Transfer students may feel out of place without mentor
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 19:09
It had been two weeks since I started here at Delaware before I decided it was time I mount the steps to the library. I needed to print some homework and I had to fill out some financial aid paperwork in transferring it from my previous school.
I had always gone to the University of Pittsburgh’s library to complete odd tasks and my homework. After printing paperwork on the first floor, I would spend my afternoons on the fourth floor of the library, holed up in a desk by a window overlooking a street corner. It was time to find my place in this library.
But when I walked in, I suddenly realized how very different libraries could be. There had never been any gates to enter at Pitt. There was not a reference desk in the center of the first floor. There were computers around, but I didn’t see the printers. Wasn’t there some sort of computer lab somewhere?
I timidly approached the circular desk in the center of the room. I asked the gentleman wearing a sweater vest behind the desk where I could print some of my homework. He thoughtfully answered my question, saying that the best place to print would be downstairs in the media center. There was only one problem, where were the stairs?
My experience with the library was only one of many new processes I did not understand. When I transferred from Pitt, I figured it would not be that different. Both were colleges after all. But, I was wrong. I needed help. I needed a checklist and I needed a mentor.
Every school is concerned with reducing the stress freshmen transitioning from high school to college, and rightfully so, as new students often feel overwhelmed and lost in a new environment. For students who choose to transfer from one university to another, however, it is expected that they will quickly adapt since they understand the work expected of them. I believed this, too, until I became one of those students.
When I transferred here, I felt overwhelmed. It was impossible to figure the different processes out by myself, whether they were administrative or related to student life. I also was told that I would not be provided with an advisor until three weeks after the start of school, meaning I would have to figure these procedures out on my own.
Last week, I got a notification that I had to submit my immunization records to the Student Health Center. The following day, I came down with a sickness, and I did not know where thehealth center was. In the summer, I had to get 19 of the 20 courses I had taken at Pitt re-evaluated for credit. After poring through the registrar’s website, I was able to get the job done. At the end of the summer, I was notified that I had to complete the AlcoholEdu course that only added to my frustration—I completed a similar course two years prior at Pitt.
When I was offered admission to UD, I should have received a checklist of all the things I would need to complete in order to ensure my success and health at the university instead of getting emails from different university departments asking for an item every week since I accepted admission. This should be provided along with a peer mentor, who will help transfer students navigate certain institutions, like the library or the health center.
The university does offer a New Student Orientation for accepted students. However, there was only one orientation left by the time I was offered admission for the upcoming semester and it was the next day. Luckily, I realized I could make it. I called the admissions office where I was told that it was too late to register.
A few weeks later, a letter was sent to students who missed the previous orientations to come for a last-minute one. Unfortunately, I was working this day. Like many other students, my ability to work is important to financing my education; missing work was simply not an option.
Whether or not a transfer student attends this New Student Orientation, the student should be introduced to a peer mentor for the first three weeks of school. This mentor should be required to meet with the student at least weekly for however much time the student needs to show them around the campus.
Instead of emailing, calling or running to different departments, I could check off items on a centralized list. Instead of fearing venturing into unknown buildings, I could contact one person to help ease the transition. The university can and should make the transferring process easier by centralizing its’ important departments.
In the meantime, I will keep looking for my fourth floor corner seat in the library.