In the weeks leading up to the NISTS 2021 virtual annual conference, we're highlighting the transfer stories of this year's National Transfer Student Ambassadors. All four students will attend the conference and participate in a student panel conversation during concurrent session five on Thursday, February 25th. You can read more about Michael's story and meet the other 2021 ambassadors on the NISTS Blog.
What’s your major? Why did you choose it, and what do you hope to do after graduation?
Hello, My name is Michael Morgan, and I am a Senior at Oglethorpe University, majoring in Political Science. Political science, for me, represented the opportunity to gain a better understanding of civic engagement. As a Black man living in these United States, I believe acquiring that knowledge to be extremely important. Not only for myself but for my entire community. After graduation, I plan to continue my education and work towards a Master’s degree in Education Policy.
What were your concerns about changing schools? What was most difficult about transferring/ acclimating to a new campus?
My biggest concerns about changing schools were how many credits I could transfer in and how long it would take me to complete my degree. After transferring twice, It felt like the time was ticking down, and the end was not in sight. That concern turned out to be not as concerning as time moved on. I realized that I am running my race at my pace and that the time I spent at Oglethorpe will have a positive impact on the rest of my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without Oglethorpe or going where I am going without their faculty and staff’s guidance. The finish line is near, and it has come quicker than I could have ever imagined.
The most challenging part about acclimating to Oglethorpe’s campus is the cultural change from a more-populated institution to a less-populated institution. Less-populated institutions are more intimate and require a heightened level of presence. I was very acclimated to coming and going leisurely. Habits that quickly changed during my time at Oglethorpe.
What did you do to find support and community on campus?
I was fortunate enough to apply for Oglethorpe’s Transfer Student Ambassador position within the first week of my transferring. Being selected for that position, I built relationships within the academic success department with students and staff. My general advice for any student trying to build community and find a support system on any campus is to find clubs and organizations that align with your goals and interests. By far, my best experience at Oglethorpe is the relationships I have been able to build. A lot of my opportunities and my sense of support/community come from those relationships. My story would not be the same without them; I am very humbled and grateful for that.
What do you wish you had known before transferring?
It is crucial to think about your needs as a student and human being when deciding to transfer to another institution. Does the school you plan to transfer to cater to those needs? What aspects of this new environment complement your learning style, and what may be some challenges during your transition? I suggest you delve deep into who you are and what you want/need from an academic space before coming to or leaving any educational institution.
What one piece of advice would you give students who are considering a transfer between schools? What about the faculty and staff who work with transfer students?
My advice for students considering transferring is to research themselves and follow that up with research on potential universities. Know why you’re transferring. Know what things you need in an academic space to contribute positively to your performance and overall happiness. Research potential universities to ensure they can provide those things. Reach out to students who attend the universities you are considering transferring to. Learn as much about the classroom and social experience as you can to make an informed choice.
For faculty and staff, I would say go out of your way to help transfer students understand their new university’s culture. There were times during my first semester after transferring to Oglethorpe that I was doing the best I could. Still, I was working in a way that was not necessarily conducive to success in my new learning environment. I was very thankful for the patience of various faculty and staff members who would take the time to acknowledge me as a transfer student and provide me with feedback on how to better succeed in my new environment.