During the first week of the fall semester at Binghamton University, countless incoming freshmen will unpack their belongings in the dorm room where they’ll begin the rest of their life, starting a four-year journey of trials and triumphs in pursuit of walking the stage in their cap and gown. But it’s easy to forget that they aren’t the only students coming to BU for the first time. Transfer students make up roughly 25 percent of the undergraduate student body, and they face unique challenges when it comes to making friends and getting involved on campus. I transferred here in my sophomore year, and my experience taught me a lot about how to make the University your home away from home. If you’re an incoming transfer, I hope my advice can help you make the most of your BU experience.
Go to every general interest meeting (GIM) that looks interesting
This is really hard if you’re shy, but it’s worth it. One of my biggest mistakes in my first year was not getting involved in clubs because I was too afraid to put myself out there. Don’t repeat my mistake. When the semester gets difficult, it’s easy to bury yourself in your work and avoid socializing, but that’s no way to go through college. Clubs can offer a break from the stress of your coursework as well as a great opportunity to make new friends. You don’t have to join every club you check out, but going to GIMs is a great way to figure out what’s worth your time going forward.
Make use of the career center
You’re a little closer to graduation than the first-year students, and if you haven’t started thinking about internships or job opportunities, you’re in danger of falling behind. Your college degree might get an employer to keep your résumé out of the trash, but most companies care far more about your practical experience in the field than they do about how high your GPA was. Luckily, BU’s career center can help. Between job fairs, mock interviews and one-on-one sessions with qualified career consultants, the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development is an invaluable resource in setting yourself up for the post-graduation job search. Don’t wait until senior year to think about your future.
Consider a fraternity or sorority
Fraternities and sororities are not for everyone, and they’re not necessary to build a social circle you can count on. But if you’re struggling to meet people, Greek life can help you make lifelong friends and ease your transition to BU. It’s important to find the fraternity or sorority that’s right for you, especially at a school with over 50 choices. There’s typically a week where all of the chapters on campus hold social events so prospective pledges can meet with brothers and sisters and see if they’re a match. If you’re not interested in the party scene, there are nontraditional fraternities that focus on things such as community service or arts and literature.
Don’t beat yourself up over grades
For me, this was the toughest one. I was a perfectionist before I transferred because I wanted my application to be as strong as possible, and any grade lower than an A was an unacceptable failure. But if you’re like me, this is something you have to get out of your system. BU is a challenging school and the transition can be rough, especially if you’re coming from a community college. You’ll probably struggle in your first semester, and that’s not a personal failure. It’s easy to start believing you’re not cut out for the school, but remember that you got in for a reason. The more time you spend regretting the past, the less time you spend working toward the future. If you’re not happy with your grades, pick yourself up and learn from your mistakes. Look toward the future and become the student that you want to be.