Advice from a former transfer student

This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.

Celeste Chance, Contributing Writer

After two years and one semester at community college, working full time as a toddler teacher, I transferred to VCU ready to start my journey. I wanted to get involved on campus, meet new people and somehow maintain a job while getting the full college experience. 

This master plan I created ended up re-writing itself, and I graduated with more lessons learned than experiences. 

When I moved to Richmond, the city was new but I had familiar faces by my side, which made acclimating a little easier, but meeting new people is challenging. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, but if I could go back, I would have joined more clubs, recreational sports or gone to more events to make new friends. The people I did meet came out of spontaneous experiences — getting mimosas with classmates at 821 Cafe after a canceled class comes to mind. Be open to going with the flow and getting out of your comfort zone.

Other than meeting new people, I knew I wanted a job to make extra cash and not fall into the classic ramen noodle dinner every night. I went to the part-time job fair that VCU hosts each semester and ended up working in my familiar field of child care. That’s another decision I wish I could go back and change: it would have been nice to find a job I hadn’t done before, one I could gain new skills from.

One of my biggest regrets is not finding a job closer to campus. Working about 35 hours a week in the Short Pump area while taking classes left little time to socialize. Any spare time went to studying. You might want to look into on-campus jobs that work around your schedule. Nearby businesses are also usually understanding of your limited schedule as a college student. 

As a transfer student and graduate, the best advice I can give to students coming in is to get plugged in, do something you haven’t done before and find a balance between grinding and taking in what campus has to offer. It’s easy to be content with friends you already have from back home, but college is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Try something new because this part of your life will end quickly, and it only happens once.

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