Transfer Shock!

According to some of the research about school transfers, job transfers, and other transitions, many of us confront an unexpected period of adjustment referred to as “Transfer Shock.” For transfer students, this is quite distinct from the freshman experience. Most transfer students have already learned to navigate undergraduate life and feel comfortable with it. The adjustment derives from expectations and assumptions from a previous school, that might not hold true at the new institution. This can result in frequent judgments and comparisons with prior experiences, which sometimes delay the acclimation process. A student may reevaluate whether transfer was the correct decision and reassess academic and professional goals based on new opportunities. Transfer shock usually materializes in the middle of the semester. The first weeks of the semester often feel familiar enough, but institutional differences become more salient later. Transfer students may feel “behind the curve.”

Fortunately, we can assure you that transfer shock is temporary. It just requires some patience. If we accomplish our goals as educators, your identification as a “transfer student” should dissipate during the first semester, and you should feel much more like an integrated member of the learning community. We value our transfer students' contributions immensely, which include leadership in student clubs, academic research with faculty mentors, and even graduation speeches. And we have no doubts that you can have a successful experience at Lang!

In the meantime, how can you alleviate the transfer shock? We have a few suggestions below. Although you may feel overwhelmed at times, be confident that academic advisors and faculty are a useful resource at your disposal.

  • Acknowledge any transfer requires some time to feel comfortable, and be tolerant with yourself during the transition.
  • Introduce yourself to other students and faculty, and engage yourself in relevant activities and projects. This should facilitate new relationships for you, establish a local support network, and reinforce a sense of belonging.
  • Explore the institution to learn more about available resources and services. It’s important to learn how to navigate your new institution, so never hesitate to ask questions. Remember, even seniors have questions from time to time.
  • Be diligent about your academic responsibilities. Since your previous GPA does not transfer with you, remember to attend all your classes and request assistance from the professor if needed. If you fall behind schedule with class assignments, it may exacerbate other transitional concerns. The New School has numerous academic support services available.