Transfer students share experiences and frustrations coming to AU

While many have had positive experiences, they say more support from the University is needed

Transfer students share experiences and frustrations coming to AU

As students near the end of the fall semester, transfer students reflect on the successes and challenges of adjusting to American University life, particularly those where they feel there is little support.

Since spring 2020, 367 undergraduates have transferred to AU, according to Associate Director of Admissions Jesse Tomczak. According to Beth Deal, the University’s assistant vice president for community and internal communication, the resources that the University provides are found on their transfer student website, which includes a unique checklist for transfer students and a specially designed AUx program. 

Mikala Drake, a sophomore transfer student in the School of International Service, said it was hard for her to make friends on campus, especially with many more University-sponsored events focusing on the freshman class. 

Despite this, Drake said that AU has been much more accommodating with her disability than her last school, Mercer University, which placed her in a communal dorm without an accessible shower or disability stall for a few weeks. 

“I have an accessible room, I don’t have a roommate,” Drake said. “Everything is at my perfect reach level, height level and then I use ASAC office for extended time on tests and things like that and other accommodations, so I would say it’s been very helpful.”

Julianna Mac, a transfer student in the SIS and the College of Arts and Sciences, has had difficulty with transferring credits and registering for classes.

Mac said that her academic schedule was “messed up for the longest time.” 

Only regular emailing on her part with the transcript articulation services caused the issue to be resolved. Her advisor also said her schedule was fine when she realized after looking over it again that she would not have graduated on time if she went with that plan, Mac said. 

“As a transfer student, you have to focus on your four-year or three-year planning because there’s no room to mess up,” Mac said.

Ginger Felberg transferred because she had heard of the “knowledgeable professors” at AU and the reputable programs for many majors. 

“The classes, especially the reputation of the professors here, is super high from the way people talk about it,” Felberg said. “The information on my end was just that the professors are pretty knowledgeable and good at what they do and so far it has been true.”

Felberg and Drake both said that the location of AU in the heart of D.C. was a big draw to why they transferred from their previous universities. 

“I wanted the city experience,” Drake said.“That’s what I always thought about when I thought of college experience and so I knew that I could get that here” 

The coronavirus also turned out to be influential in their decision not to come to AU last year. Felberg said she was planning on going to a school in Boston, but she attended community college for a year instead and then applied to AU.

Mac and Drake both explained how the University could improve in helping transfer students feel supported and become acclimated to campus. 

If AU had more “transfer-based get-togethers,” Mac said it would make it much easier to be connected with the community and make friends.

Drake suggested creating more ways for transfer students to grow in relationships with one another in the summer before they even arrive on campus.

“I would say maybe try to make it more easy for other transfer students to contact each other over the summer, which is something I know that AU did with the incoming class,” Drake said.

Mac said how she wants a space to connect with students like herself who are also transfer students as well as with undergraduate students just in their grade. Mac suggested school-affiliated extracurricular activities for transfer students.

Like first-year students, Mac shared how she wishes AU would focus on helping transfer students get acclimated to the school as well.

“I love AU like it’s been great so far,” Mac said. “But I would say there is a lot of focus on, of course, first-year students, but I also just kind of feel like transfer students tend to get overlooked.”

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