#AndTransfers: Everything you need to know about transferring to Northwestern


Daily file photo by Zach Laurence

Transferring is tough, but it’ll be easier if you ask for help, lean into the awkwardness and soak up everything you can.

Haley Fuller, Reporter

You know the basics of college, like how to survive on the minimum amount of sleep and maximum amount of coffee, but Northwestern is still going to be different. Welcome to one of the most enthusiastic groups on campus — we’re so happy you’re here.

Lean into Wildcat Welcome

You’ve been through college orientation before. You’re not entirely bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, excited to be living on your own for the first time. If you’re anything like my peer adviser group, you’re going to be exhausted with little energy to do anything besides the required meetings, many of which will be virtual. You may have already attended events similar to the True Northwestern Dialogues, or TNDs, and bonding activities, but embrace introducing yourself over and over and lean into the cheesiness and awkward moments on Zoom — you’ll probably learn something and make some new friends. If nothing else, you’ll bond over your mutual boredom and exhaustion.

Befriend other transfers

They’ll understand your experience better than anyone else. Returning transfers can guide you through the rough patches and give you insider tips, and other new transfers will be going through the same ups and downs. The transfer family is like no other, and you’ll smile every time an administrator welcomes the class of 2024 and all of you scream “AND TRANSFERS!”

Fight for every class you took at your old school

Some of your classes may not count for distribution requirements or anything other than electives when you first get your transfer credit report evaluation from the Office of the Registrar. Petition for them to count — you earned those credits. Some may end up as general credits, but it’s well worth the five minutes of filling out the form.

Go to your adviser

You’re probably entering NU with enough credits, but still wondering if you’ll graduate “on time,” if you can study abroad or if you can take electives. Go to your adviser at least once a quarter and let them help you. They’ll have recommendations for courses you’ve never heard of and will help you lay out a plan from your first quarter through graduation.

Do what makes you happy

It’s the simplest piece of advice, but with less time on campus, you’ll want to soak up everything you can. Identify an organization you want to join before you arrive and get involved as soon as possible; it’ll make the transition much easier. Don’t waste your time doing something that makes you miserable. If you want to join a club, do it. Always wanted to take Hebrew? Take it instead of the elective you feel like you should take but are dreading.

Freshmen are friends, not food

In a desperate attempt to not relive freshman year, you might distance yourself from the kids who haven’t lived in a dorm before and are extra loud at night, loudly declaring yourself a sophomore or junior. However, freshmen are the unsung heroes of the transfer experience. They somehow know about what’s going on, what events are worth going to and which distros aren’t too hard. In their rush to make friends during Wildcat Welcome, they’ve met what feels like half the student population and will probably double your social circle over the course of a meal. Whatever you do, don’t discount the freshmen in your classes, down the hall or in your clubs — they’ll become some of your closest friends.

It’s okay to miss your old school

As excited as you might be for starting at NU, it’s still normal to pine for your friends or the coffee shop with the barista who would know your name and your order. You might accidentally call a building by the name of your old school’s equivalent, but so have the transfers who have come before you. The adjustment to NU might not — and probably won’t — be immediate, but your PA group, new friends and old friends will be there for you as you navigate the maze of the Technological Institute.

Don’t compare the beginning of your old school to the beginning of NU

This was the best advice I received all year. After a particularly bad day in October, I called a friend from my old school and told her I wished I hadn’t transferred. I didn’t have as many friends, wasn’t as involved and didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the new environment. She reminded me that a year earlier, I felt the exact same way. It didn’t matter that NU was the better fit; it had only been a month, so how could I have expected to already have nine months’ worth of friends? Go at your own pace and remember that the transition will take some time, and that’s okay. Soon you’ll have a great group of friends and interesting classes, and you’ll be a part of clubs and organizations that you love. Even at the perfect school, you won’t get as far in one month as you did in nine at your old school.

And if all else fails, don’t forget that if you can get through the college process twice, you can get through anything.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @haley_fuller_