By: Mariana Cruz
Tips from someone who’s been there, done that!
Whether you’re coming from another university or a community college, transferring can be intimidating. Leaving everything you know and suddenly being expected to adjust to a new environment with different trends and attitudes is a lot for anyone to take in. It sounds scary, but if you know what to do, you’ll be able to tackle the transfer process like a pro:
- Transfer Credit: Every university is structured differently. One of the very first steps I took towards my transfer to the University of Tennessee was researching my credit count. Transfer Equivalency Tables are your best friend when it comes to determining which credits do and do not transfer. Though most credits can be deemed transferable, you’ll need to research their values. While most of my General Education credits seemed to transfer accordingly, I also discovered that sometimes they only transfer as elective credits. Get ahead of the process, research as you go—sometimes you’ll even discover that your current university offers courses that can be used as transfer credit geared towards your degree which will put you ahead of the average student!
- Plan Ahead: Quite frankly, I wish I could go back in time and take my own advice on this one because it would have saved me a great deal of stress. If possible, plan your entire schedule yearly. Every university offers some form of degree evaluation. I highly encourage looking into the major(s) and minor(s) you plan to peruse then writing out the classes you need, how many years you have left to fulfill these requirements for your degree(s) and then determining which classes you’ll take per semester. Planning a head will not only make your journey easier, but it will also help determine pre-requisites and co-requisites you’ll need to take before or after each course.
- Get Involved: Being shy is not an option for us. While getting my class schedule was my main priority, I also took it upon myself to investigate the diverse groups of organizations offered at UT. Within my first semester at UT, I became a part of University Housing working for the Vols @ Home team. Not only have I grown as a student, but I was given the opportunity to get to know my campus more. Working closely with people who have already become acclimated to UT allowed my transition into a new campus to be less intimidating and more fun than I could have made it on my own. Student involvement will lead you to opportunities—opportunities to build relationships, network, get connected and make lifelong friends.
- Spice Up Your Schedule: Take a variety of classes. In my opinion, the worst thing you could do is to fill your schedule with all core classes. Core classes are major focused and too many at once will slowly but surely cost you your sanity. I suffered a great deal my first transfer semester by biting off more than I could chew, and I would take it back today if given the opportunity. Take a good mix of classes—half core, half electives. Your semester is guaranteed to go a lot smoother. As always, make sure to check with your academic advisor!
- Ask for Help: Befriend your academic advisor. This was the best decision I ever made, hands down. I visited my advisor more than most my first semester at my new university. Whether it was academic advice or tips and tricks on how to navigate my way around campus, I was lucky enough to have an advisor who made my transition into a new campus easier than I could have ever imagined. Your advisor is more than someone you go to when it comes time to register for classes, they are the ones put in place to make sure your academic journey goes according to plan. They are there to help you, so never be afraid to ask them for guidance.
- Schedule Overload: Everyone is eager to graduate, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t be afraid to take an extra semester or two because your journey is taking longer than you anticipated. I made the mistake of taking on more than I could handle and ultimately had to withdraw from classes which set me back when I originally was trying to pull ahead. I went from taking 19 credit hours only to drop out of classes and end up with a 10-credit hour semester because I was impatient and just overly eager to get college over with. Which brings me to my next point…
- Take Your Time: Never be afraid of taking an extra semester or two. If anything, summer classes are your best friend. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need a little bit more time to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings—save some classes for the summer. Summer classes are great for pulling ahead just as much as they are great for catching up. You need to do what is best for you and only you. Remember, it’s not about winning the race; it’s about finishing the race.
- Focus on the Present: Stop worrying about the future and focus on right now. Don’t pressure yourself into meeting timeline deadlines just because “everyone else is doing it.” My advisor has assured me countless times that it’s okay to not know what your next step is—not everyone who walks across the stage at graduation has their entire life planned out. The biggest mistake you can make is allowing the fear and mystery of your future to distract you from your studies. There is a reason you chose your major(s)—don’t give up now!
Transferring was a blessing in disguise and I would do it all over again if I had to. No matter what your reasoning for transferring, your life is about to change. The transfer transition is only as stressful as you make it. Do not let the process distract you from the bigger picture: a new beginning with some of the best friends you’ll ever have. As you journey through your new chapter at your new university remember that you’re not alone. You’re going to have highs, you’re going to have lows. You’ll have good times, you’ll have bad times. Don’t second guess your decision, I promise you, you made the right choice.
Congratulations, good luck—Go Vols!