The transition from community college to a four-year institute can be challenging for some students. While some students relish and thrive in their new learning environment, others struggle to adapt to the changes that come with a larger university.
Students who once learned material in a smaller class setting are now expected to ingest information among a larger crowd.
Peers who shared laughs and memorable moments in a more intimate setting are now greeted with new faces in their new, unfamiliar surroundings.
This can cause students to become eager, forcing them to adapt to their new learning and social environment and alter their expectation of college in general.
Will Sellers, junior in animal sciences, said that upon his arrival from Southern Union State Community College in Opelika, he was anxious to form lifelong friendships.
“I was very anxious for the fact that I didn’t have a social life,” Sellers said. “When I attended a local community college, I had many friends, and the environment was close knit.”
Sellers said he made it his mission during his first semester to make new friends.
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“I know that there are over 30,000 students at Auburn, so I was confident that I would meet at least a couple of like-minded individuals,” Sellers said.
At Southern Union, Sellers worked as a media specialist in the library for three years.
“I knew almost everyone by name and was able to assist everyone,” Sellers said. “From there, I was able to form friendships with everyone at school because the school was much smaller, and I was friends with almost everyone. It felt homely and tighter knit as opposed to Auburn.”
Transfer shock refers to a temporary plunge in both the transfers’ social and academic life. This experience has had an effect on college students across the nation.
Terrance Butler, sophomore in forensic science, experienced the phenomenon for himself during his first semester after transferring from Chattahoochee Valley Community College in the fall 2019 semester.
“My first semester at [Auburn] challenged me academically and socially,” Butler said. “All my friends were back in Phenix City, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia. Last semester, I would walk down the Quad and feel completely out of my element.”
Out of his element and at a much larger school, Butler said he had trouble making new friends.
“I like to be familiar with my environment, so I enjoy communicating with those around me, but I didn’t know anybody on campus,” Butler said. “I even searched for students who attended my old school, but the campus is humongous.”
Though his GPA did not drop significantly, Butler said he noticed a dip, which he attributed to his transfer to a four-year university.
“My social and academic life shifted a great deal once I transferred to Auburn,” Sellers said. “I went from hanging out with friends regularly from Southern Union to not having any friends at all at Auburn.”
Sellers said this affected his academics.
“My academic life was affected as well once I transferred,” Sellers said. “Personally, Auburn’s curriculum is a bit more challenging than Southern Union’s. I managed to do well in all my classes, but the pace was faster than the pace at Southern Union.”
It took Sellers a semester to feel acquainted and prepared for the University’s academic expectations.
“I paced myself and developed better study habits,” Sellers said. “Transferring from Southern Union to Auburn has forced me to mature overnight because of the heavy demands.”
With a larger population came more diversity, according to Sellers.
“I have never experienced diversity to this magnitude,” Sellers said. “[I] have friends from different backgrounds, but we all share common goals. I have made friends from Asia, India and Africa, and we enjoy each other’s company a great deal.”
Sellers said that these experiences have helped him grow as a person and have prepared him more for the real world.
“In the real world, society is made up of different races and ethnicities,” Sellers said.
He believes Auburn has better prepared him for this.
“The transition from CVCC to Auburn was not easy, but I learned a lot,” Butler said. “I learned the importance of having a one-on-one relationship with my professors and advisor, especially since I am at a bigger school. I learned a lot about those who are a part of various cultures and how to communicate with them effectively. Those experiences taught me how to be an effective communicator, which is a tool I will use in the real world.”
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