Transfer students tackle tough transitions

by Beacon Staff • January 30, 2008

For transfer students, the beginning of the semester can be especially daunting. They are entering an entirely new environment, after already going through the process of making new friends and leaving home once before. Besides all of the veteran concerns, they are wonder about living arrangements, credit transfers and social acceptance.

In such cases, it is the job of the Orientation Core Staff and the Student Life office to assist the students in their transition. "We offer specific sessions for transfers during our program, such as 'Transfer Transitions with Academic Advising' and the 'Off-Campus Student Social.'" Undergraduate Orientation Chair Kyle MacDonald said in an e-mail to The Beacon, "However, transfer students are encouraged to attend all other programs and find out what makes Emerson such a great place to be."

One sophomore transfer from the University of New Hampshire, Matt Greenglass, said that the Orientation process was helpful to him in meeting other transfers and incoming freshmen, but he wishes there was a way to more easily interact with the returning students.

"I'm pretty outgoing," the broadcast journalism major said, but added, "I haven't really gotten close to people who were already here."

According to statistics from the Office of Undergraduate Admission, 36 percent of transfers who applied were accepted and 130, a little over half, arrived at the start of the spring semester.

Emerson accepts transfers from both four-year colleges and two-year community colleges with anywhere from a semester of college experience to an associates degree.

Greenglass said he chose Emerson both for its more "artsy" crowd and the opportunities and creativity it provided.

"The school is incredible for networking," he explained, but said that he has had to adjust to the differences in the personalities of the students here as opposed to those at UNH. He said the level of talent at Emerson is something he has to get used to but that it is also beneficial because it challenges him to elevate his own level of creativity.

That ingenuity seems to be a big draw for the college as a whole. Another sophomore transfer, Sam Kusek, said that is what piqued his interest in Emerson. "I chose Emerson because of its location in the city and the creative aura it puts out," the marketing communication major, who transferred here in the fall of 2007 from Curry College, said in an e-mail to The Beacon. "You can literally do anything here and that is what attracted me to it."

Kusek also agreed with Greenglass that the Orientation process had its upsides and downsides and did not completely integrate them into the community. "I constantly felt outcast amongst freshman as I lived off campus," he said. "Orientation provided transfer specific activities that we were able to take part in."

Of course, for both students, the transfer process itself was not always easy. For Greenglass, the biggest problem was that one of his credits didn't transfer.

According to Emerson's Academic Advising Center website, "Transfer credit is granted for comparable course work completed at an accredited two- and four-year institution with a grade of C or better."

Kusek was frustrated with a similar problem with transferring his credits. "Some of [my] credits didn't transfer over which sucks that Emerson can say no to the hard work you've put into the previous years."

He had less trouble, however, with the transfer process as a whole. "I had a good experience when it came to getting all the right things in order," he said. "Emerson required me to send transcripts from Curry and high school and attach a resume of my activities as well as professional work. They helped me by providing all of the forms we needed to use but other than that, it was a very do it yourself kind of process."

Unfortunately for Kusek, per the college policy, which does not guarantee housing for transfer students, he did not receive on-campus housing.

"The hardest part of being a transfer is probably the living off campus and the detachment from other students because of it," he said. He was pleased, however, with the assistance that was given to transfer students who required off-campus housing, in the form of a seminar where transfer students looking for off-campus roommates could meet each other.

"Depending upon availability, some transfer students who enter in January might be offered housing on a first-come, first-serve basis." said Director of Housing and Residence Life David Haden, "However, space is generally not available in the fall to offer housing to transfer students."

There is a possible dorm of gold at the end of the rainbow for future transfer students, though.

"When the Paramount Center and Colonial Buildings open as residence halls in Fall 2009, I do anticipate that we will be able to meet the housing needs of transfer students," Haden said.

Until then, transfer students, especially those living off-campus may feel overwhelmed at the thought of integrating into the whirlwind of life at Emerson. For those students, Associate Dean of Students Sharon Duffy has some advice.

"Get involved in student clubs and organizations to help meet others with common interests and goals," Duffy said in an e-mail to The Beacon. "Ask for help...manage your time well, take care of yourself and take advantage of every opportunity Emerson and the City of Boston have to offer."

Kusek, having already made it successfully through his first semester as a transfer at Emerson, agrees.

"Just get out and be involved," he said. "Really make yourself known to the community. Get your foot in the door socially and that will open up a lot of other things for you."