The transition from high school to college is an exciting, unnerving experience. Incoming freshmen can relate to the cliche analogy, “Small fish in a big pond.” As a post-transfer student, I can also relate.
I previously attended Western Illinois University in Macomb. In that time, I had not only become comfortably accustomed to my surroundings but I was also actively involved in school and the community. When I decided to take the next step in my college career and transfer to another school, it was only natural for several fears to come into mind.
My primary concerns included my questionable ability to maneuver around a much larger campus, being able to connect with a vast student body and community and the resources available specifically to transfer students.
The ability to find my way around campus was put to the test immediately upon my arrival. I had been given a tour of the campus during orientation, but still had no idea where to find anything. The only part of campus that I remembered from the tour was “Lovers’ Lane.” And that wouldn’t help me find my math lab. I did make use of the handy dandy map that was given to me.
The fact I’m also a commuter student meant I had to figure out the parking situation. My first experience parking on this campus was everything but easy. Two words: parking garage. Don’t misunderstand me, I grew up in Chicago and I know what they are, but the parking garage on this campus is one scary ride. It’s filled with too many college students in a rush. Luckily I’ve only been hit once, because the close calls have been abundant.
Despite my unpleasant brush in the parking garage, my other experiences with students on this campus have been warm and welcoming. I made it a mission to meet at least one new person in each of my classes, and so far it hasn’t backfired on me. I’ve also met people through different organizations, so we share similar interests. The connections I’ve been making have helped not only with the difficult transition, but also in helping me find my place on this campus.
It is officially spring (sort of), and finals are just around the corner. My first year at NIU is coming to an end. I have been through a whirlwind of emotions this past year. I’ve gone from confusion to regret, and somehow, in the midst of everything, arrived at a place of contentment.
My advice to fellow transfer students whom have yet to find their rhythm: Do not be afraid to get lost; it is how we learn our way around. I still manage to get myself lost in DuSable Hall. Reach out to your peers in and out of class. Almost every person I have come in contact with on this campus has been courteous and more than willing to help me out.
The biggest tidbit I have to offer is to not stress yourself out. Just remember you are familiar with the college scene, so you’re already ahead of the game. Best of luck.