Transfer Students


Because of their wisdom and experience, peer mentors can serve as a guide for transfer students; mentees learn the institution’s values and practices, which increases their productivity and commitment to the university (Allen, McManus, and Russell, 456; Marra et al., 5-6). Mentors also engender familiarity with facilities and (campus) resources (Flaga, 133; Laier and Steadman, 5; Yomtov, Plunkett, Efrat, and Marin, 27). They can provide connections and increase feelings of campus connectedness and belonging (Marra et al., 5-6; Flaga 133; Sachedina, 61; Chester, Burton, Xenos, and Elgar, 30-31; Yomtov et al., 27). Mentors help transfer students rebuild the sense of community that is lost to them when they transfer from a community college to a four-year university (Kampe, Edmister, Boone, and Watford; Marra et al., 5-6; Laier and Steadman, 5). Good peer mentoring relationships foster retention (Kampe et al.; Marra et al., 5-6). Research suggests that peer mentoring contributes to the five senses of student success: capability, connectedness, purpose, resourcefulness, and culture (Kampe et al.; Sachedina, 61; Chester et al., 30-31). Mentors promote self-efficacy, address the advising gap, boost grades, and improve transfer students’ abilities to adjust (Marra et al., 5-6; Laier and Steadman, 5; Aspinall, 41, 42, and 144). They also aid in career advancement and can enhance the self-esteem of the mentee (Marra et al., 5-6). Additionally, peer mentors provide transitional and emotional support (Sachedina, 61; Kypuros, Fuentes, Vásquez, Crown, and Pierce, 5-6; Yomtov et al., 27). Finally, mentors promote integration (Yomtov et al., 27).

Works Cited

Allen, Tammy D., Stacy E. McManus, and Joyce E.A. Russell. "Newcomer Socialization

and Stress: Formal Peer Relationships as a Source of Support." Journal of Vocational Behavior 54.3 (1999): 453-70. Print.

Aspinall, Jason T. "The Use of Peer Mentoring as an Intervention to Increase

Self-Efficacy among Community College Transfer Students at a Four-Year Liberal Arts University." Robert Morris University, 2016. Print.

Chester, Andrea, et al. "Peer Mentoring: Supporting Successful Transition for First Year

Undergraduate Psychology Students." Australian Journal of Psychology 65 (2013): 30-37. Print.

Flaga, C.T. "The Process of Transition for Community College Transfer Students."

Michigan State University, 2002. Print.

Kampe, J., et al. "Transfer Students: Tailoring a Freshman Program to Their Needs."

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings 2008. 2008. Print.

Kypuros, Javier A., et al. "Technology-Enabled, after-Hours, Asynchronous,

Peer-Led Supplementary Instruction and Mentoring in Engineering Gatekeeper Courses." Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2016 IEEE. IEEE, 2016. Print.

Laier, J., and S.J. Steadman. "Improving Transfer Student Success." ASEE Annual

Conference & Exposition, Conference Proceedings 2014. 2014. Print.

Marra, R., et al. "Peer Mentoring: Impact on Mentees and Comparison with

Non-Participants." ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings 2010. 2010. Print.

Sachedina, S.A. "Transfer Students Experiences within Learning Communities at a

Four-Year Institution." New York University, 2012. Print.

Yomtov, Dani, et al. "Can Peer Mentors Improve First-Year Experiences of University

Students?" Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice 19.1 (2017): 25-44. Print.

Five Things To Know

#1: Devise Research & Study Strategies
  • Use the library
    • Take a library research class ASAP or check out the Marriott Library's libguides.
  • Hire a tutor or use the university’s resources to get the help you need—in math, writing, language, etc.
  • You’re (probably) not going to have enough time to complete readings, so learn how to skim smartly for information and prioritize tasks.
  • Read the syllabus!
  • Learn to navigate the campus
    • With time, you’ll be aware of the building(s) where your major is taught, but if you need to take an extra day, or an additional 15-20 minutes before your first class to figure out where to go, do it.
  • Learn time management
    • Space out enough time to write a paper; however long you think you'll need, double it.
    • Invest in a planner/scheduler.
  • Go to class, whether or not instructors take attendance.
  • Be yourself and do your best work.
#2: Explore Career & Academic Goals
  • ​Meet with your academic advisor
    • Check up with them regularly so you know if you’re on-track to graduate. They can also provide you with resources related to internships, major events, career opportunities, etc.
    • They'll clear up misunderstandings about major requirements (what classes you need to take, as well as offer solutions to scheduling conflicts).
  • Meet with career services.
  • Get a part-time job to help pay for tuition/loans. Preferably work on-campus or near-campus.
  • You're probably going to change your major (a few times)
    • Don’t be afraid to class hop in the first week to see which courses appeal to you and your schedule.
    • Switch your program if you don’t like what you’re doing.
    • Know that your plans are going to change.
#3: Network with Peers & Faculty
  • Get to know your professors
    • Meet with them during office hours.
    • Ask them questions if you're confused about classwork, assignments, readings, etc. 
    • Professors can provide information about careers in your field of study, references for grad school, and supervise special projects/honors theses.
    • If you ask (nicely), they may even allow you into a course with a waitlist. However, make sure you attend that first class even if you aren’t formally signed up—this shows initiative. 
  • Make friends with classmates
    • Because (unfortunately) you're likely to lose touch with old friends from high school or the college you transferred from.
    • ​And if you don’t live on campus, you’re probably going to have to put in more effort to meet people. Don’t be afraid to chat with classmates; they’re a great resource and potential friends.
    • Keep in mind moderation, in all things, be it work, academic, or social life.
  • Know that college is going to challenge your beliefs or put you in contact with people whose beliefs are different from your own.
#4: Be Aware of Opportunities & Events
  • Attend orientation
    • You'll learn about available resources; create connections with faculty, admin, and peers; create a support system; and meet other transfer students adjusting to university life.
  • Get involved at the U—make it your “home”: meet friends + join clubs
    • However, don’t run yourself ragged with extracurricular activities; join a few clubs or activities but don’t overdo it. You're looking to build sustainable relationships, not just boost your resume.
  • Consider foreign exchanges, travel abroad, and volunteering; however, be aware of the costs attached to some of these programs.  
  • Learn to budget your money and always be on the lookout for scholarships.
#5: Know That Failure Isn't the End
  • It's an unfortunate truth, but compared to freshmen, you're going to have less time to experience things and become familiar with the U's environment
    • You need to become an active student and make sure to utilize the resources offered to you.
    • You’ll also have to grow up faster than freshmen—they have time to make mistakes, you don’t. Learn quickly and how to stay on your feet.
  • University isn't like high school or community college
    • Homework will be harder and require more from you.
    • Classroom sizes are different at the U (they may start out feeling "too big" or "too small").
    • You may bring with you certain expectations about how college “works”; however, colleges aren't one-size-fits-all.
  • Be wary of “transfer shock". This is a phenomenon shared by many transfer students, where they get overwhelmed and do poorly during their first semester, which leads to a reduction in their GPA
    • If you feel like you're going to fail a class, go speak to the instructor & your academic advisor ASAP.
    • If you do fail a class, don't let it set the tone for the rest of the semester. Reassess where you went wrong and look to the future, not the past. 
    • Don't be ashamed of feelings of loneliness or uneasiness or even failure. If you fail, it doesn't mean you don’t belong here or deserve to be a student at the U.
  • Take care of your mental (and physical) health
    • Consider taking a break/semester off from school if you feel it's needed.
  • You’re going to make mistakes.
  • You're going get bored and forget why you’re here. So, try new things and learn to live outside the “box”.


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