As a transfer student, do you sometimes feel like you just parachuted into a busy street with everyone else walking at a double-step pace toward places and people that you are still figuring out? Do you feel like you are behind others when it comes to picking your classes, knowing the professors, getting things done here, or even landing the best parking spots? And because you are trying to catch up on those basics of UMBC life, do you feel that you are not in a great position to land an internship or plan your grad school strategy?
If so, join the club! Transfer students have big challenges and little time. The good news is your feeling of being in perpetual catch-up mode can prompt you to look for those “difference-making” actions to accelerate your progress . Although your action plan will be individual to you and your goals, here are three big areas for difference-making action that should be on every transfer student’s plan:
Difference- Maker #1: Earning Solid Grades. Academic Performance. GPA.
Grades matter. Why? Good grades open many doors—doors to scholarships, internships, grad schools, professional schools, and that first professional position.
Therefore starting off with and maintaining a high GPA at UMBC could be the “granddaddy” of all difference-makers when it comes to remaining academically competitive for the really good stuff to come after graduation.
The good news: A new transfer student starts off with a blank slate, a brand new fresh GPA here at UMBC. Although credits earned elsewhere will follow you here, the grades do not.
One of the best ways to maximize your chances of a strong GPA is to keep your course load manageable.
Also, do not hesitate to look for help if you feel your academic performance is slipping!
Difference-Maker #2 Building a Strong Resume and Portfolio
Like all UMBC students, you need to build a portfolio of interesting and applied career-related activities. Put bluntly, you need to have something on your life resume beyond classes and grades! The challenge for the transfer student is packing these “extras” into the limited time you have before graduation.
The good news: You may have already started some activities that are resume-worthy.
Part-time jobs, summer camp positions, volunteering efforts, foreign language skills, special computer programming or website building abilities, social networking flair, money-raising talents, unique ethnic cooking skills, travel abroad – all of these are valid and valuable when it comes to your overall career development portfolio. The next big step is for you here at UMBC is to plunge right into more action taking. Here are some excellent links to get you started:
Difference-Maker #3 Strong Relationships with Faculty & Staff
If you parachute into UMBC as a sophomore or junior, you have to move quickly to build the kinds of relationships with professors and professional staff that will lead to convincing letters of recommendation. And letters of recommendation are key to competitive internships, graduate school admission and fellowships, and all sorts of other opportunities. Like other human relationships, faculty-student relationships can’t be forced. You need to seek genuine connections with faculty based on shared intellectual interests and mutual respect.
The good news: Just by attending class faithfully, participating actively, and earning strong grades, you will be getting off to an excellent start in bonding with faculty!
Faculty office hours can provide a natural forum for conversations related to topics covered in class or in readings. In addition you have the option to set up an individual appointment. Even if a professor is not your official advisor, you can get another opinion about academic choices. In an ideal situation, hopefully you can take several courses with a professor you really like, connect with, and earn high grades from. This professor goes to the head of the list of potential recommendation-writers.
Other benefits of strong relationships with faculty include:
•Consideration for research and independent study opportunities
•Advance or insider information about new courses, curriculum changes
•Advice or tips on paper topics, study strategies
•Assistance in developing post-graduate plans
•Leftover Halloween candy! (a small benefit, but still a good one…)
Professional staff at UMBC can also prove invaluable, so seek them out as well. Professional academic advisors, career counselors, service learning professionals, and many others can help you solve problems, save time, navigate the processes here, and sometimes these folks turn out to be useful recommenders too.
ADDITIONAL EXCELLENT RESOURCES FOR TRANSFER STUDENTS AT UMBC
CAREER WEEK (April 7-11, 2014)
EXTRA CREDIT DISCUSSION QUESTION
What actions, resources, or activities have you found most helpful to your success at UMBC? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below!