Transfer Students Experience Better Transition at the College

The first day of school is for many, exciting, anxiety inducing, or utterly dreadful. For years students are in the same boat, shuffling from parent drop off lines to crowded hallways that reek of adolescence, and eventually leaving their own cars to do the same shuffling into similarly crowded halls with similarly odd smells. The first day of college is panic inducing for many, frightening but also wildly unknown and invigorating. The first day of college for transfer students is quite different than the first day for a Freshman and the entire process can be extremely difficult.

The College of New Jersey recently implemented Welcome Week to include transfers, as it used to be solely incoming freshman students. Move in day for transfers was the same day as freshmen, and both groups were together from Thursday to Sunday this August, before the rest of the student body moved into their respective housing. The Griffin Program was started in 2015 at the College, to help transfer students with their transition to life on campus. The mentors were transfer, themselves, and can offer insight that is relevant to the transfer experience.

Olivia Grasing is a junior journalism major, and transferred from Sacred Heart University the second semester of her freshman year. She is one of several Griffin mentors that aid in the transition.

Grasing said she wanted to become a Griffin “to do for others what mine did for me.” Grasing also acknowledges the different experience that transfer students have from freshmen, and how the Griffin program caters to that different, but still important experience.

Transfers are different than freshmen — they have already been to college and are not new to the environment, the workload, etc”, Grasing said.

She thinks that the Griffin program in general is the biggest difference that the College has made in making the overall transition for transfer students as easy as possible.

The effectiveness of the Griffin program ultimately depends on the individual transfer student, but many who have taken part in the activities not only during Welcome Week, but in the optional events held later in the semester, find it to be helpful and necessary.

Junior Leah LaFerve transferred from community college, and had never lived on a college campus before. LaFerve and said the first day on campus was “really stressful”.

LaFerve said, “I was happy to be here but I wasn’t happy about the scheduling of welcome week. I barely got to say goodbye to my family because unpacking took so long and I had to go to a mandatory meeting.”

LaFerve believes that the Griffins are a “huge help” to the transition to living on campus, but she also thinks a lot of the events weren’t necessary. Still, she was “really excited to get the full college experience of dorm life”, and not having to worry about basic things like where to go for food or academic help, was really helpful, and all thanks to her Griffin.

For Sophomore journalism major Viki Ristanovic, choosing to go to school at the College was an easy decision.

“It’s the best public college in New Jersey and I love it…I’m really academically challenged here and am pushed to be the best I can be.”

For Ristanovic, Welcome Week was key in forming the relationships she has at school, and made she and her roommates “inseparable”. Among the events Ristanovic attended were the barbecue and volleyball game, which she says allowed her to meet people she “otherwise wouldn’t have met.”

Though Ristanovic didn’t find the Griffin program, specifically, to be helpful, she thinks Welcome Week laid the foundation for what was to come in the coming months and the experiences she would have.

Ristanovic said that the Griffins did prepare her for the workload, but it still “was hard to get adjusted and really understand what was expected of me academically”, though she finally feels as though she has found her footing.

The College aims to make life for transfer students as easy as possible, as it can feel odd to be a new student, yet already have a year or two of college classes under one’s belt. Ultimately, the Griffin program and the Welcome Week activities have been viewed relatively positively, though there is still room for improvement.

Junior Leah LaFerve with her Griffin Group at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

Chart showing the small amount of transfer students in comparison to the total undergrad population.

Video from TCNJ Welcome Week, produced by Kevin Walsh Jr. ’19 Tyler Law ’19 Andrew Cislak ’20.

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