What every NU transfer needs to know, as told by a transfer


Daily file photo by Zach Laurence

Transferring isn’t easy, but give yourself time to adjust, lean on the transfer community and do what makes you happy, and it will all work out.

Haley Fuller, Daily Senior Staffer

You already know the basics of college, from how to survive finals to the best study tactics. But Northwestern has some chaotic quirks, like the maze that is the Technological Institute, the quarter system and the fact that you will be shouting “AND TRANSFERS” every time someone mentions the Class of 2025 during Wildcat Welcome. 

Welcome to the best, most enthusiastic group on campus. Before you get to Evanston, here’s what you need to know about the transfer experience.

Lean on me 

Join the transfer community or befriend other transfers in whatever way you can. It’s okay if you’re not best friends with your roommate, Peer Adviser or PA group, but the transfer community is so strong and understands the ins and outs of transitioning to NU. Become a member of the Transfer Student Organization and its mentorship program, or just find other transfers to share the experience with. Older transfers are always happy to share insider tips, and new transfers are looking for the same community and support, so find a few people to commiserate and celebrate with. 

Most importantly, don’t forget to meet with your advisor. They’ll help you fight for every credit you took at your old school, make sure you’re on track to graduate and can recommend amazing classes that you didn’t know existed.

You might get deja vu

Sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re reliving freshman year. If you were lucky enough to live on your school’s campus last year, you know all about living away from home, from the importance of wearing shower shoes to the unfortunate reality that college is not just a nine-month sleepover. Take the important lessons you’ve learned, but don’t be afraid to be new again. 

You’ve never gone to NU before — and whether you’re coming from a community college, a huge state school or a tiny liberal arts college — it’s going to be an adjustment. Lean on your PA, a professor you like, your friends and even the freshmen. Somehow the freshmen will always know more than you about what’s going on this weekend, what the must-take classes are and everything in between. As a sophomore or junior, you might want to separate yourself from those uninitiated to dorm living, but remember that freshmen are friends, not food —  and they might even end up being some of your best friends.

Do what makes you happy

College, like life, is too short to do things that don’t make you happy, and your time at NU is already being cut short. Join clubs that interest you, take that language you’ve always wanted to learn (would 100% recommend ancient Greek!) and go to all the speakers, performances and events you can. 

The University has so much to offer, so take advantage of it while you can — but if lounging on the Lakefill sounds more appealing than watching your fourth StuCo show this week, just enjoy the view of Lake Michigan. While you might have to take distribution credits in subjects that aren’t your favorite, find ones that align with your interests, from science fiction to music theory. You only have a few years here, so enjoy them.

It won’t always be forward motion

I wish I could tell you that once you transfer, everything magically falls into place. Unfortunately, it’s never going to be perfect, so be prepared for some ups and downs.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel at home in Evanston within a day or two, but when the novelty of NU wears off, it might get harder. Friends at your old school are slipping back into familiar routines and friendships while you’re studying for midterms during Week 3 and still making new friends and joining clubs. It can be overwhelming and unnerving, but whatever you do, don’t compare the end of your old school to the beginning of NU. 

Instead, think back to where you were a year earlier and what was going through your mind then — you were still adjusting to college, getting involved and meeting new people. Even at the perfect school, you won’t get as far in one month as you did in nine at your old school. Give it time and give yourself the grace to grow and adapt. Soon, you’ll be acing your classes and loving the clubs you join with great friends by your side.

Be proud of yourself and give yourself time to adjust

The strength of transfers is unmatched. Going through the college process once is miserable, but willingly subjecting yourself to it twice takes a lot of grit and determination. It takes so much strength to uproot yourself and start at a new school, especially when the dominant narrative is of finding the perfect school on the first try and staying there for four years. 

Everyone’s journey is different; transferring can be a roller coaster, from the highs of finding your place or studying your dream major to the lows of missing your old school or discovering that one of your credits didn’t transfer. But remember: if you can apply to college twice, you can do anything.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @haley_fuller_

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