Advice for Transfer Students
Navigating a new campus and culture can be very challenging. We asked students, staff, and faculty to share advice they have for incoming and current Cal Poly transfers! Check out our Transfer Student Spotlights to learn more about current transfer students experience at Cal Poly.
Advice from Faculty and Staff who were Transfer Students
Dr. Dean Wendt
Dean, College of Science and Mathematics
"I learn differently from many folks and can suffer from test anxiety. I needed time at a two-year college to develop my study skills, my confidence and my love of learning before continuing my growth at Cal Poly. It’s taken me years to feel like I belong in academia, which may sound strange coming from the dean of a college, but I’m here as proof that you belong. You have incredible talents, and we at Cal Poly are fortunate to have you."
Admissions Officer, Admissions, Recruitment & Financial Aid
""The transfer student experience is so multifaceted and individualized! We (transfer students) have similar transitions into the university but at the same time, our experiences can be completely different! One of my recommendations as a transfer student would be to get involved and take advantage of the resources on campus to ease the transition and make connections.
I struggled during my first couple of semesters at SJSU because I felt like an outsider. I was surrounded by students who had entered the university together as freshmen and had built their relationships for the past two years. On top of that, I felt even more isolated based on my age gap compared to the current junior-standing students on campus. It took some time and social engagement but I eventually adjusted to my new college environment through campus involvement. I found a sense of community through intentional campus integration and was able to make connections with other transfer students that had different but relatable experiences!"
Dr. Francis Villablanca
Professor, Biological Sciences & Beacon Mentor
"Many of us had a very positive transfer experience. Good experiences start with recognizing you are not alone. Faculty invite you to visit them in office hours and discuss classes and currently available research opportunities. You can join BEACoN mentor network or LSAMP and we will facilitate that research connection. Also, make sure to visit your Department academic adviser. Let them know you are a transfer student. Many programs have ways to fast track you to getting better connected. We are here for you."
Academic Advisor, Mustang Success Center
"College librarians are awesome - they help students learn how to utilize library resources, help to guide research, and answer a TON of other questions. Tech rentals (in the library) are a life saver. They're free to borrow for students and usually available same day.
As a Cal Poly commuter student, it was really important for me to find study spots where I could spend those 2-3 hours (or more) in between my classes to study and do work, because driving 30 minutes home between classes wasn't really an option.
Talk to your professors. Tell them you're a transfer student. I encourage you to tell them you're working two jobs or that you've got family you're supporting, that you're commuting, that you only have access to one computer at home that you share with other people, that you have no idea what you're doing yet at Cal Poly because you just got here and already feel a little lost. Whatever. Tell your professors when you've fallen behind, when something happens that is affecting your academics. A lot of professors will work with you. I took an Incomplete in a course- which I felt like was an F. It wasn't-- it allowed me to take additional time to complete my coursework and get the grade I deserved. Along those same lines... understand grading at Cal Poly. It's different at every school."
Program Coordinator, TRIO Achievers
"I was a first-generation transfer student and would encourage students to reach out and connect with faculty and staff. While some transfer students formed deep connections at their previous schools, there are plenty of opportunities for students to connect here at Cal Poly. Don't forget, you belong here!
Professor, Graphic Communication
I came to Cal Poly as a junior transfer but I was also 10 years older than most of the students. I wasn’t sure how I was going to “fit in” but one of my professors suggested I start going to the club meetings for one of the department clubs. Once I started going to meetings I met people who were in my classes. The interaction in the club meetings was so different from the interactions in the classroom but once I got to know them it was much easier to talk to them in and out of class. I decided to run for one of the leadership positions in the club and quickly became involved. You’ll hear the advice “get involved” and I can tell you it changed my entire college experience.
Now I am a professor in the department I attended many years ago and I can tell you the students who are involved are those we can count on. In addition they’re usually the ones who succeed in getting the best jobs!"
Leadership and Program Coordinator, University Housing
"Transferring to Cal Poly felt very isolating to me, and on top of that, it was challenging and a little intimidating to rebuild my community and network at a new school. As tempting as it is to focus solely on classes, I encourage y'all to connect with classmates, staff, and faculty! New pals will help make it feel more like home. It takes time, but my biggest hope is that y'all are able to find the support you need while you're here. And don't forget to take care of yourself - there are so many awesome opportunities to explore while you're here, but it's okay to take a break when you need it!"
Cal Poly Scholars Academic Advisor, Mustang Success Center
"Welcome to the Mustang Family! As a former transfer student, I encourage you to make the best out of this experience. Meet new people, connect with professors, attend a Cal Poly sporting event, go bowl in the UU, hike to Architecture Graveyard, join a club...but most importantly, find a community! We will be here along the way to support you through your collegiate experience so don't hesitate to reach out. Enjoy your time here, YOU GOT THIS!"
Advice from Transfer Students
Strategies for Success
Motivation for success
Advice from Faculty and Staff
Dr. Joy Pedersen
Interim Dean of Students
“Welcome Transfer students! I am so glad you are here! My father was a community college instructor for 35 years, and I grew up on a community college campus. I place a high value on the education you have received before coming to Cal Poly, and I am sure you have been well prepared. I encourage you to let your light shine at Cal Poly. You have many gifts, talents, and experiences to contribute to your community. Every student who has been admitted to Cal Poly has the potential to succeed, and there are many people here to support you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or other resources on campus. I look forward to meeting you!"
Senior Career Counselor, Career Services
“Hello Cal Poly Transfer Students! All of us at Career Services are excited that you are here and part of our university community. We hope that you will tap into our services early and as often as you'd like. Every student has a college-based career counselor to help you move your career plans forward. If you haven't already done so, one small step you can start working on now is creating or updating your branded materials and on-site presence such as your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and MustangJOBS profile and then begin networking to help you land an internship or full-time position. We can help you with this and so much more! Visit our website to see how to schedule a virtual appointment with a career counselor or utilize virtual drop-in. We hope to see you soon!”