Midway through my third semester at Brandeis University, a private college just outside Boston, I decided to redirect my attention to local politics and journalism, as well as the academic coursework that goes along with it. As a native Houstonian, I decided that this University would be the ideal place for me, so I filled out an application to matriculate beginning the following spring — with about 12 hours to spare on the application process. I got accepted, immediately decided to transfer and completed all the requisite paperwork. My first day on campus, I wandered into the Texan office, and I never looked back. At least, that’s the press release version that I tell in pleasant conversation.
As an external transfer student, especially one matriculating in the spring rather than the fall, the University provided almost zero support or guidance. Luckily, many of my longtime childhood friends had attended the University since they were freshmen, so all my questions were answered. However, I cringe to think of what would have happened had I not been lucky enough to know people that helped me along the way.
Mid-year orientation for transfers like me was an optional, one-day session, as opposed to the several-day full immersion experienced by my peers. The individuals providing the information were kind and helpful, and the program was undoubtedly a positive experience, but there was just too much information to cover in a few hours for new students. Course requirements (University-wide or for one’s college) were never explained sufficiently, and even basic campus geography was not reviewed.
Accordingly, I was happy to hear that the Senate of College Councils has put together its first-ever Transfer Student Ad-Hoc Committee, which will hopefully work to mollify much of the confusion faced by transfer students, both internal and external.
Coming to a new university is stressful and overwhelming, but the feelings are only multiplied when it is one of the largest such institutions in the world. Freshmen receive the needed guidance for a transition into this unique environment, but those who show up a tad bit later — particularly in the middle of an academic year — should be extended the same opportunities. Whether that means a longer orientation or more specific information distributed electronically, I’m not completely sure. But the status quo is not working, so I look forward to whatever solutions this new committee may come up with.
Horwitz is a government junior from Houston.