Transfer Shock: How I endured my first term at the UO, and then came back for more

Fall term was a whirlwind.

As a transfer student, I had gotten it into my head that by my third year of college I would have the business of attending classes and maintaining a relatively high G.P.A. in the bag.

I knew that the University of Oregon was going to be different, possibly more difficult academically, but otherwise the same in regards to the business nature of it.

Get to class on-time; turn in homework on-time; take notes; study for quizzes; all the things that I did at Chemeketa, I would now do some place larger.

For the most part, I was correct in my assumptions. A few of the minor details that I noticed right away, however, made it abundantly clear that this experience was going to be a shock – a transfer-shock, to be specific.

I had never heard the term used in Karen Stevens’ transfer class at CCC, and I also hadn’t heard it used at the UO until the eighth week or so of fall term.

I had felt like my head was spinning those first seven weeks. The number of people here is staggering. The University community far exceeds the community college level, in terms of human volume, by an incredible number.

Also, the number of young people blew me away. I was so used to seeing people my age, even older sometimes, walking the halls and attending the same classes at Chemeketa. But here, that just isn’t the case.

Most people my age (31) are graduate students – educators, even. There are hardly any non-traditional students at all. I receive a monthly non-traditional student newsletter via email that helps to remind me how unique I am in this place.

It was shocking, to say the least. The problem though, was that I was incapable of articulating what it was I had been experiencing internally.

I had few people that I could communicate my concerns with. I certainly never wanted to be that old guy who hangs out with the kids. I mean, I have a step-son who is going to start college next fall. It just seems inappropriate to try and make friends with these people – what on Earth would we have to talk about?

Perhaps I’m being narrow-minded.

But I challenge any non-traditional transfer student to try and discuss the challenges of attending college with elementary and middle-school aged children at home, while your spouse is also attending a different university and having to deal with their own problems.

If it can be done, I’d happily take some advice.

Either way, once I was able to put a label on the feelings I had been having, suddenly the world I was struggling to survive in became much more relaxed, much simpler.

All of a sudden, the sea of young faces didn’t appear quite so imposing and intimidating. I began to realize that they were just kids, many of them, and that it was what it’s like when my step-son has his friends over for the weekend.

The old adage, “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them,” just enveloped my mind.

So I survived. I ended my first term at the UO with straight As. And honestly, in hindsight, the classes wouldn’t have seemed so difficult if I hadn’t been so concerned with the change of scenery.

The UO is just like anywhere else. Keep that in mind when you make it to your transfer college, if that’s what you’re going for. Be aware of transfer shock before it affects you.

Even if you’re not an older, non-traditional student, the suggestion still applies. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a new place with new people. Stay focused on your academic goals, get involved with a group or club, and make friends if you want, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Have a good time with it.

I know I am.

Now.

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