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Transfer Help

Transfer Shock And How To Survive It

Transferred from another institution and feeling great?:

That’s wonderful. Sometimes, students can transfer from one school to another with little or no loss of confidence and momentum toward graduation. Of new students attending College of Arts and Sciences for Fall 2012, almost 20% are transfer students – you’re an integral part of who we are, and we’re delighted that your transition has been successful. (You still may want to keep reading just in case we mention something useful!)

Transferred from another institution and feeling a little lost?:

Then you’re probably experiencing what’s termed “transfer shock” – feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and loneliness as you find yourself in new surroundings. This can happen when students transfer from two-year to four-year institutions, when they transfer from private to public institutions, when they transfer from in-state to out-of-state schools, and sometimes when they transfer against their will (if, for instance, finances or family circumstances force them to consider other educational options).

It helps to know that transfer shock happens, and it’s usually temporary. Given enough time, you’d likely adjust to your new surroundings all by yourself. However, below are some suggestions and links to ISU services that may help you adjust more quickly:

  • Transfer shock can lead to serious academic repercussions, such as a low GPA or academic probation. Don’t neglect basic successful student routines such as studying regularly, attending class, speaking with your instructors, reading your syllabi, and understanding all your class requirements.
  • Are you a commuter? Get acquainted with the programs and services that Commuter Student Services offers: Scholarships, laptops to borrow, free food, and more!
  • If you’re a military veteran, take advantage of the available support offered at
  • Distance Ed students are special – if you’re completing your degree online, you know that already. There’s a special “concierge service” set up to help you negotiate any pitfalls you might encounter in your long-distance endeavors:
  • Know your resources for transfer credit. This link not only connects you to ISU-wide transfer student resources; if you’re a College of Arts and Sciences major, it also helps you understand your transfer evaluation and petition for better equivalencies.
  • Shortcut your learning process to figuring out our campus: You already know the basics of how an institution of higher learning operates; what you need is simply to adjust this knowledge to the ISU system. This Sycamore Express website is an all-in-one index to everything you’ll need, all on one page: simply scroll through and click on what you need.
  • Learn who does what, spend time meeting the people who can help you, and write down their names and contact information so you can reach them later if necessary. These people can include academic advisors, office staff, teaching or resident hall assistants, and reference librarians, to name a few.
  • Get involved! Hang out in the transfer lounges to meet other people; participate in as many orientation activities as you can; establish informal networks; join clubs or take part in other extracurricular activities. If you’re involved, you’ll get over transfer shock more quickly.
  • Apply for scholarships: Don’t think that incoming freshmen are the only students who qualify for these types of awards.
  • Ask questions. You’ve already attended one other institution (or two, or three, or thirteen!), but no one expects you to know all the answers already about ISU.
  •  f you’re transferring from a two-year school, accept that four-year schools operate differently. Some classes may be larger; professors may seem more formal or more focused on research. Accept these differences as your next educational challenge, just as you once accepted the challenge of moving from high school or the work force to a community college.
  • You’re progressing toward a four-year degree, so expect more challenging coursework to come your way. If you find yourself not earning the same high GPA you did at your previous school, or if you’re on academic probation at the end of your first ISU term, take stock of your study skills and habits to see how they can be refined. Some helpful suggestions are listed here.
  • Take a deep breath, and keep a positive attitude! ISU is a supportive place, and there are lots of people and offices ready to help.