Opinion | How to ‘Roc’ the semester as a transfer Panther

By Ashanti McLaurin, Staff Columnist

Dear scared and nervous transfer student, 

Being a transfer student has its pros and cons — it can feel scary, lonely and like you have to reintroduce yourself all over again. But it can also make you more extroverted, adventurous and help you build new relationships.

As a person who transferred my sophomore year of college during a pandemic, I can tell you it has been a challenge, but I think I have enough experience to help you navigate your first semester. 

This is Ashanti’s “Four B’s” Transfer Survival Guide to ensure that your transfer year isn’t dull and you have a successful first year at Pitt.

Become involved with campus life

As a transfer student, it can be very hard to make friends. It can feel like everyone has established their friend group when you first walk onto campus, but everyone is open to including someone new in their life. By being yourself, you will attract people who match your personality and values. I know I struggled to make friends, but connecting with my classmates and hanging out with my roommates made me realize that everyone is still open to meeting new people.

Joining extracurricular activities like sports or clubs that match your interests and hobbies is a good start. If you like art, join Pitt’s Level B Studios, if you want to live out your Robin Hood fantasies, join the Archery Club or if you like looking out for people, join Student Government Board.

I major in English so I made it my mission to join The Pitt News. I love to cheer so I made sure to try out for the Pitt cheerleading team — spoiler alert, I made the team. Don’t be afraid to try something new or revisit something old. 

Build bonds with your advisor and professors

When I first started classes at Pitt last fall, I was wondering how I would form any type of bond with my professors, advisers or faculty from my department, especially starting my first year on Zoom. It was a struggle thinking, “How am I going to make a good first impression to my professors and advisers properly if I’m never going to meet them in person?” 

I received good advice and positive energy from my department advisers after talking with them about graduation, my major and my future career path and goals. Take charge in your college career and make sure you and your adviser have an understanding about what you want to do in life.

I still keep in touch with a few of my professors from this past year — my two nonfiction writing professors and my Chinese language professor. I was able to build a bond with each one of them in and outside of the classroom.  

Be open to try new things 

Transferring schools is all about being in a different environment physically and academically. I never thought I would take Mandarin Chinese then minor in it, or take an African American Lit class then minor in Africana Studies. If you want to be a part of organizations and sports teams you never thought about trying or even heard of, Pitt has a variety of clubs and organizations that will fit what you like.

Be satisfied that you transferred schools

Don’t feel bad for leaving your old college or university. According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, more than a third of students transfer at least once. It can be different and nerve-racking to stray away from the friends you made at your previous college or be away from your family, but those reasons shouldn’t stop you from regretting your choice to transfer to your dream school. 

I stayed in my home state my first year of college — most people from my high school were there, so I didn’t feel out of place. Though I liked my former college, I felt the program I was in didn’t match my needs and desires. Now as a junior here at Pitt, I’m glad I made the decision to transfer. 

For most people, there are four years in your undergrad college life to make memories, work toward your career choice and have fun. Transferring colleges is all about you and if you take these four B’s and apply it when you first step onto your new college campus, your transfer year will make you realize why it was worth it. 


Your certified transfer advice mentor

P.S. I’m still using this survival guide for myself, so don’t worry if you feel like the new kid again.

Ashanti McLaurin primarily writes about Black culture, human injustices and gives life advice. Write to her at [email protected].