My Transfer Experience

Catherine Schmelter

Catherine Schmelter

‘Transfer student’ is a label that is given to students who have spent some amount of time at another college, university, or institution. It is a label just like ‘freshman,’ ‘sophomore,’ ‘junior’ or ‘senior.’ The common college stereotype suggests that freshmen bear the brunt of upperclassman torment and are lowly beings just waiting to advance in the collegiate hierarchy, sophomores know the lay of the land and jump at the opportunity to announce that they no longer carry the dreaded title of ‘freshman,’ juniors are just waiting for the day when they can hold high the trophy that is senior year status and seniors have free reign over the collegiate kingdom. But where do transfer students fall into this social system?

I came into the College of Charleston with 22 credits (eight credits shy of sophomore status). I would wander around trying to find my classes while at least pretending to look like I knew what I was doing. People would often ask me, “So, I’m guessing you’re a freshman.” Although, I was technically the lowest social tier of college students, I would be quick to say, “Oh, no, I’m a transfer student.”

Why was I so ashamed to be new? ‘Transfer’ is not some label that gets slapped onto the front of your brand new College of Charleston sweatshirt that you wear like a scarlet ‘A.’ Still, I felt out of place and alone. My first day of classes was not what I expected. I had hoped to meet new people and make friends like I had when the year before. Freshman year, everyone is looking to make friends. No one knows who anyone else is and everyone is just trying to fit in. It is different being a transfer student. The other students your age have their set group of friends. They are friendly, but they are content with the friends they had made freshman year.

I had no one holding my hand, no required seminars or courses and no friends. I realized that no one was going to pick me up and say, “Do this,” or “Do that.” I had to carve my own path and start fresh. I decided to get involved and attend club meetings and school events and I became friendly with people and felt less lonely. ‘Transfer student’ is not a death sentence. It does not mean you have to hide away in your dorm, it does not mean that you are forever dubbed ‘transfer’ and it definitely does not mean that you will not find your niche. It may be harder to fit in at first, but it just takes time to adjust. 

*The views in this article represent the opinion of the author, and not those of CisternYard News. 

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