me. Most importantly, I missed the chance of meeting other fellow transfers who are going through the same challenges as me.
I quickly realized I needed to adjust to this campus as best and as fast as I could. I applied for on-campus jobs and was eventually hired after a couple of weeks. I became more open to going to social events with my roommates. The pressure to be social intensified when homecoming was just weeks away. The idea of being alone while everyone else around you is surrounded by friends and having the time of their life became a constant lingering thought.
When homecoming finally came around, I realized that I had no reason to overthink. Going to tailgate and finding out how friendly everyone is has put the pressure of being social and acclimating into a whole new perspective. I realized that transferring to a new college is an opportunity to try new things and meet new people. It is the perfect time to do things you have never done or could never do at your previous college. It is all about getting out of your comfort zone and finding out what is out there for you. With the right mindset, being a transfer could be seen as a fresh start rather than a setback.