Getting transfer students involved is key to their success

by Jimmy Janszen, Contributor

The average weighted GPA of an admitted transfer student at San Diego State for fall 2014 was 3.20, according to the university. But even with academic success at a prior college, many transfer students find it difficult to find social success among their peers who seem to already have their group of friends. SDSU should do more to integrate transfer students into the university’s clubs, school organization and social scene.

Student involvement is crucial for student success both while at the university and after graduation. A study measuring the academic success of 343 students from Western Kentucky University concluded that students involved in student organizations did better academically than those not involved.

Recent graduate Ryan Nolen came to SDSU as a freshman. He said coming in as a freshman was “unquestionably easier adjusting to SDSU” compared to the transfer students he knew.

“Coming in as a freshman, I was surrounded by other freshmen,” Nolen said. “When everybody is experiencing the same thing, you attach to one another because you are all in it together.”

During his first few weeks at SDSU, Nolen rushed a fraternity.

“I joined a fraternity mainly to meet friends. It was great exposure to meet so many new people my age,” he said. “I met the majority of my friends at State through rushing, dorm life and social events such as parties. A lot of the people I met my freshman year still remain my friends today.”

In contrast to Nolen’s experience, junior transfer Brennan Wehrle found it much more difficult adjusting to SDSU.

“Adjusting was tough in the first few weeks because I didn’t have any friends in San Diego,” Wehrle said. “It’s also difficult if your roommates have different interests than you. Because the upperclassmen dorms are so expensive, I ended up moving into a house with people I’ve never met before, and they already had their own group of friends.”

Since meeting friends through his living situation wasn’t working out, Wehrle took it to campus to socialize.

“The thing that helped me adjust the most was to spend my time studying at school instead of home to use any excuse to start a conversation. People would sometimes see that I didn’t know much about school or the area, so they’d take some time to tell me what it’s like, which was nice,” he said.

Being a transfer student at SDSU can make it difficult to join clubs or student activities due to a lack of familiarity with and experience on campus.

SDSU should offer clubs or activities for transfers students to join publicly or exclusively. These clubs or activities should be offered to students at the transfer orientation before the beginning of the incoming semester. This way, transfer students can feel comfortable with other SDSU students and the campus, itself, during the first few weeks of school — which can be the most daunting time for transfer students.