Andrea Haick

Andrea, a transfer student at Towson University, studies genetics for an upcoming quiz.

“Let me see! I’m going to be a doctor,” Andrea Haick tells her roommates as she examines an oozing gash that one of them received from slamming their finger in the door.

Her roommates roll their eyes and say, “We know, we know.” This is a phrase they hear often.

From balancing a full course load to completely diving into the nursing program at Towson University, Haick’s first semester as a transfer student was completely different than expected, which she was warned about during her transfer orientation.

“I did extremely well in community college,” Haick said. “Even though they told us that most transfers don’t do well their first semester, I still thought it would be no different.”

Haick isn’t the only student who thought that transferring was the best option.

Haick transferred to Towson from Montgomery College in fall, 2013. With plans to attend medical school in the future, Andrea set out to receive the first degree of her college career at Towson.

“Towson’s nursing program is what I would consider notable,” she said. “I mean it is one of the top five programs students study at the university.”

Haick decided to transfer after completing most of her general education requirements at MC. While her years there were pretty successful, it was just time for her to move forward with her career. But between adjusting to a bigger campus, more activities and harder classwork, Haick struggled to stay focus.

“I would come home knowing I had homework and then one of my roommates would say ‘Hey there’s a basketball game tonight. Wanna go?’ and of course I would say yes because we didn’t have that at MC. I wanted to take in every experience that I could.”

Activities weren’t her only distraction. Haick started working for Play Centers Inc. to continue receiving experience working with children and pay bills. With such a full schedule it is no wonder she didn’t put her all into every single one of her classes. They didn’t seem much harder in the sense of the course load but now she was dealing with information she needed for future knowledge rather than just a general requirement.

“I was a full-time student at MC but going from Bio 101 there to a 200/300 level chemistry or genetics here was a big jump. The information was way more in depth and not something that could count as a refresher.”

* * *

How is a student to prepare for these changes? Learning to manage time is one big step but it goes deeper. Overall, students have to learn to take advantage of the programs put in place for them by their university.

According to transferweb.com, as of 2010, there were about 1,971 transfer students at Towson University. Additionally, 1 in 3 college students transfer at some point in their career according to an article in the New York Times.

At Towson, the New Student Programs office is always available to help students with the application process and the transition to a new school. Megan Cronhardt, a transfer student and the student director for the transfer program, understands how transfer students feel when they begin their first semester.

“Especially coming in between semesters was hard,” Cronhardt said. “All the other freshmen kind of found their niche and their groups of friends.”

Students should make note of the application deadline for each school they are applying to, she said. Towson University’s fall 2014 application deadline has already passed, but applications are still being accepted on a case-by-case basis according to the school’s website.

In order to apply to transfer to Towson, students must submit their transcripts, their standardized test scores and an essay on the topic of their choice.

Once students are accepted, they attend the Transfer Program, an orientation program for new students led by the New Student Programs Office.

To help transfer students better acclimate, Cronhardt organizes the Transfer Orientation Assistants. The student leaders advise incoming transfer students by giving them tours of the campus, helping them get their OneCard and finalizing their schedule.

Cronhardt always encourages new student transfers to never turn down an invitation. It is important that new students get involved in the campus community, she said.

“Transferring was the best decision I had ever made,” Cronhardt said. “Because of what had come from transferring, all of these great opportunities, when I look at what has gone on it’s like none of this could have happened if I stayed where I was, if I didn’t come to Towson.”

* * *

Transferring to a new college can dramatically change the college career of a student. Starting out may be hard, but as Cronhardt has demonstrated, it all pays off in the end.

For Laura Abrams, a new transfer student to Towson University, coming to a new college was as exciting as it was nerve wrecking.

Getting around a campus is hard enough, but it’s easy to get lost if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. It’s even easier to get lost in the shuffle of students coming in and out of Towson University’s Cook Library.

Abrams is among the droves of students coming in and out of Cook Library. Between the chaos that is the library as classes change and an overwhelming feeling of uncertainness, she timidly walks into the main floor of the library.

Not recognizing her surroundings, she makes a beeline for an empty table in the group work section of the library.

“I basically sat in the library for four hours between my classes because I didn’t know where to go,” she said.

