Advice From Faculty and Staff

Advice from Faculty and Staff who were Transfers 

Christina SholarsChristina Sholars Ortiz

Coordinator, Black Academic Excellence Center & Advisor to Cal Poly Black Student Union (BSU)

"As a returning transfer student, I was self-conscious of the differences between myself and my peers. I felt a need to fit in, but my work and family responsibilities made having the “college experience” a challenge. For years, I carried my challenges as a student with dependents as a limitation to fully engage on campus. Toward the last year of my associate degree, I realized if I opened up to faculty, peers, or staff by sharing who I am and the experiences I had in life my peers may feel comfortable doing the same. I used my opportunity as a transfer student at a new institution as a fresh start and an opportunity to attend events, get to know my peers and embrace the experiences I have had in life as opportunities to add context or new perspectives in class.

As a staff member on this campus, I am still a student, mother, and wife. Each of these roles makes me who I am today. If I minimize any of my positions, I will diminish the evolution of who I have become. I now recognize that each challenging opportunity I have faced is a chance to share what I have learned through my educational and life journey. As a transfer student, I want you to remember your past does not define who you are, and your academic journey is unique to you. You are right on time and where you should be."

Daniel smiling at cameraDr. Daniel Story

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

"I’ll pass along the most important advice I received as a transfer student: utilize every opportunity you can to talk directly with your professors about your courses and the educational challenges you are facing. The personal access you have to your professors, who are experts in their fields and have dedicated their careers to teaching you, is just as educationally important as the stuff you are required to do, like attend lectures and complete assignments. It’s a big part of the value you get out of attending a university like Cal Poly. And, in my experience, students who take this advice tend to learn more and get better grades."

Cheryl Flores smiling at the beachCheryl Flores

Coordinator, Native American and Indigenous Center

"Settling into a new campus can be challenging, but one of the best ways to make it easier is to get involved on campus. Join a club or student organization that interests you. Look into Cal Poly Now for events throughout the year! I found my home at one of the SDAB Centers. The centers are a great place to do homework, relax, and meet new people. Consider a part-time job on campus. This can be a great way to earn extra money and meet people from all over the campus. You never know what it may lead to unless you try."

Josh MichelsenJosh Michelsen

Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment

"Congratulations! All your hard work and determination has paid off. As a former transfer student myself, I can’t wait for you to join our community and see what success is still to come! Starting at a new school can be challenging. Be sure to find your community – an office on campus, a job, or a student organization. Also remember that faculty and staff are here to help. Don’t hesitate to ask for support if you need it. Most importantly, remember that you worked hard and deserve to be here!

Drexler Alexander sitting on stairsDrexler Alcantara

Counselor, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

"As a former first-generation transfer student from a California Community College, I understand what a challenge transferring to a public university can be. Transitions can sometimes feel challenging, but they also present incredible opportunities for growth and new experiences. Remember, being a transfer student offers you a fresh start and an opportunity to create a unique college experience. Embrace the journey, stay determined, and make the most of this exciting chapter in your academic life. Good luck!"


Lindsay LaceyLindsay Lacey

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. Free tech rentals (in the library) are a life saver. 

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.

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."

Dr. Francis VillablancaDr. 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." 

SabrinaSabrina Canady

Lead Academic Advisor, College of Liberal Arts

"I was a commuter and full-time working transfer student, from Allan Hancock to Cal Poly! Psychology major. It was challenging and frustrating to try to balance school and work. Not to mention trying to find time to take care of myself (SO important) and trying to find parking (!).

I lived in the area, I thought “I have friends, why do I have to try to make new friends on campus?”. I later learned that my perceptions were wrong and were holding me back from getting the best experience I could. Many others were also trying to balance work (or family) and trying to manage the quarter system. We just were not talking about it. Once we did, it was a relief. They understood and could support in ways my friends/family off campus did not know how to do. Plus, I learned how truly helpful a focused study group could be! I highly recommend it them.

