Thursday, July 30, 2009
So...second time's the charm. The theme of my second-year transfer applications was "a school with a campus." I hadn't applied to UVA the first time around, but I considered it the second time around because it was a really popular school for people at my high school to apply to and because it was ranked pretty high. I sat in on two classes and went on a tour here after I applied, and even then, I still wasn't completely sold. Every tour guide I ever had/my college counselor always said "You'll know if a school's right for you as soon as you take a tour and step foot on the campus." Maybe in a dream world. There was never a school that I toured that I completely fell in love with, and UVA was no exception. I only began to really like UVA after being here for a month.
So life story aside, I'll answer questions I frequently get...
Resources the School Offers
In the summer before you start classes, all transfer students are assigned a TSPA (Transfer Student Peer Advisor) which is a student who transferred to UVA who is there for any random questions. They'll do a few events in the fall to get all the transfer students together such as a cook-off at Gooch/Dillard before the first football game.
In terms of housing, you can choose to live in University housing or off-grounds housing. The housing department does guarantee housing for transfer students, and spots are reserved for transfer students in Gooch/Dillard which is at the end of Alderman Road close to the stadium. This has been true of the past years although starting this year, because of the construction of new first-year dorms on Alderman Road, some of those spots have been given to first years. Nevertheless, they do make an effort to house all transfers together.
I lived in Hereford Residential College (unfortunately, this is no longer a housing option for transfers) which was right next door to Gooch/Dillard where the transfers living in on-grounds housing lived. I would highly encourage transfer students to live in on-grounds housing because I met a lot of my really good friends from eating at the nearby Runk dining hall, and it was nice that they lived only a short walk away from where I was living.
As a transfer student, it's like you're a first year minus all the programming you would do as a first year. Yes, the TSPAs had a couple of transfer events, but really it's up to you to make the most of your experience. Transfer students who have a better transition are generally the ones that went out and joined something they were interested in rather than waiting for good things to happen. UVA is a medium-sized school, 13,000 undergrads, and any effort you make to join a club/organization makes the school feel a little smaller. Because our campus is so centralized, you'll see faces you recognize from the clubs/organizations you join on a regular basis as you're going from class to class. For the most part, I think our student body is pretty outgoing and friendly which makes meeting people just that much easier.
What really helped my transition was choosing to minor in dance. The dance department is a smaller department, and it was like being part of a family. I took a lot of dance classes because I didn't have a dance minor at my previous school, so I was a year behind. Through those dance classes and the spring dance show that I ended performing in I met a lot of people. It was a way to pursue my passion for dance but at the same time a way to meet people.
Meeting people aside, there were times when I felt lost with various things like being pre-med or studying abroad. What I was surprised with was that there was pretty much an advisor or peer advisor/mentor program that I could turn to when I had questions through University Career Services and the International Studies Office and even the pre-med club I joined and the Arts & Sciences Council. Just knowing that there's a person who can help you out should you need it was comforting.
If you're wondering how/what credits will transfer, I would encourage you to visit the transfer credit analyzer at http://www.web.virginia.edu/analyzer/. It will show you all the credits that we've historically evaluated and accepted from your school. It's not a comprehensive list; it's just a list of credits transfer students have come in with before. A general rule is if it's a generic class (ie. General Biology, Introduction to ____, etc.) we will most likely accept it. In evaluating your credit, UVA tries to find a class that's offered here that is the equivalent of what it was at your school judging by your course's syllabus.
One part of the transfer credit analyzer that people call in with questions about is what the "special status" part means. The "NO" does NOT mean "No, we do not accept this credit." It means that it does not meet the "Non-Western Perspectives" (NW) or "Historical Studies" requirement (HS). If the class shows up on the list, then that means we accept it. "Non-western perspectives" and "historical studies" are area requirements that the College of Arts & Sciences requires all students complete. If you have questions about area requirements, please see http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/college/requirements/area/index.html .
If you all have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or any of the other pertaining posts, and I or the other summer guides would be happy to answer your questions.