Thinking about Transferring Schools? Here's how to make a seamless transition.

Transferring schools is a common, albeit terrifying experience. At least, that’s how it seemed to me before I began the process. Community college was my safety bubble. Close enough to commute, ample parking (well, sometimes), small classes, and a navigable campus. Safe. Small. Comfortable. 

I’d been to a four-year college in the past but only stayed for a semester. It was a small liberal arts school, so it still had aspects that made me feel comfortable. I stayed in my shell, just how I preferred it. While I liked being a big fish in a small ocean, I knew that my skills were being stifled. I was missing out on opportunities just to avoid the unsettling feeling of anxiety. It was for this reason, plus several others, that I turned to community college. 

I spent the next few years taking a handful of classes each semester with a few breaks here and there. I enjoyed my classes, but I wasn’t connected to the community at all. That is, until I started taking courses for my major, Mass Communications. I loved learning more about my areas of interest and finally felt motivated to seek out more opportunities. After declaring to myself that I’d try to be more involved, I received an email about a transfer program for students considering Virginia Commonwealth University. Taking the plunge and signing up for an information session was difficult—after all, my shell was safe and comfortable.

A Gateway to Opportunities

Thankfully, my newfound excitement from my major classes and my wonderful professor gave me the little push that I needed. Through the transfer program, I was able to ask any and all questions that I had about transferring. I created multiple ePorfolios and attended virtual panels where I had the opportunity to connect with professionals in my field of study. Most importantly, in speaking with other students during our weekly Zoom meetings, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was terrified of parallel parking or worried about not making any friends. 

Not only did this program give me guidance on the transfer process, but it also gave me an introduction to social media. I’ve had a few Instagram accounts over the years (like, three different ones for my dogs), but this was my first opportunity to work on a professional account. Eager to gain experience, I reached out to one of the transfer coordinators and asked to help out with their Instagram and Facebook, which they use to advertise events and information about the program and colleges. I researched post ideas, created images in Canva, wrote the captions, and communicated with staff and faculty at various colleges. 

The next semester I began a social media internship with SOAR365, a local non-profit that works with people with disabilities. I attribute this achievement to the transfer program, since that’s how I connected with the Career and Internship Coordinator, who informed me about this opportunity. Since then, she has continued to send me opportunities that she thinks would be a good fit for me, including writing this very article! None of these opportunities would’ve happened if I hadn’t taken advantage of the resources presented to me through the transfer program. 

I am now in my first semester at VCU as a fully-online student. Although being online takes away many of the fears that I had (I’ll tackle parallel parking later), I still count my transfer experience as a success. Thus, I’d like to share some tips to make the transfer process as seamless as possible: 

Meet regularly with your advisor 

My advisor was extremely helpful and supportive. She went over different major options with me and recommended several schools to consider. They’re there to help you, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Email, email, email 

Community colleges want you to transfer to a four-year, and four-years want you to transfer to them. If you have questions about a specific program, email the director. If you have general transfer questions, there should be an email specifically for transfer students. 

Check course equivalencies 

Some classes sound similar but don’t count for the same credit. I found it helpful to bookmark the course equivalency pages for each college that I was considering so that I could easily refer to it when registering for classes or evaluating my progress. And, as mentioned before, don’t be afraid to reach out to staff with questions about specific courses.

Get involved 

For me, joining a transfer program and reaching out to staff at VCU was how I got involved. But this could also include joining clubs and group chats, posting on school forums, or going on an official campus tour.

About the author: Lily Rose Beck is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Mass Communications (B.S.) with a concentration in Public Relations.