Finding classes, navigating a new campus culture and getting used to Lenoir's lunch menu — UNC first-years have a few unique items on their to-do lists. For some UNC students, those challenges and changes come a little later in their college career.
Last year, the University accepted 852 transfer students. And similar to the experience of first-years on campus, some of these students find it difficult to adjust to life in Chapel Hill while others find the transition feels seamless.
“Coming into UNC, like I wasn't really sure what to expect,” said junior Cody Woolverton, who transferred from Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson, N.C. “The welcome of everyone I've met on campus, from the people in the immediate friend groups I hang out with to the random people I come across on a day to day basis — I love it here.”
Woolverton came to UNC in the fall and is majoring in exercise and sports science. He said that if he could describe his transfer student experience in one sentence or less, it would be "rather amazing."
“Orientation was really good, a lot of very reassuring parts," Woolverton said. "I can't tell you how many times I heard them telling us, 'Its OK if you feel like you don't know how you got here at first, our admissions office knows what they're doing. If you got in, you belong here.'"
Andrew Dundas, a junior media and journalism major who also transferred in this past fall, said that Luke Fayard, counselor and transfer student coordinator, was a great resource who is always there.
“I think it's good empathy for transfer students that need it,” Dundas, who previously attended Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, said.
He said that in addition to Fayard, having a separate orientation for transfer students was a useful resource.
Leah Barnes, a sophomore public policy major who transferred in the fall from Appalachian State University, said she initially received a bunch of emails and was approached frequently regarding her transfer experience. But she said that stopped after the first couple weeks of school.
“Maybe not in my case, but for a lot of people, I think continued support throughout the year would have been nice instead of the first couple of weeks,” Barnes said.
When asked to describe her transfer student experience at UNC, Barnes said that it's been a little rough.
“I think a lot of freshmen, after the first month or so, their mental health is a little rocky, and that's definitely been the case for me again like it was last year, just kind of getting to know UNC as a new school,” Barnes said.
Barnes said that overall, the transition is hard, but that she is grateful to be at UNC.
Allyson Cole, a senior studying English and comparative literature and Hispanic literatures and cultures, transferred to UNC for her sophomore year from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I think that because we have already done college for one year, they want to bolster the independence that we have already created, but in that, I think that we lose some of the nurturing that maybe we do need,” Cole said.
Cole said that after attending UNC for about a year, she started recognizing some flaws in the way UNC welcomes transfer students. In some ways, she said transfers can be compartmentalized and separated from the general UNC population.
“Having transferring in common definitely breeds some sympathy and allows people to understand each other to some extent," Cole said. "But I also think that creating relationships with people who are already established at Carolina is the only way to assimilate into our Carolina culture that we have."
Gabby Lamb, a sophomore transfer from Appalachian State University majoring in psychology and human development and family studies, also mentioned the feeling of being separated.
“Sometimes it feels like I don't belong or I'm sort of not as good because I transferred in or something like that,” Lamb said.
In responding to how UNC can improve the transfer experience, Nicole Buickerood, the community director of the Carmichael Community, said she thinks they can improve on meeting students where they are.
“It's hard as a university to have a one-size-fits-all approach for transfer students because I think that they come from such a variety of backgrounds,” Buickerood said.
Buickerood said that through Transfer United, the Residential Learning Program for transfers, Carolina Housing works to build a community for these students.
Many transfer students mentioned the experience of traditional first-year students versus transfers.
“It seems like even in the language that UNC uses when they are welcoming students to school and orientation and stuff, it's clear that the focus is more on first-year students,” Lamb said.
Buickerood said it is important that transfer students feel that their unique experience on campus is valid.
“In my opinion, I think that transfer students just need to be heard and validated. Their experiences are true and that's their truth,” Buickerood said.
Cole said all should be cognizant that transfers earned their place at the University and are just as capable as traditional first-year students.
“Recognizing that they already feel 'other-ed' just as people and welcoming them into the Carolina community the way that we welcome first years in would be a great step as a student body and as a University,” Cole said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.