This is the third in a series of posts about the process of transferring to a new college. Our first two posts considered the decision to transfer and the process of transferring. This post looks at settling in to the new institution.
A transfer to a new college is a fresh start. Much like entering college as a new, first-year student, this fresh start can be both exciting and intimidating. As a college parent, you can help your student make this adjustment smoothly.
Be supportive of your student as he goes through a transition period. Help him be prepared for a time of adjustment. Yes, he is familiar with college life, but his new college may be very different from his old institution. He may feel out of place at first. He will have an “in between” status for a while. He is not a brand new freshman, but he is new and unfamiliar with things. This will pass, but he needs to be prepared to give it some time. He can’t assume that things will be done in the same way as they were in his old school. Encourage him to ask questions often.
Encourage your student to take advantage of any orientation sessions offered to transfer students. Some schools do not conduct orientation for transfers, but many are beginning to recognize that transfer students have specific needs. Although your student may feel that she already knows it all, encourage her to attend any information sessions offered by the school. In addition to the information she may gain, this is a great opportunity to meet other students who are also new to the school.
Encourage your student to get involved on campus in as many ways possible. In addition to going to classes, being involved in activities is an ideal way to meet other students and to quickly get a sense of the life and culture of the institution. Encourage her to seek out other transfer students and to connect with students in any way that she can. This will help her to get over the “out of place” feeling quickly.
Encourage your student to take advantage of the clean slate he now has. He has no campus reputation, he has no GPA (strong or weak), he has no history following him. Help him consider how things will be different at this new school or how he will recreate the success that he had at his previous school.
Remind him that his path may be different from other students who have not transferred. He needs to be responsible for keeping track of courses, requirements, credits. He may need to consider the possibility of a summer course or an intersession course or even an extra semester or year. If his reasons for transferring were important, the extra time or effort will be well worth it.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that the words support and encourage are used often in this post. Your student has taken an important, and perhaps courageous, step in his college career. It is a step that not all students need to take, or take advantage of. Your recognition and support of his move will help him to make the necessary adjustments and continue his path to success and independence.