Incoming Fall 2021 transfer students reflect on transfer experience

Transfer students cited struggles with registration and the housing process while also expressing gratitude for the Transfer Connect community.

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Emery Little

Paths diverging on campus, as photographed on Sept. 12, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Isabella Gomez and Brina Ratangee

Vanderbilt will welcome more than 200 transfer students to campus for the Fall 2021 semester. Incoming transfer students expressed their thoughts on their experience so far, from their excitement about joining the Vanderbilt community to their struggles with housing and course registration leading up to move-in day.

Transfer students expressed frustration about the course registration process. Thomas Rangsikul, a sophomore transfer student, said he struggled to get in touch with advisors and choose appropriate classes, despite needing a structured academic path due to being on the pre-med track. 

“Like a lot of other students, I had difficulty contacting my advisors, so I was just left to pick classes on my own,” Rangsikul said. “The hardest thing for me was understanding what AXLE was.”

Similarly, Grace Knor, an incoming sophomore transfer student, similarly stated that registering for classes was a downside of the transfer process. She claimed that all transfer students were placed in the last registration group, meaning that they chose classes at the same time as first-years on June 21. In comparison, non-transfer upperclassmen selected classes beginning on April 19, nearly two months prior to first-year registration. As a result, Knor said many of the classes she intended to take were already filled by the time she could choose her classes.

“As sophomores and juniors transferring in, it was kind of a bummer that we weren’t placed with the other sophomores and juniors for enrollment,” Knor said.

Lindsey Keener, a junior transfer student, said she experienced a similar predicament during registration as most classes she needed to take to graduate on time were not available. In particular, she mentioned that most writing courseswhich are necessary for her to satisfy her sophomore AXLE requirementswere filled, leaving her to wonder if more writing classes could be offered or if transfers could receive earlier registration periods in the future. 

Despite the difficulties with registration, Knor also acknowledged the helpfulness of webinars hosted by Vanderbilt which explained course registration requirements. She stated that the webinars were “reassuring” during the otherwise stressful transition. Keener specifically referred to the sessions hosted by Program Coordinator for Residential Colleges and Transfer Connect Advisor Marissa McGillis as beneficial.

Knor and Keener also stated that professors have been accommodating concerning class registration. Knor said she was successful in securing spots in the classes she needed for her major by emailing professors. Similarly, Keener was granted junior status despite originally being deemed a sophomore when she was not able to enroll in a writing course.

“People are really putting in an effort to make room for transfer students,” Knor said.

Additionally, Knor and Keener said housing was another cause of stress for many transfer students this year. Transfer students are notified about their housing assignments and randomly assigned roommates, if applicable, on Aug. 10, which is ten days before their move-in day. Keener explained that necessary items may not arrive on time for move-in due to COVID-19-induced shipping delays. 

“I don’t even know if I need to buy a fridge because I find out where I am living on Aug. 10, then I move in on Aug. 20,” Keener said.

Despite the inconveniences transfer students said they faced before coming to campus this year, both Keener and Knor expressed gratitude for the Transfer Connect community. Upon admission to Vanderbilt, transfer students are invited to this forum for networking with other transfers. They can exchange social media information, ask questions, find roommates and join group chats.  

“I really would commend them for setting up the transfer students forum,” Knor said. “I was able to meet a lot of people, and that’s how my roommate found me.”

Rangsikul, Knor and Keener all mentioned the typical stress and uncertainty that accompanies transferring schools. They stated that COVID-19 made this process even more daunting. However, they praised Vanderbilt for its straightforward application process.

“Vanderbilt laid out its transfer application very clearly, which I really appreciated because not all the schools I looked at did that,” Knor said. 

Regardless of these challenges, Rangsikul, Knor and Keener agreed that transferring to Vanderbilt was the right decision. 

“It is very, very scary to open yourself up to a whole new academic world after you’ve gotten used to one that you thought you were going to spend your next four years at,” Knor said. “But, I know I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”