Transfer students struggle to fit in at Butler

By Taylor Powell

Day one: You move into your new dorm as a freshman in college. By the time you are halfway unpacked, you are pushing your parents out the door, locking it and never looking back.

Day two: You are swimming in freedom with no parents, no rules and no worries.

Day three: You meet a few new people during orientation. Things seem to just be going okay.

Day too many to count: You want out.

When arriving at college, the thought may never cross your mind that you might not like the school you have chosen to attend. I had no idea, upon leaving for summer break last year, I would never return. There are thousands of colleges in this country, and you are truly rolling the dice when choosing the perfect school.

Changing colleges is hard, and the best ways to get settled are by finding friends, resources and feeling welcome at your new university. A multi-day transfer student orientation and those dreaded organized activities are essential to making a college your new home.

Here at Butler, freshmen and transfer students usually move in four days before classes begin. This year new students participated in a number of resource fairs, panels and, of course, convocation. Transfer students were not required to take part in an orientation group or to be present at Welcome Week events like “The Quest” or “Student Life at Butler” presentation.

The only events mandatory for transfer students were Butler University Convocation, “Butler Remix,” and college and departmental meetings. According to Emily Burke, Butler Associate Director LRC, the Remix is the official transfer orientation during Welcome Week.

In my opinion, The Remix was not quite enough.

The Remix was highly informative and helpful. However, more than one uniquely designed transfer student activity could help for an easier transition. In past years, Butler has utilized more panels and breakout sessions that, I think, should be tried again. This time students would need to attend in order to make the multi-day orientation successful.

Three additional events were not required yet transfer-specific, like the “Transfer Student Dessert Reception,” “New Student Photo” and “‘Fuel Up For Block Party’ Transfer Student Dinner,” Hardly any of the approximately 58 new transfer students attended these events.

“I do wish that more transfer students had shown up to the transfer events, but that isn’t the school’s fault,” said Amanda Sabel, a transfer junior from Santa Monica College in Los Angeles.

The school is not to blame for whether or not transfer students show up to events. Administrators like Burke work tirelessly to make transfer students comfortable, and she also makes herself available to students the entire year. However, more mandatory activities to supplement the Remix would have made finding more upperclassmen friends during Welcome Week easier.

As a transfer student myself, I greatly appreciated the administrators who organized specific transfer student events and took the time to make me comfortable and confident in my decision to come to Butler. However, I could not help but feel a little bit out of the loop and the odd man out.

Upon arriving at the resource tent, I was handed a shirt that read “Class of 2017.” Though I cannot guarantee that I will graduate by 2016, I would have appreciated even an old Welcome Week T-shirt with my true class year.

During convocation, I was ushered by orientation leaders into a new student photo I really did not want to be included in. I was again recognized and addressed as a freshman.

If transfer students had a longer orientation with activities unique for upperclassmen, meeting new people and even friends would have been easier. Welcome Week is a pivotal time since new students often meet some of their permanent friends during those first few days. When thrown into a group of returning students, finding where one fits in is hard. Most upperclassmen have already found their group of good friends and are not always in a hurry to add anyone else. Meanwhile, freshmen are already bonding, simply because they are freshmen.

If it is not efficient for Butler to hold a multi-day transfer student orientation again, perhaps more student catch-ups or even a transfer student mentor program could be beneficial to those that need one after classes have begun.

“What I wish for is some events specifically for transfer students during the first few months of school,” said Sabel. “It would be nice to hang out with other people who understand the transition can be difficult.”

As upperclassmen, we have already finished our rite of passage. New to the school or not, we will never be freshmen again.

However, being the new kid is always hard, even for the outspoken extrovert like me.

So now, will somebody please sit with me at lunch?

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