Okay, one last thing. I know everyone says it, but it is worth shouting from the mountain tops: Ask questions! Ask for help! Even if you are not sure what you should be asking, just check in. With an Academic Advisor, a Faculty Advisor, someone in the Transfer Center, any staff member at Cal Poly. I love when a new transfer comes in and says “well, I don’t know what I should be asking, but I wanted to check in to see if there is anything I should know”. 

Okay, one more one last thing….please don’t miss anything important, please read your Cal Poly emails!"

Martin sitting outside on a patioMartin Ralda-Martinez

Assistant Director, University Housing 

"When I transferred from my community college back home in New Haven, to the public university I attended, I thought I was going to be lost and have to navigate a new campus all alone. That couldn't be further from the truth! There are people who dedicate their time to folks like you to learn and adjust smoothly to your new environment. Use your resources and voice to find the support you need to be successful! Transfer students are essential to colleges and universities because, without us, they are missing an important point of view. Continue to pursue your goals and know you have great people here at the Transfer Center waiting to help you achieve them!"

Andrea LawsonAndrea Lawson

Director of Counseling Services

"Transferring to a new college after my first year of school was a challenge.  I felt like everyone had already found their group, and there may not be a place for me to belong.  However, I found a few strong connections with other transfer students during orientation, and then applied to be a Resident Advisor and a trip leader for the outdoor adventure program the following year.  Having roles like these on campus helped me to connect with other students more easily, created built-in friendships, and gave me leadership skills that I still use in my job every day!   Keep in mind that you're not alone and there are places for you to find belonging here at Cal Poly!"

    Dr. Stewart WilsonDr. Stewart Wilson

    Assistant Professor of Soil Resources

    "As a former transfer student from a California Community College, I understand what a challenge transferring to a CSU can be.  One piece of advice I have is to remember how far you have come to get here. You have already accomplished a lot, before you even get to Cal Poly! Congratulations! Personally, I am as proud of my Associates degree as I am of my PhD. Other advice is to reach out to your instructors.  We are all here to help you! Finally, joining clubs is a great way to get involved in the different academic and social communities on campus.  Welcome!"

    Debi HillDr. Debi Hill

    Associate Vice President of Equity & Transition, Student Affairs

    Here are my Top 5 Transfer Tips from one transfer student to another.

    1. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
    2. It’s all about relationships. Reach out to your professors when you don’t understand something.  Text a classmate. Asking for help and clarification doesn’t make you sad, it makes you smart. And strategic.
    3. Get involved in a club or campus activity that you enjoy.
    4. You belong here. You have the academic and life experience that no one else at Cal Poly has – that’s why you were selected to study here.  Go you! We’ve all suffered from Imposter Syndrome and wondered when others were going to figure out that we don’t know what we’re doing.
    5. Get to know the fabulous staff at the Transfer Center.

    Advice from Faculty and Staff

    Dr. PedersenDr. Joy Pedersen

    Dean of Students

    “Welcome Transfer students! I am so glad you are here! My father was a community college instructor for 35 years - 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 are 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!"


    Dr. PattonDr. Jamie Patton

    Associate Vice President, Student Affairs

    "Hello and welcome to the Mustang Family! I would like to congratulate you on your decision to transfer to Cal Poly and reaffirm how excited we are that you joined our learning community. You are joining a community that takes pride in Learn by Doing, both inside and outside of the classroom. I know that transitioning to a new university can be a stressful process, but know that you belong here. In addition to the Transfer Center, we have a collective of Centers known as Student Diversity and Belonging to support your journey and help you find your peeps. Remember, always shine bright like a diamond!"


    TammyTammy Martin

    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 step you can start working on is creating or updating your branded materials such as your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and MustangJOBS profile. Then you begin networking to help you land an internship or full-time position. We can help you with this and more! Visit our website to schedule a virtual appointment with a career counselor or utilize virtual drop-in. We hope to see you soon!”

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