Seattle University Works to Help Transfers Adjust

Winter quarter brings plenty of visible changes to the school—new classes, new weather, the constant promise of snow. However, most students forget about what could be the new quarter’s most exciting development: a new flock of Redhawks.

Typical incoming freshmen receive an in-depth orientation and an abundance of support from fellow students, faculty and departments. But those who transfer in have different needs, and the school consequently employs different approaches to help them get oriented.

The Department of Commuter and Student Transfer Life and Student Government of Seattle University (SGSU) transfer representative work in tandem to advocate for this often-underrepresented group.

“We have an updated email list so every quarter or every time we get a transfer, they are added to the list and they get all emails from me. So they’re welcomed to join [and] they’re encouraged to join any of the events that we have going on,” said Janie Bube, SGSU transfer representative.

As a student who transferred to Seattle U last year, she understands what the transfer students are going through.

“I’m very well aware of the disconnect between what is supposed to happen and then what happens. I know that it’s really hard for transfers to jump in and get acquainted, particularly if they do come in halfway through the year,” Bube said.

But that is not the only problem that transfer students face.

“SU is a fantastic school, but the school is designed for [students who come in as freshmen] and it’s a lot easier for them to make friends and go through the process. And a lot of times, transfers feel like they are on their own, particularly because a lot of them commute or they’re non-traditional as well, which means older, military,” Bube said.

Sometimes commuters have to adjust to the different educational setup that Seattle U has compared to their previous school, and new expectations and a change in academic rigor can present challenges.

“At first it was kind of hard because I had to adapt because the University of Oregon and Seattle is really different,” said junior social work major Pawinee Parnitudom, who transferred after her freshman year. “The classes are way smaller… In Oregon I’m used to a huge lecture hall with like 300 people and then having more classes, but here it’s smaller and you can discuss more and I feel the curriculum here is really in depth so it’s a lot harder than in Oregon.”

However, Parnitudom still believes that Seattle U was the right school for her all along.

“I’m really into community service… I thought that [Seattle U] would be a good choice. I didn’t really like the University of Oregon because it was way too big and the programs there like for social work wasn’t the way I wanted it,” said Parnitudom.

Along with adjusting to the curriculum, getting familiar with one’s surroundings can be challenging.

“The meet-ups were kind of hard because I would go and I wouldn’t really know where to go. I had to go to a specific place, which of course I didn’t know at first. But everything worked out fine,” she said.

Bube steps in to reach out to transfer students as much as she can.

“I am here for them just on a personal level if they want to talk and also on a student government level, if they want to change the system or attempt to change something or if they have events,” Bube said.

Having helpful resources can make the transitioning process easier.

“The process was good, the people are really nice,” Parnitudom said. “But it’s just harder because it’s a smaller school and it’s a new atmosphere so it’s kind of scary at first, but then I think it’s okay.”

Bube and the Department of Commuter and Student Transfer Life put on different social events and talks for transfer students.

“Going to some of the transfer events, I was able to make a few friends and get to know people in my classes. It made the transition a lot easier,” said Parnitudom.

Bube has several events already scheduled for this quarter, as well as some more abstract plans. However, she knows that not all transfers live on campus and have several jobs, which can hinder some from participating.

“There’s a lot of puzzle-fitting that goes along with events and you try to include as many people as you can,” she said. “In an ideal world you’d get everybody, but that’s not possible. But just keeping people well-informed is the best, like constantly sending emails out, I try sending out an email every week telling them what we’re doing and letting them know timing and payments so it does work. I try to send out surveys as well to see what they’re interested in and see what times work as well.”

Bube and the Department of Commuter and Student Transfer Life will continue to improve methods in helping transfer students feel right at home.

Bianca may be reached at [email protected]