Although she was nervous, she had been waiting a long time for this day. She had waited for 8 weeks to hear back from the Towson University Admissions Office.

“I was so excited when I got my letter,” Abrams said. “I can’t wait to finish.”

This isn’t her first time at college, but Abrams, like other transfer students, is finding it hard to adjust to a new campus. Her previous school, Shepherd University, located in West Virginia, only has about 4,000 students compared to Towson’s 22,000 students.

“Now I’m a commuter and its such a big school,” she said. “I’m on campus all day long and I don’t have the option to go home whenever I want to in between classes. It’s a big difference.”

* * *

Despite the struggle a transfer student is expected to endure, universities have programs put in place that aid the students in a successful transition. In addition to receiving an academic adviser upon acceptance into Towson, transfer students are required to attend transfer orientation.

New Student Programs at Towson also created a “Transfer Student To-Do List” with deadlines and information that the student should complete before starting classes. One of the items on the suggested to-do list is getting acquainted with the student organizations that are on campus with the idea that this will help a student’s transition become much smoother. Cronhardt did just that and became involved in Greek life.

“After a few weeks things got a little bit better, because I went through recruitment and found a sorority that I fit in,” Cronhardt said. “It all worked out in the end.”

Schools in the state of Maryland also participate in a program that makes it easier for students to transfer from a state community college to a 4-year institution in the state. “Artsys,” an online database, helps students understand what credits transfer to which universities. The website can also help a student who plans to take classes at a community college during semester break understand which class it translates to at their university.

* * *

While Abrams is focusing on making her transition a smooth one, Haick is focusing on making this semester better than the last.

“I definitely want to do better this semester than I did last semester,” Haick said. “I was nowhere near ready for everything but now that I have adjusted, I know if I focus I can do way better than I did my first semester.”

While Abrams has to wait in the library between classes, Haick chooses to also spend her time in the library studying class lectures and completing homework.

“I’m not really here to socialize,” Abrams said. “I went through all of that at my last college. Now I’m just kind of ready to study and be in school.”

The balancing act that most students face during their first year has come back full circle for both of these juniors. Although they have both come from different types of schools, both stories share similar aspects with Cronhardt’s. These three students are all about a year away from graduation but still manage to go about it in a different way.

“My roommate was really great,” Cronhardt said. “She was a year older then me and sort of took me under her wing and introduced me to her friends. There’s definitely an adjustment period, but after a few weeks it got better.”

By cutting out as much socializing as possible, Abrams is already one step ahead of where Haick and Cronhardt were when they originally transferred. It allows her to be able to focus on only being at Towson as long as she needs to instead of adding on extra years like most college students do.

Haick on the other hand, may not be cutting out socializing completely but she knows what it takes to be successful in classes at Towson. Based on her experiences last semester, she can adequately manage her time between school, work, on-campus organizations and her friends.

“I was really bad at time management,” Haick said. “But now I’ve realized that in order to graduate I need to focus more on my studies. I’ve also learned that sometimes heading to the library to do homework can help me get better results because I have less distractions there.”

Haick dedicates two hours to studying in the library Monday through Thursday, something she didn’t do last semester. And even though we are only a month into school, this is a habit she plans to continue throughout the semester and the rest of her time here at Towson.

“In the beginning, I was at the library all of the time but then I fell off. This semester there is no falling off! I changed my major from nursing to biology so I’m determined not to repeat what happened last semester and to get out of here within the next year. No one wants to be in school forever,” Haick said with a laugh.

After taking a semester off of school, Abrams is still getting back into the school mode. Like Haick, she is planning to spend most of her time in the library and focus on graduating.

“I get a lot more work done than I did at my other school,” Abrams said. “Its good to have such a big area and so many places to go to study.”

As Haick finished wrapping up the wound her roommate received with an oversized bandage. She grabs her chemistry book to get ready to study for her genetics class.

“Transferring wasn’t always in my plan but as long as the outcome is still me becoming a doctor, the steps don’t matter.”

* * *

One thought on “Transfer Students Struggling to Transition

  1. Pingback: Vote now: the semester’s best stories | Hidden Baltimore

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