Transfer Shock


When students move from one kind of educational experience to another, they sometimes find the transition to be more difficult then they thought it would be. Students who transfer may discover that classes are larger or other differences. While many transfer students adapt quickly, and enjoy the new environment, others may feel lonely and unsure.

Researchers have studied this experience and have labeled it "transfer shock." A common result is a drop in grades in the first year after transfer. In rare cases, the transition can be so distressing that those students get discouraged and drop out.

But it doesn't have to be like that. Here are some suggestions from students:

  • Find out right away what the professor wants. Ask other students - anyone you can find who has already taken the class.
  • Connect - join clubs, study with other students. Professors are approachable - meet with then during their office hours. Researchers have found that students who make an effort to reach out to others enjoy their time more and do better in their studies.
  • Seek advice and make use of all the support systems that are offered.

The good news is once students adjust, their grades go back up. So if you experience some transfer shock, try the things that other students have found helpful. And hang in there! It will get better.

"The material on these pages has been informed by the handbook "British Columbia Transfer TIPS," published by the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT). It has been adapted and used with their permission. Others wishing to adapt or use this material should first seek permission from BCCAT."


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