Making friends as a transfer student
August 24, 2017
Every fall, incoming freshmen are bombarded with activities geared toward easing the transition to college, but another group of new students can sometimes feel a little out of the loop. Transfer students come from both junior colleges and other four-year universities to begin their studies at the University of Illinois. This can bring a separate list of adjustments that do not apply to incoming freshmen. While transfer students do have orientation and new student programs, it can seem difficult to make friends when you are not 18 and fresh out of high school, like most of the other new students.
While I’m not a transfer student myself, I have known quite a few transfer students within the College of Engineering in my years at Illinois. I know that transferring to such a large and competitive school can be extremely stressful, and the last thing these students need is the added stress of making a new group of friends.
Transfer students sort of skip the underage-and-can’t-go-to-bars phase of their time at this school. They don’t have the pleasure of witnessing sad dorm parties and failed attempts to have a good time at frat houses, so I think it can be difficult to find your niche if you aren’t forced to go through the typical freshman and sophomore experience.
Some transfer students come to the University already knowing other students and find an apartment with them. Others live in the dorms, especially in the Transfer Cluster in Scott Hall. There’s no question about it: Dorms are the easiest and most efficient way to ensure you make friends, at least at the most preliminary level.
If you’re living in a dorm and are a few years older than your surrounding roommates and floormates, find that balance between being the cool older friend and the jerk who doesn’t care about freshmen. If you grow and experience all that this school has to offer with a group of younger friends, you really won’t miss out on anything.
However, it’s still important to make friends outside of the dorms; having friends your age increases the likelihood they will be in your upper-level classes and will be able to sympathize with the stresses you’re going through.
This can be accomplished through RSOs and campus groups, especially those targeted to transfer students. For example, the Transfer Advisory Group (TAG) is an RSO led by transfer students to help new transfer students get adjusted to campus. Even if you already know other University students, getting involved in something you are interested in will help the University feel more like home.
I think the best way to get yourself socialized at Illinois is to start small and grow larger over time. Start by making friends in your dorm, then move on to peers and classmates in your college and then finally interact and mingle with students throughout the whole University.
Bercham is a junior in Engineering.