Transfer students, we have to do better


Kernel Opinions Sig

When I first became opinions editor at the Kernel, I set out with a goal to write columns advocating for transfer students. I saw a lack of support and networking for people like myself when I got to UK, and I wanted so desperately to change it.

I came in to UK as a junior, with an associates degree in journalism from West Kentucky Community and Technical College. When I arrived, I wrote that UK didn’t have enough resources for transfer students, that K Week seriously lacked support for us, that faculty didn’t know how to handle us and that graduation honors discriminated against us. I’d like to add to this now.

Yes, UK can do better for its transfer students. But we aren’t doing our best either.

After writing the columns and receiving warm feedback, I met with some dedicated faculty and staff who work behind the scenes to make sure things like K Week are a success for transfer students. I became an officer in a club on campus dedicated to transfer and international student success. I saw a lot of work going into transfer student success at UK, and I jumped in to try to make a difference.

Unfortunately, I was massively disappointed. While I saw UK personnel working to make people coming from other schools feel welcome here, I saw transfer students unwilling and unable to come out of their shells. I saw painfully low attendance at events geared towards community. I saw apathy. And it has grieved me.

As transfer students, we face a unique set of challenges. If you’re like me and others who came in after finishing community college, you’re thrust into a new environment halfway through your college career and you struggle to re-adjust, make new friends and figure out your new role in a new place and possible a new city. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s twice as hard the second time around to make a name for yourself. It’s easier to just sit back and reflect on your successes at a previous school and not invest the time necessary to have them at UK.

I know firsthand how hard these challenges are. I also know that it’s incredibly worth the extra effort to get involved and find your people. Yes, it’s hard to come in as a junior or a non-freshman and be a first-year-at-UK student but have college experience. It can be polarizing by nature. But there are resources for us. We need to be proactive and seek them out.

It’s not all on us, of course. I still say there’s much to be done in-house to make transfer students feel more welcome here at UK. My argument that graduation honors discriminate holds true. As for K Week and other events, there have been efforts in the past to make space for transfer students, and they were met with no attendance.

We cannot demand acceptance and then refuse to receive it.

As I prepare to graduate in May, I choose to end my print columns with this call to action: transfer students, be proactive. You’ll have to work harder, but it’s worth it. Yes, UK can do more. But so can we. We have to show up, seek out resources and be 100 percent present in our new school. It will be harder than if you were at UK for all four years, but it’s worth seeking out community here. It will take all transfer students working together to influence change on campus. We can do better, and we must.