For new transfer students, the process of transitioning from a community college to a university can be overwhelming because they need to adjust to a new school system.
Many students arrive early to find a parking spot, locate their classes on time and attempt to process what needs to be accomplished over the course of the semester.
Frances Cacho, 22, a kinesiology major, transferred from Mt. San Antonio College and wandered around campus with a “big-eyed deer look” during her first day at Cal State Fullerton.
“My first day was almost that (of) when you go from junior high to high school and you’re like, ‘I’m in the big school now,’” said Cacho.
Cacho said she noticed a difference in the quality of professors during her first year at CSUF.
The professors are teaching in their field of study and that’s their passion, Cacho said.
Another transfer student, Shayla Ragone, a senior in graphic design, felt like “a small fish in a big pond” on her first day on campus, but to this day remembers her very first class: history of jazz.
“Once you finally get there (to the university) it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve achieved part of my plan, now let’s achieve the other half,’” said Ragone.
For Ragone, the biggest difference between a community college and a university was the type of people that attended each school.
She said the students at her community college, MiraCosta College, were generally older and kept more to themselves, while students at CSUF are more “cliquey” and community-based.
Ragone said she is excited to finish her degree at CSUF after nine years of being in both schools.
Many transfer students deal with the anxiety of getting used to another campus, new professors and meeting new people, after the initial excitement of being closer to the finish line of graduation wears off.
New transfer students can take advantage of the many opportunities CSUF provides to feel more comfortable at their new home for the next couple of years, such as joining a club or becoming a part of student organizations.
Cacho said she utilized the student tours and was able to navigate her way through campus.
She also joined the largest organization for women at CSUF, the Panhellenic Council during her first year at CSUF and is now the vice president of judicial affairs.
She said her experience with the council helped her make new friends and build herself up as a student leader.
Getting involved on campus was a huge help in adjusting to a new school, Cacho said.
“You end up meeting people who can help you with that transition and you end up meeting people who have been here for a couple of years or other transfer students that might know things that you haven’t figured out yet,” Cacho said.
Sometimes transfer students find they need to get information on their own in order to adjust successfully.
Ragone said she knew before arriving at CSUF the importance of seeking information about the transfer process.
She decided to take matters into her own hands by getting information on financial aid and made sure she was accepted.
Ragone said she felt empowered by all of the knowledge she gained.
Another way transfer students can easily adjust to their new campus is through visiting the Transfer Center.
The center provides students with the opportunity to become familiar with CSUF before and during their university experience.
Robert Perez, a peer advisor for the Transfer Center, assists students who are going through the process of transferring by using the Next Steps checklist.
The list includes attending student orientation, paying fees and meeting with advisors.
He said transfer students are strongly encouraged to meet with academic advisors and get involved with the school to make sure they have the best experience at CSUF.
“It’s completely up to them what their college experience will be and they have tremendous power in creating that,” said Perez.
The Transfer Center answers any questions students have about transferring and is also there for all sorts of support.
“We reinforce the accomplishment of what they’ve done,” Perez said.
Looking back, Ragone said she missed her friends who went off to a four-year college after high school, but appreciates how much she has matured at CSUF.
Ragone advised new transfer students to seek help and use professors as a resource.
“Instead of looking at them as teachers, look at them more as a role model in something that you strive to do,” Ragone said.