My Transfer Experience: Expectations versus Reality

June 17, 2022 | | 5 min read

When I was a freshman attending community college in Los Angeles, I would lie awake at night pondering what it would be like to attend my dream school, University of California, San Diego. Perhaps it would be a place to meet new people and find friends easily, but it could also be a place where academics were mentally and emotionally grueling and challenging. Or it could just be a place where I go and chill out at the beach every weekend! Although I was looking forward to this new chapter of my life, I had absolutely no idea what to expect during my time here at UCSD, especially as an incoming transfer student. However, after my first quarter of attending UCSD, I found some truths and untruths to my expectations, and here is what I have learned.

UCSD is stereotypically known for being “socially dead” and because of that (on top of being a transfer student), it is ultimately up to the individual to reach out to fellow students and faculty to get to know them. It is important to find an organization to join, or even something as simple as beginning a conversation with someone in class. For this reason, I do not believe in the stereotype of UCSD being “socially dead,” but rather that it is “socially demanding”; for being social on this campus requires some work and effort.

However, despite this, I was also pleasantly surprised at how many social events UCSD holds. For example, UCSD hosted a “Week Zero Welcome Fair” and “Meet the Beach” during the first week of the fall quarter. I thought it was nice that the University made an effort to hold these events during the beginning of the Fall quarter because it helps give incoming students a chance to meet other fellow students in a fun and interactive way, which in turn helps provide an easier transition to those who might be nervous about adjusting to a new environment. On top of that, numerous events are held weekly at the Recreation Center and RIMAC. If neither of those options are satisfactory, one can also log onto the UCSD Center for Student Involvement and look through the numerous active school clubs that might sound interesting. But again, like being at any school, it is ultimately up to you to reach out and actively be a part of social events.

Some of the steps I personally took to make friends were joining multiple clubs, such as Graphite (along with many others), and reaching out to many students in my classes. I was able to make these friends because there was more opportunity for me to find people who have similar goals and interests and study together. Although I am still in the process of trying to make new friends, I would not say that this is a bad start. In terms of academics, when beginning my first quarter at UCSD, my expectation was that the work pace would be similar to that of my community college’s semester system. However, that was not at all the case. I had a very difficult time keeping up with the amount of coursework within a matter of just a couple weeks, including keeping track of numerous and what seemed like never-ending deadlines. At first it hit me like a ton of bricks, but here is what I have done to make it seem more manageable;

One, develop a habit of making a daily schedule! This has helped me not only stay on top of things, but also not get too overwhelmed at all the assignments and exams I have to prepare for throughout the quarter.

Two, do not overload yourself with too many classes and obligations, and prioritize your mental health! Especially as all of us are trying to readjust to the in-person educational experience, I found it best to not become committed to too many responsibilities in such a short amount of time. Also, I think we all realized at this point that we actually need to have a social life, or at least a life outside of staring at the computer turning in assignments all day. Don’t feel bad about taking some time to perhaps hang out on the beach once in a while, especially since we live in such a nice part of the country.

Last but not least, the third point I would like to make is to not be afraid to ask questions, or ask for help or guidance! University classes are very difficult and trying to do well in them while getting adjusted to a new environment (on top of all the other obligations one has to worry about) can be very challenging at times. Therefore, it is a good idea to take the time to discover the numerous resources and opportunities UCSD has to offer. For me at least, exploring these resources helped me keep on track with my academics while also figuring out more ways to be involved with the university. Because of doing this, I now know who to reach out to whenever I need help or guidance, which gives me peace of mind that I know I can always reach out for help if I need it.

Being a first year transfer student at UCSD so far has proved to be challenging, yet fun and exciting. Despite the challenges I have faced so far during my UCSD career, and despite being a transfer student, I can say I have had an overall pleasant experience. This is because I have been provided with a multitude of opportunities to grow academically, as well as get involved in the UCSD community in ways I never thought possible, while meeting new friends along the way. Now, looking back at my experience, if there was one thing I could tell my “first quarter self,” it would be to not be afraid because I was not alone.