Transferring to RPI was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. The idea of starting college all over again—basically re-doing freshman year— scared me so much. However, making the choice to suck up those fears and transfer colleges ended up working out pretty well.
I transferred after my first year for several reasons. The biggest reasons were social and academic. I didn’t fit in with the people, and I wasn’t learning anything more than I had done in high school. Over Winter Break my issues with the college came to the surface, I decided that I needed to make a change. College is supposed to be a fun time, and I was just miserable.
As soon as I started my first semester at RPI, I knew I had made the right decision. Everything was so much better here than my previous college: the student body, academics, and the potential for career opportunities. However, I feel as though I was not adequately prepared for the massive changes that transferring colleges bring. It was hard to get a hang of the norms of RPI. Upperclassmen are expected to know these things, so sometimes I felt out of place in classes and conversations with other students. The biggest problem I had when I started was academics. The work load and difficulty of classes is like nothing I have ever experienced. I think that the faculty that deals with helping transfer students could have done a better job of preparing me for what I was heading into. I know that for freshmen, there are a lot of specialized resources, such as in hall tutoring, catered to them them in adjusting to college life.
In my personal experience, students at RPI haven’t always been the most welcoming at first when I let them know I am a transfer student. The first thing that people always ask me when I say I’m a transfer is, “Where did you transfer from?” Honestly, I know that they’re trying to keep conversation, but as soon as I tell them, I get what I call “the look.” “The look” is one of judgment and usually a little condescension towards me. It’s almost as if I’m not as good as them because I came in as a transfer, not a freshman. Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me too much, but every now and then “the look” serves as another reminder that I’m still adjusting to RPI.
These little negatives have been outweighed by the many positives of RPI. Although there is a stigma that students are weird and nerdy, compared with the student body of my previous college, this has been an easily accepted change for me. The people that I have met in my first two semesters have become some of the closest friends that I have ever had. I feel as though RPI has a diverse community, and it’s not difficult to find a niche where you fit in. It’s so easy to get involved on campus, and doing so has made a big difference for me in making the transition to RPI. From my experience, here is my advice to any current transfer student or a future transfer student: be prepared to work harder than you probably did at your previous college; live on campus your first year; take advantage of the freshmen resources, since there aren’t many aimed for transfers; and lastly, devote some of your time to a club or organization on campus (The Poly is always looking for new members, and we’re pretty fun).