COVID changed a lot of college experiences, including those of transfer students.
Marina Speanburg transferred when schools were online, which contributed to her struggles.
“I think, because of the pandemic, I already missed out on my college experience, so transferring was just one part of what has made my college career seem like a waste,” Speanburg said. “In my experience, there was no transfer seminar class there to help transfer students get to know the school. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend was able to help me. I had no idea what anything was, had no idea where my classes were or what services were offered at my school.”
Castleton senior Lily Doton experienced similar struggles in her exclusively online transfer to Castleton from the University of Vermont.
“I think for me personally, because I transferred when we were online, it was really hard. I didn’t really meet anyone my first year. It is hard to meet friends online. It was isolating at times,” Doton said about her first year at Castleton.
Making friends is vastly different for most transfer students and Speanburg said it was by far her biggest challenge.
“My day consists of driving to school, going to class, going to work, then coming home. There was no hanging out with friends or going out with new people because I never met new people. No matter how hard I tried,” Speanburg said.
Speanburg says she tried clubs and even sororities, but nothing ever meshed for her.
But for others, like Kelsi Bolstrom, it was easy because of the connections they had at the school already.
“I was friends with my roommates and became friends with some other people I had classes with. There were many events that made me socialize with others from my class,” Bostrom said.
And for most, all they needed was time and a club to join.
“Joining any club helps. I’m in the COM department, but if I hadn’t joined the Spartan, I wouldn’t have made friends with the people I became friends with, and that played a really big part in me wanting to stay here and sticking with the major I chose,” Doton said.
Marty Kelly also found friendship through being involved with the Spartan and other clubs.
“Getting involved is how it happened for me at Castleton. It didn’t really come from group projects, presentations, or side-splitting humor. It was being involved with the paper and the radio club and talking to people about their work and my work that helped me out a lot,” Kelly said.
Hunter Smith found that sometimes living on campus helps, too.
“Moving into a suite helped tremendously. Without those guys I would have been totally lost,” Smith said.
The seasoned transfers also offered some advice.
“Just to get involved, really get into situations where your dialogue is required. SGA, become a club officer, establish yourself somehow. Writing for the newspaper is a great way to get your name out there and establish yourself as a student leader of sorts,” Kelly said.
“My advice to a new transfer would be to get as active as you can, be outgoing, make new people, take on a student job or work at a coffee shop in town. Just do anything to get your face seen around campus and around town often. The best you can do is just ask for help. People are surprisingly nicer in that situation than you think,” Speanburg said.