This semester, the University welcomed 52 transfer students to campus. This diverse class of transfer students comes from all over the world, including China and Germany. Now that it’s been over three weeks since school started up, most sophomore, junior, and senior students are settling into a familiar routine. However, for many transfer students, the first few weeks of school can present new challenges and discomfort.
“It’s hard at first, especially when you’re a sophomore and you’re supposed to know what’s going on,” said Rachel Rosin ’19, who transferred to the University last fall. “It’s definitely weird at the beginning, walking around and thinking, I’m older, but I’m not. I’m not a freshman, but I’m not really a sophomore. I think that no matter what and where you go, being a transfer can be hard, it just depends on who you meet. That makes the experience easier or harder.”
“My experience, in general, was hard because when I transferred I wasn’t entirely committed to Wesleyan yet,” agreed Elly Blum ’18. “I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision for me. When you transfer, it’s starting over again, so you have that same kind of hesitation that you would have if you were a freshman, but you’re also simultaneously comparing everything to your old school.”
In order to help integrate transfer students into the community, Wesleyan requires transfers to attend new student orientation, arriving on the same day as the freshman class. Transfers are placed into orientation groups separate from the freshman, with their own orientation leaders and activities.
“Transfer students go to orientation, just as freshman do, [and] there’s transfer dinners,” recalled Charlotte Pitts ’18. “Those kinds of events, in the larger scheme of your life here at Wesleyan, are pretty insignificant, but in general, it was really meaningful for me, in terms of connecting with that community. I had a transfer connection which was really wonderful, so that was someone who had previously transferred here kind of acquainting me with different parts of campus and different outlets for potential engagement with the community, so I really enjoyed that. I thought that Wesleyan continues to do a really good job in that regard.”
“I think it’s helpful to have a transfer orientation,” said Rosin. “I think that having one, in general, is a good thing because so many people came in and didn’t know anybody. I made some good friends through it. It’s a small group, only fifty people, so being on campus for a few days with those forty or fifty people is really nice. It just gives you a chance to have at least a few friends before everybody else gets here.”
However, some students disagree with the idea of having a transfer orientation, like Sasha Cohen ’20, who is a new transfer here at Wesleyan.
“A lot of the transfer orientation was simply the same as the freshman orientation, which was frustrating because we’re not freshmen,” Cohen said. “I felt younger than I was.”
Navigating housing can also be a scary part of transferring—adjusting to a new roommate, and a new environment—but Rosin thinks that Wesleyan does a great job with housing assignments for transfers.
“I think that something they do really well is they integrate transfers living together but then they also have transfers living with other sophomores, which I think is good because it would be bad if they said, ‘you guys are transfers only, live together,’” Rosin said. “I think it’s nice that they made it some transfers and some non-transfers.”
While orientation can be a good first introduction to begin meeting people and integrating into the Wesleyan community, some complain that the University does not do enough to follow up with transfer students. There is no transfer coordinator or adviser specifically for transfers, except for a special program called “Transfer Connections,” where new transfers are paired with older transfers for support.
“They could have maybe done a few more transfer dinners, and those kinds of check-ins,” Rosin said. “The Transfer Connections could also have been done better and they could have organized those groups better, maybe by where you’re from. There are a lot of factors and I think they could have thought about the way that they chose those groups. I didn’t think that that was organized so well. It could have been a better opportunity to meet more people.”
“I agree that the school didn’t give a lot of follow-ups, but I don’t know if I would have wanted follow-up at the time,” Blum said. “I didn’t want to be picked out or seen as separate. I wish that club stuff had started sooner, they waited two weeks. I was ready to go into that on the third day. It also would have been nice if the school had been more supportive of some people.”
Pitts suggested the University offer additional services for transfers who are having trouble deciding on a major.
“I think the university must do a better job with the sophomores, because you haven’t decided your major yet, you’re still kind of navigating different departments, so you have more time to get to know the place and experiment with different things you may not have thought you were interested in,” Pitts said. “As a sophomore, I was able to experience that, but as a junior transferring in, that might be really challenging.”
Although Wesleyan’s transfer integration may not be perfect, these transfers, whether it be their last year here or their first, said they take pride in Wesleyan and their new experiences.
“People at Wesleyan are very welcoming and kind and getting involved in on-campus activities has been a great way to engage in the community,” Cohen said. “I think that with time everything is going to get easier and smoother.”
Upon reflection, Pitts says that it’s hard for her to even remember that she transferred here.
“Transferring is the best decision I ever made,” Pitts said. “It sounds cheesy, but I don’t know who I would be if I didn’t transfer.”
Jane Herz can be reached at email@example.com.