Starting anew at UC Berkeley: Advice for transfers and re-entry students

Transfer-Students_Michael-Drummond
Michael Drummond/File

As orientation comes to an end, let the Clog be the next ones to welcome all of you wonderful transfer and re-entry students to UC Berkeley! You definitely belong here.

As a transfer student at UC Berkeley, it can feel overwhelming to get your start at the No. 1 public university in the world … and realize you only have two years to do all the amazing things you want to do. (In half the time of the other students!)

But it’s not impossible — you just need to get organized! We at the Clog are here to help you do just that.

Visit the Transfer and Re-entry Student Center 

The Transfer Student Center is your number one spot for all things transfer and re-entry-related. It even has a place for student-parents to bring their kids while they study and tables for you to eat and work. There are also plenty of helpful workshops and transition classes that the Transfer Student Center hosts throughout the semester. Don’t be too afraid to go to these sessions. During my first semester, I attended just about every event available, and it actually really helped me out in the long run.

Sign up for Berkeley Connect or transfer classes

Berkeley Connect has a longstanding history of helping transfer and re-entry students really find their place on campus. These one unit courses involve students meeting with others with similar interests and backgrounds for an hour every week, with free food and a graduate student mentor to help facilitate discussions about student life and what it means to study within your major and be as successful as possible here at school!

Go to office hours

This may seem like an obvious point, but attending your professor’s office hours at community college or a smaller private university can feel vastly different from attending them at UC Berkeley when you first transfer. For me personally, I went from being someone who felt very comfortable hanging out with professors at my junior college to suddenly feeling very timid about even approaching my new professors after class at UC Berkeley. Being in a school that has large class sizes and a great deal of renown, especially when you’re divided into working directly with Graduate Student Instructors (GSI’s) that serve as a buffer between you and your professors, it can feel like you’re bothering your professors with stupid or simple questions. Don’t fall for it: most of your professors are delighted to have students come in to see them, and as awkward as it may feel at first, it’s a wonderful habit to build relationships with your instructors.

Go to the Career Center

The Career Center is located just across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union and is horribly underutilized by many students. Don’t wait until your last semester to start visiting — start right away. There are plenty of workshops and peer advisors who can help you up your resume game, find internships and even obtain campus jobs. The career counselors are also available to help you make sure you’re on the right track towards your career goals. That, combined with your own major and college advising, can really be invaluable help so that you graduate with experience and end up on a path you’re happy to be on.

Fight Imposter Syndrome

Feel under-qualified? Apply for it anyway. This counts for scholarships, internships, study abroad programs, clubs and activities, anything. Speaking from personal experience, starting at UC Berkeley can initially feel like you got in by mistake. As you enter your first classrooms and find yourself no longer the smartest student in any room, you can begin to feel like you have no right to be here, or feel like you’re two years behind all of the traditional students on campus. This simply isn’t true. All of us older students have something to offer that many of our younger, new friends don’t, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make friends of all ages, and you’ll be just fine.

Contact Lauren West at [email protected].