Transferring is both an exciting and challenging time for students. This year has called for many adjustments and shifts in our lifestyles in response to the pandemic, which makes transferring seem like an even more daunting process when it has to be done remotely. However, the University of Massachusetts offers its transfer students many opportunities to gain support and build a community — even from a distance. If you are a student interested in transferring, keep reading for some advice from me, a transfer student in my second year at UMass, and transfer admissions counselor Amanda Haskins:
Researching UMass Amherst
When you’re considering transferring, researching institutions that might be of interest is essential to understanding where to apply. There are so many ways to research UMass Amherst and gain a better understanding of our community. The university has many social media pages — including specific ones for most of the academic units on campus—take advantage of these! Virtual events are another great way to meet current students and faculty to better understand our community. Haskins adds that throughout Fall 2020, potential transfers can take part in MassTransfer Monday and Transfer Thursday. These half-hour information sessions help students learn more about UMass Amherst and the application process.
"Students are also encouraged to contact their transfer admissions counselor with any questions or concerns about the university, applying, transferring, or anything else they are wondering about," adds Haskins.
In my personal experience as a transfer student, I was able to research UMass Amherst and all of its programs while sitting in my dorm at my previous college. I would advise students looking to transfer to first create a list for the reasons they would like to do so. This could be financial, major related, or simply to seek a new environment (and you don’t need one solidified reason). I transferred so I could attend the Isenberg School of Management and take advantage of the opportunities I could explore as a marketing major. When I was considering transferring I looked at the curriculum that I would get to take — especially in my junior and senior years of college. I was thrilled when researching UMass to find how closely the marketing major fit my criteria and educational goals! The first step to the process is acknowledging you want to transfer, and the second is to identify some of your reasons and research them to the best of your ability. This will help you narrow down your choices when looking at schools, and gain relevant information for making your decision.
Virtual Campus Tours
UMass Amherst is holding nearly all classes remotely at the time I'm writing this, however, this does not mean you cannot see the campus! I was at my previous college in the middle of spring semester when I decided to transfer — with no mode of transportation to get to UMass. I got a feel for the campus through talking to some alumni that had graduated a few years earlier, and also going through their virtual tours. I find online resources helpful, and you should definitely take advantage of these. If you are able to schedule a time to talk with alumni, current students, and faculty — these are the best ways to create a connection and get a better understanding of UMass.
You can get additional insight into what it is like to be a student here through various ways. We offer events including Conversations with UMass and Virtual Guided Student UMass Visits, where prospective students can learn more about the university from current students. I would also encourage prospective students to follow our Instagram page @UMassAdmissions for student takeovers, fun facts, student perspectives about attending school here, and admissions deadlines. UMass Amherst has done its best to provide the best resources for you at hand, and encourages you to reach out and take part in these events!
How are current transfer students adjusting?
Currently I'm living at home while taking classes remotely, so I wondered what starting remotely at UMass this fall semester would be like for newly transferred students. According to Amanda Haskins, the university has taken this challenge into account.
"UMass understands the difficulties imposed on transfer students — who already are facing changes, and now even more so with remote learning. However, we have a number of ways we are helping our new transfer students to adjust and integrate into the university. New transfer students starting during Fall 2020 attended an online orientation program that helped to familiarize them with campus resources, student portal systems, and other helpful electronic tools that can continue to support them in their online learning," says Haskins.
"Additionally, the Undergraduate Student Success office has begun a newsletter and a dedicated website to help support transfer students throughout their transition to UMass Amherst. The website provides information on how to connect with the UMass Amherst community, academic support, technology support, and tips and tricks on how to maintain a healthy wellbeing during the pandemic, and throughout the transition to a new university. Campus clubs and organizations have shifted online as well, and we encourage new students to join and take part in building the best virtual community we can!" she adds.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is not easy to transfer and find that your time to make connections and build a community is cut short! I can also tell you though that by balancing transferring and being remote on top of that; it offers space for lots of growth. If anything in this time, and especially this semester, I have really been able to engage in my classes and create something valuable of what I learn. I know you might say: Isn’t that the goal of college anyways? However, sometimes on campus, time can be lost in balancing all aspects of life including social, personal, and academic. While this is an important skill to learn in time management, I also think it is important to sometimes step back and be alone, so you can really grasp what it is you want to do. This semester has allowed me to do that exactly, with just focusing on my classes. I am getting a better sense as to what I hope to do one day. So while it is not easy it is also not impossible; transferring takes courage itself and this can be an opportunity for tremendous individual growth.
The UMass Amherst Transfer Application has a personal statement where applicants talk about who they are as an individual. I wrote my personal statement within a week, and while I don’t recommend rushing it, if you're writing from your experiences and aspirations it comes naturally. I talked about my reasons for transferring to UMass and what they had to offer that stood out to me — using specific examples. I approached the personal statement as a story, which immersed the reader into my experiences from being lost in my academic career and finally finding somewhere I felt like I could prosper.
"We intentionally do not provide a specific prompt for the personal statement, because we want students to take the opportunity to share with us any information they may want us to know during the admission review that we wouldn’t necessarily know from seeing just the application and transcript. Many times, students use this space to tell us about why they want to transfer, what their career goals are, how they have overcome challenges or obstacles in their lives, and a variety of other information they feel is important to share," Haskins explains.
"If students have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and they want us to know about it, then the personal statement is a great way to share that information with us. This part of the application serves as a great way to tell us more about yourselves!" she adds.
COIVD-19 has presented students globally with many hurdles, so here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to avoid common challenges:
Apply early and request application materials to be sent early. COVID-19 has infamously delayed mail and many electronic processes — so it is important to get things submitted sooner rather than later. Now more than ever it is crucial to stay on top of deadlines!
If you are having trouble requesting transcripts or getting any documents to UMass, reach out to your transfer admissions counselor and let them know. UMass will try to assist you and provide guidance.
Many colleges and universities have moved to a pass/fail grading system, and students have been concerned that those credits won’t be transferable. This is not the case at UMass Amherst. Transfer admissions understands that COVID-19 has presented many academic challenges to students, so courses that are successfully completed on a pass/fail basis are eligible for transfer credit.
If you are struggling with making a decision as to whether to apply for a transfer or not, reach out to the admissions counselors — that is what they are here for. If you can, try to get in touch with students through our virtual events and learn as much as possible (feel free to email me as well with any questions). Take action and control over your decision and approach it with confidence, after all we are all learning to adjust in this time and are in this together. Good luck to you through this process, you got this!