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Transferring Colleges: How to Adjust to Your New School

A Few Simple Steps Can Help Make a New Place Seem Like Home

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Caucasian friends eating lunch on grass
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If you've made the decision to transfer colleges, you've obviously shown the follow-through and commitment to yourself and your education. Being in college takes a lot of hard work, and starting over at a new school can require a lot of extra effort on top of everything else you have to manage.

Even if all of your credits transferred, you still have to start from scratch when it comes to building up your new life. New friends, a new routine, and a new campus culture all require a lot of adjustment. Fortunately, with a little courage and a few easy steps, you can start building your home-away-from-home as soon as you arrive on campus.

Go through all of Orientation, even if you feel like you know what to do in college. Sure, you may feel like a pro at college by this point. You are not, however, a pro at knowing your new school. Even if you're worried that you'll be told a lot of things you already know, go to as many transfer Orientation programs as you possibly can. Things will work differently at your new school and it's much easier to learn the ropes before classes begin than it is to try to figure everything out when you're in a time crunch. Additionally, you'll have a great opportunity to make friends to lots of other new students -- especially transfer students, who can share in your experience in a way that first-year students might not be able to.

Hang out on campus whenever possible. Sure, it might be easier to head home for an hour or two between classes on certain afternoons. But hanging out on campus, even if you're just doing homework in the coffee shop, can be an easy way to build connections to your new school. You'll learn to get the feel of the place, learn how to feel comfortable there, and learn what the natural rhythm of the campus is like. Additionally, you'll set yourself up for random but important encounters with other students. You're much more likely to meet new people and make friends if you're on campus than if you're at home watching YouTube.

Join a club, organization, or student government. You don't need to wait until you learn more about your new school before you get involved. If you have a strong interest, join a club or organization. You'll connect with others who have similar interests and find a great way to pursue a passion. Additionally, even if you're brand new as a transfer student, consider becoming involved in student government. They likely have at least one representative who voices the needs of transfer students. And as a brand-new transfer, you have a unique perspective that can help out others in positive, productive ways.

Get an on-campus job. Besides the additional income, an on-campus job can provide all kinds of benefits. You'll meet people, have fun, learn some skills, build a professional network, and have a way to pass the time. You don't have to work so much that your job interferes with your classes, of course; just work enough so that you reap the benefits, both financial and otherwise.

Talk to people as much as possible. Sure, it can feel intimidating to be a transfer student. Many students already belong to social groups and you might feel like an outsider. The amazing thing about college, however, is that social circles are always morphing. Students drop out; students study abroad; new students come with each incoming class and with each new semester. If you think about it, being a transfer puts you at an advantage when it comes to meeting people. You already have a little college under your belt and know the ropes; now you just need some interesting folks with whom you can connect. Challenge yourself to start up a conversation with at least one new person every day. After all, when was the last time you heard people criticizing someone else for being open and friendly?

Be patient and give yourself time. You transferred colleges because something was missing at your old institution. It could have been an academic program; it could have been financial aid; it could have been a campus culture. Regardless, just as it took time for you to transition out of your old school, it will take some time to transition into your new one. Be patient with yourself and know that, with a few small steps every day, you'll eventually build your home away from home at your new college.

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