Committing to transferring schools is a big decision: Something wasn’t quite right at your previous school, you put in the work to apply to colleges again, and you got in. Congratulations! Successfully undergoing the transfer application process is no small feat, and actively making a big change for yourself is to be commended.
You belong here.
Transferring to a university known for its academic intensity can seem intimidating, so it’s important to remember that you are wholly capable and competent. The admissions offices know what they’re doing, and they admitted you because your profile demonstrated your ability to not only keep up but also excel here. The transfer admissions rate is around the same as the regular admissions rate, so enter campus with confidence! You belong here! Barack Obama was a transfer student to Columbia, and Margaret Mead transferred to Barnard—so you are on a path followed by some pretty notable people.
Lean into NSOP.
You’ve probably already sat through some sort of college orientation program, and the thought of going through a second one is definitely not the most exciting. However, attending the New Student Orientation Program is pretty key to making your transition a smooth one. Despite being lectured about fire safety and participating in forced icebreaker activities yet again, this is the time when you will meet fellow transfers and get to ask your orientation leader any questions you may have. Your orientation leaders will most likely be students who transferred in previous years, and they are trained and prepared to help you! Use them as a resource and bother them with your questions and concerns; they volunteered specifically to make this transition as positive for you as it was for them. They can advise you about the best dining hall, class registration strategies, the social scene, and clubs that might be a good fit for you! The transfer-specific programs are especially helpful, and getting to know your peers will help you feel more comfortable and prepared before classes start and campus fills up. Most transfers find it easy to make friendships with their transfer peers because you can relate to the shared experience of disliking a prior college experience and putting in the effort to change schools.
A common worry for transfer students is that they’ll have trouble assimilating socially. The truth is you aren’t as out of the loop as you think you are. The Columbia and Barnard social scene tends to revolve around club-based activities, so getting involved in on-campus extracurriculars makes meeting people and making friends pretty easy. The key is to put yourself out there and sign up for many clubs. Be sure to attend the club fair, and give your UNI (that’s your new university email ID) to any and every organization that catches your attention. Before even getting on campus, familiarize yourself with the various activities at Columbia and Barnard on their respective websites to give yourself an idea of what you might be interested in. People are always looking to make new friends, so don’t feel limited by the fact that you’re a transfer. Be active, involved, and open-minded!
Learn from your previous college experience.
You decided to transfer for a reason. Reflecting on this and learning from your prior experience can be instrumental in making this new experience a great one. Whether your transfer decision was related to social, academic, extracurricular, and/or logistical reasons, taking the time to pinpoint what went wrong is important. Although the new environment is likely to make this second attempt at college a better one, improvement also comes from within. Learn from your past and resolve to shift your attitude or behavior to be successful here.
Transferring here is truly an exciting opportunity, and there’s so much in store for you. Welcome to Columbia and Barnard!