Transfer students at UT-Austin miss out on in-person experiences this fall

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Photo Credit: Cynthia Treviño | Daily Texan Staff

Transfer students at UT would normally experience in-person transfer orientation and social events to find their place at campus, but this fall they are being forced to adapt to an unusual semester.  

Jeff Mayo, assistant director of the Transfer-Year Experience Program in the School of Undergraduate Studies, said he has heard from transfer students that they have struggled to connect with the University and other students because classes are mostly online and they cannot attend in-person social gatherings.

“Transfer students might be in a junior-level class online with students who have been working together for one or two years,” Mayo said. “They’ve already created those connections, so it’s a lot more difficult to break into those social groups in your courses and in your departments.”

Mayo said the University has Transfer-Year Interest Groups, similar to First-Year Interest Groups, but these groups have less resources and fewer students participating in them. 

“Transfer students have fewer opportunities to participate in support programs than their first-time-in-college peers,” Mayo said. 

Mary Ann Hurtado, an international relations and global studies junior, said she previously attended Lone Star College-University Park. When she received her acceptance to UT this June, she knew her experience would be different, she said.

“I didn’t really have a lot of time to socialize (at Lone Star),” Hurtado said. “It was a very tight-knit small community, so I was really looking forward to exploring UT as a whole with thousands of students meeting.” 

 

Pranjal Shelly, an economics and finance sophomore, said he transferred from Southern Methodist University because he didn’t enjoy his freshman year experience.

“College is a lonely time, but I think coming here as a transfer student is more lonely for me,” Shelly said. “I want to branch out, and I can’t do that, really.”

Shelly said UT had virtual orientation events to help students meet people and familiarize themselves with campus. He said his transfer process has been smooth otherwise.

“Even though classes are online and I’m not meeting people, I definitely do feel more at home here,” Shelly said. “At first I was nervous. (I knew) classes were going to be pretty hard and take some adjustment, but once classes started, I didn’t feel like that.”

Hurtado said she has not faced big challenges with classes, and she has one class in person, which helps her campus experience.

“I’m glad I still get to have a slice of the traditional UT experience,” she said. “Just meeting new people is the biggest (challenge) because that’s one of the perks of coming to UT. I feel really privileged to be able to have (these concerns) because I do get to live on campus.”