The University Record, September 10, 1996

Panelists provide advice to transfer students

Randy Juip explained to transfer students last week that 'Michigan time' starts 10 minutes later than the rest of the world.

Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle

By Janet Nellis Mendler
News and Information Services


Where do I go to find out which credits transfer? Who decides if any of my classes will be equivalent to what's offered here? How can I most easily make friends if I'm living off campus?

Students transferring to the University arrive with some of the same questions as first-year students, and with similar uncertainties about their ability to handle the academic work.

To assuage those concerns, Welcome to Michigan coordinator Jennifer Bucklin Cross gathered panelists for a special Welcome Week program where veterans of the transfer experience shared advice and insights. They told new students what "Michigan time" means; not to buy books before classes start; to be prepared to immerse yourself in an e-mail culture; and that the same building may have two or more names.

While the 40 attendees at Sunday's session share the transfer experience, they came from a range of institutions---Notre Dame, the University of Missouri, Michigan State, Central Michigan and Northern Michigan universities, Port Huron, Lansing, Henry Ford and other community colleges in Michigan, tiny Simon's Rock College, and from a number of foreign institutions. Several students said they transferred because their previous institutions lacked diversity, both in composition of the student body and in course offerings.

"Coming to Michigan was the right career move for me," said Brant Blomberg, whose former college didn't offer a degree in chemical engineering. Jennifer Moore pointed to the quality of the theater program, while Aaron Goulet had lived in Ann Arbor while his mother attended medical school and wanted to return.

Michigan time, according to senior panelist Randy Juip, who transferred from the U-M-Dearborn, means that "everything starts 10 minutes after the hour. So if someone says there's a meeting at 3 p.m., it will start at 3:10. It's just a different clock."

One friend will suggest meeting at the UGLI, another at the Shapiro Library, but both are talking about the same building, Juip pointed out. A student complains about her TA, another about his GSI and both are talking about the same person.

Buying books before classes start may mean futile trips to the "wrong" bookstore. "Don't expect all your books to be available at one store; your professor will tell you where the books for his or her class can be purchased," said panelist Hallie Lipin, who transferred as a second-semester freshman from Boston University.

The third panelist, Sonja Johnson, a senior in English, came to U-M after spending two years at community college in Grand Rapids, her hometown, and working for two years before that. "I had been on my own for four years, so I didn't want to live in a dorm, but being off-campus made making friends harder," she said. Initially, that wasn't her prime concern. "I was more worried about how I would do in my classes, but after the first couple of weeks, I realized that I could do the work, that I really did know how to study."

The panelists assured the attendees that despite some initial concerns, their previous college work had equipped them to tackle the academic load. Johnson urged the students to take advantage of faculty office hours to get to know professors and TAs. "Find one person who cares about your successa friend, a TA, a professor, to whom you can turn when you need help and when you just want to talk about what's happening in your life. You CAN make connections," Cross advised.

Juip, a senior majoring in social science and history, said his most difficult adjustment was adapting to what he called the University's "unique way of doing business. There is never one place to get your questions answered, and you soon learn that Michigan is highly decentralized in some areas, equally as centralized in others. The University has its own rhythm."

Lipin, a junior in English and communication, pointed out that "help is everywhere," adding that the Office of New Student Programs will be an important focal point for transfer students. "Don't ever be afraid to ask questions." She praised the availability of the University's counseling services for both academic and personal problems. "And take computer classes at the Library, learn as much as you can about e-mail, conducting research on the computer."

Juip and Lipin chose to connect by immersing themselves in activities as soon as they arrived on campus. After moving through the ranks, Juip is president of the Residence Hall Association, the second largest student government organization on campus; Lipin is vice president for publicity of the University Activities Center (UAC). Both said the opportunity to become involved was the primary impetus for their transfers. Juip found the largely commuter Dearborn campus didn't offer the types of activities he wanted; