UCSD, What About Transfer Students?

OpinionStaff Op-Ed

Erika Johnson/University Communications

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I often wonder if I had not taken the class Transfer Year Experience (TYE), would I have had any other resources to guide me through UC San Diego?

I transferred from Santa Monica College (SMC) to UCSD as a third year. I noticed as soon as I arrived at UCSD that SMC’s admissions and administration were much more dedicated to the success of their transfer students than UCSD was. At SMC, I had counseling and services on cost of UC living, lab courses, college application assistance, and a Transfer Admission Guarantee that ensured student success in being admitted into my colleges of choice. These workshops and services were filled with international students, out-of-state students, and locals that were now all a part of one community for transfer success. Granting accessibility to a support system made us transfers feel welcomed whenever we had more questions or needed more support in our journey at SMC.

UCSD instead offered me the opportunity of taking Transfer Year Experience (TYE), a course to introduce me to UCSD’s campus. The problem was that it was one course, and one class on its own is not enough to support a group of incoming students. Upon transferring, I had expectations of how I was going to be guided through the opportunities that UC life had to offer. I thought there would be hundreds of flyers welcoming me as a transfer, but I did not receive a single one. I was in search of information on workshops, fraternities, sororities, and even welcome centers that were dedicated to enhancing transfers experiences here at UCSD, socially and academically. When I didn’t see a flyer that pertained to me, I had to ask: where was the importance of transfer student involvement being advertised? Transfers only have two to three years to create a networking system with our future colleagues and faculty members. Our involvement is crucial, especially for  future letters of recommendation or job positions in our careers. And what about a flyer about outside San Diego attractions for older students’ interests?

When I didn’t see opportunities being presented to me, I wondered why UCSD invests money into hundreds and maybe even thousands of other fliers, which range from promoting STEM majors, other research or educational organizations on campus, and Panhellenic sororities and fraternities, to name a few, exposing freshman students to a network and support system, while transfers seem to be left out. To my discomfort, I find that transfers encounter the feeling of being ostracized from first years, partly due to the stigma freshmen may feel that they worked harder to get into UCSD than transfers did, which is not altogether true. I sense as a transfer student that I work just as hard, maybe even harder to get accepted into a four year institution. 

TYE’s description states that it offers “direct support and guidance to ease your transition to UC San Diego,” How could that possibly be true when TYE lasts only one  quarter? In taking TYE, I found that this experience was like any other class, a bunch of information thrown at me in a short period of time. You would have a quick-paced lecture on job preparation, resume building, etiquette within networking, and being goal-oriented. These skills would require more than fifty minutes to fix the trial and error of applying yourself the workforce. I also had other lectures on how to find organizations on campus, figuring out where to intern, and discussions on how to get active and more knowledgeable as a student. How much would I really retain from this experience? How would the professor teaching the course get to know each and every student’s personal needs, to help them with support?

The misconception that transfers will be guided to maximize their resources through TYE can derail UC San Diego from taking initiative to implement programs for incoming transfers. Statistics show that transfers make up approximately 53 percent of admitted students at UCSD, a great percentage of UC acceptance. Therefore, we transfers need more than one TYE course advertisement sent to us by mail. 

The resource centers I find on campus like the Cross Cultural Center, LGBT Resource Center, Women’s Center, Black Resource Center, and Raza Resource Centro don’t necessarily pertain to the information I feel transfers need. My best thinking for transfers was to find counseling about their experience on campus through CAPS, a psychological counseling center on UCSD’s campus that is supposed to help students with issues on student adjustment. However, I would prefer that CAPS be a last resort students feel they need for support, especially when just arriving into UC life. All students should feel assured about their new academic journeys, and having a foundation where transfers can go that is dedicated to their success on campus should be a priority for UCSD.

One option is to establish a Transfer Welcome Center that could be a foundation for transfer student resources, giving advice on how to get involved through volunteering, interning, and networking opportunities, as well as providing information on UC expenses, campus navigation maps, budgeting advice, study abroad programs, fraternities, sororities etc. Even though my experience as an incoming transfer has been complicated and questionable, I hope that UCSD will put in effort when welcoming the future 53 percent or more of transfer students of 2019 with efficiency. All students, including transfers, deserve to feel included and accepted.

Mikayle Lowery is a contributing writer for The Triton.