It’s a strange feeling to be somewhere you’re supposed to fit into but somehow still feel like a foreigner. Walking around a campus you were accepted to on paper, yet feeling more like an alien than ever. It can be liberating for some, the ability to fly under the radar and start over in a place where no one knows your past. For others, it’s a terrifying new chapter completely out of their comfort zone. However you look at it, transferring colleges is a unique experience for each individual.
As young adults, we are often expected to have these lofty ambitions and a certain path to achieve these in a timely manner. For most, this means a four year institution and securing a practical internship. There’s a specific timeline that the majority of college students follow, going through the motions and hoping to be content with the result. But not everyone feels satisfied with where they originally choose to study, or even what they originally study.
Loyola Marymount University senior Christina Habeeb transferred her junior year from the University of Oregon. “It was an interesting experience,” she said. “I transferred during COVID so I didn’t even set foot on campus until the first day of my senior year. Being all online made it a lot more difficult to form connections and meet new people which made the overall transfer experience a lot harder.”
And what a hard transition to begin with, regardless of COVID. According to Campusreel.org, LMU accepts only 37.8% of transfer applicants making it a very competitive process. In order to gain admission, prospective transfer students should ideally have a GPA of 3.8 or higher.
Cameron Cummings, a senior transfer student from the University of Colorado Boulder, echoes this idea. “I transferred my junior year to LMU because I wanted to be closer to home, since I’m from Newport Beach. I didn’t really think about the challenges of being a transfer student during COVID, but it made finding roommates and forming friendships very difficult and completely altered my experience.”
According to CCCCO.edu, over eighty thousand California college students transfer to different universities within their four years. Despite the large number of students who transfer, the process can be taxing on an individual’s mental health as well as academic success. Going to college in itself is a huge transition from living at home, as students acclimate to taking responsibility for their own health, time, finances, academics, and much more. Transferring colleges adds another layer to the process, as students experience an additional transition, facing the challenges of making friends, adjusting to a new location, new professors, a different academic level, etc.
“Moving to LA was an extremely challenging transition for me,” LMU senior Nora Murawski recalls. She is originally from Chicago, attended Southern Methodist University in Texas, and then transferred to LMU.
“My mental health suffered, as I knew no one in California and was so comfortable at SMU. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience an exciting city like LA, but I never thought I would go through such a tough time mentally,” Murawski recalls.
At LMU, they expect a lot of transfer students and provide many resources for their students to support those academic expectations. All LMU transfer students are required to take a transfer orientation class their first semester. The school also has a website dedicated to transfer students, complete with specific transfer advisors, transfer requirements, and past students’ transfer experience. They offer student experience connect events, which aim to help first year and transfer students alike able to connect with the school community right away. The Lion Transfer Network also was created to help transfer students have a smoother transition, providing alternative connect events as well as even more resources dedicated just to transfer students.
Although all of this is provided at LMU, not all students take advantage of it. “I never used any of the transfer resources,” Habeeb says. “I felt like it wasn’t a very organic way to meet people, it seemed so forced and awkward to me. The only thing I did was the orientation class, which we were required to take and that’s honestly where I met the most people.”
“All of my friends at LMU are transfer students,” Cummings stated. “I’ve met, like, two people who didn’t transfer. It’s kind of nice because we have similar experiences and are going through the same problems with making friends and meeting people.”
According to the testimonies of several transfer students at LMU, the most diffiduclt part of adapting to life on campus is the social environment. While academics and work ethics are comprehensible, making friends and integrating into the web of social life is the most common challenge reported by transfer students.
“I feel like it’s such a tight knit school and I feel like a stranger walking around campus sometimes because I know nobody,” Murawski says. “I wish I had taken more opportunities to connect with other students but now that I’m a senior I don’t really care, I kinda just want to be done.”
Despite the challenges of transferring colleges, the students I talked to say they wouldn’t trade it for the world. Though many acknowledged it can be lonely and isolating at times, the experience of transitioning into a new and unfamiliar environment is unmatched.
“I’m glad I got out of my bubble in Texas,” Murawski stated. “Being in LA is so worth it. There are so many opportunities, interesting people, and just an overall fun atmosphere.
Habeeb echoed this idea by saying, “Oregon was so boring. Being at LMU and in LA was worth the hassle it took to get me here. I feel like I’m not only receiving a better education but also making more memories than I would have made in that tiny college town in Oregon.”