When most people hear about a college or university "orientation," they likely assume it refers to a freshman orientation. However, there's another kind of orientation that is just as important for a certain group of students — transfer orientation.
The 2019 Tracking Transfer Report from the National Student Clearinghouse Center showed that out of 666,951 students who started their studies at a community college in 2012, 30.2% percent transferred between schools for their undergraduate studies. Students like these will likely have an opportunity to attend a transfer orientation.
The Difference Between Freshman and Transfer Orientations
Transfer orientations assume students already know about college life so they are more hands off, notes Melanie Gomez, Department Coordinator for the Academic Advising Technology department at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.
As a part of her responsibilities, Gomez helps during the transfer orientation to ensure that students are getting the information they need about some of the services that are available to them.
"Some schools may offer part of the orientation online which the student takes at their own discretion," she says. "Additionally, they may have more responsibility on their part to find the information they need to know."
Speak with Your Adviser as Soon as Possible
"Transferring from a different institution provides for the possibility that there is a difference in requirements between each program you attempt," says Gomez. "Students need to know from the get-go whether or not this is going to impact them."
For this reason, you should sit with your adviser as soon as possible to do a degree audit.
According to Gomez, advisers should also be able to direct you to different offices in the university that provide students with services they may need.
If part of the transfer orientation is online, you can also use your time with an adviser to ask any questions you may have about the information that is given to you.
Familiarize Yourself with the New Resources Available to You
Since many transfer students are transferring from a two-year institution to a four-year institution, there's a chance that the new school may have a lot more resources than they may be accustomed to.
Because of this, part of your job during the transfer orientation is to find out what some of these things are and which department runs them.
For example, in the case of Florida International University, there's a separate department called Student Support Services that provides students with resources like tutorial services, career counseling, professional workshops, résumé writing, computer labs and academic seminars.
Fortunately, these topics are usually covered during transfer orientation and many of the services will likely be represented at the in-person portion of the orientation.
Check on the Status of Your Financial Aid
If you're a transfer student who had financial aid, including federal student loans at your previous institution, you'll want to double-check that the financial aid office is correctly reporting your status so that your loans can re-enter in-school deferment.
Student loans — both federal and private — may not automatically transfer from one school to another and may require some actions on your part to make sure they do.
You'll want to address this early in case you run into any issues such as a disbursement not coming through or your loans going into their grace period.
The good news for transfer students is you are ahead of the game in terms of knowing what college life is actually like, so you may not feel as overwhelmed as a freshman would.