Deciding to transfer to a different school usually stems from one of two things: 1) some kind of bad experience or dissatisfaction with where you started, or 2) going from a community college to a 4-year college or university. Either way, it’s a big decision, and a big change.
I transferred from a large, public university to a small, private college after my fall semester, freshman year. I remember sitting down with my parents and explaining to them why I had to get out. They didn’t understand at first, and were hesitant to agree with my decision. Looking back now, I’m not sure where I would be if I hadn’t transferred. I ended up going straight through from my Bachelor’s to Master’s, and I’ll be graduating again next week.
But being a new kid on campus isn’t easy, especially if you are transferring in the middle of the year. It can seem like everyone already has their friend group figured out and if you don’t make an effort to get involved and meet people, it can be quite lonely.
So how can you get involved as a transfer student?
Here are 11 ways to meet new people and find your niche:
1. Go to the transfer student orientation
This is a great way to meet all the other new students all at once. You’re all going through the same thing and are fresh off of another campus. Make a few friends, either with your fellow transfers, or the current student ambassadors that are there to assist with the events of the day.
2. Live with a roommate
If you opt to live with a roommate, you are guaranteed to know at least one person on campus. Then, when they have friends come over, or go hang out with friends, you can meet those people too.
3. Go to organization fairs
If you’re in the market for making a few friends, organization fairs are a great place to shop. Not only are the club representatives literally recruiting members, but if you’re choosing the organization, you’re going to have similar interests.
4. Join a few clubs
Get involved on campus by joining a few clubs. Each club usually has its own social events and community service outreach, which are great ways to meet people on and off campus.
5. Introduce yourself to the people living on your floor (or building)
Being the new kid on the block can be kind of awkward. Step outside of your comfort zone a bit and make a point to introduce yourself to everyone you meet where you live. You never know when you’re going to need to borrow a screwdriver or vacuum.
6. Talk to the people you sit by in class (that’s how I met my Maid of Honor)
College professors seem to be big supporters of the group project. There’s nothing worse than finding out you have a semester long project in groups of four, and being the new kid in class that no one chooses. So make an effort to talk to the people you sit next to. I’m not talking about the disruptive, annoying, talking during lecture kind of talking, rather the simple, “Hey, how’s it going?” before class.
7. Find a job on campus
There are hundreds of odd jobs you can get on a college campus. Working on campus is a great way to stay on top of all the news and gossip going around. It also makes you a familiar face to many people.
8. Get to know your professors
Visit your professors during their office hours, even if it’s just to drop in and say hello. You might have missed out on time with them during the first few semesters, so make up for it with the time you have. If you’re expecting letters of recommendation for jobs or graduate school, getting to know your professors should be one of your top priorities. They can also be gatekeepers to internships and a number of other opportunities.
9. Volunteer on campus or in the local community
Get involved by volunteering locally. Help yourself by helping others. Again, you’ll be making yourself a regular, recognizable face, which makes you more approachable. Volunteering also looks great on a resume.
10. Go to sporting and/or performing arts events
Get to know your campus and what the students are involved in and value by attending a variety of performances and events. If you’re at a school that’s known for having a top notch football team, go to a game. If theater or orchestra performances are more your cup of tea, buy a ticket and spend a night indulging in fine arts.
11. Spend as much time on campus as possible
The only way you’re going to meet people and get involved on campus is to be on campus. If you live off campus, try to spend as much time in the library, at the rec center, or working in a computer lab as possible. Make yourself part of the campus family, even if it’s not where you make your bed.
Transferring to a different school is hard–there’s no way to sugarcoat it. It can help if you already know a few people on campus, but you aren’t going to be by their side 24/7. You need to find your own niche, and your own people. Getting involved is a great way to integrate yourself into the campus culture. Transferring should be a positive experience, it just might require a little more effort on your part.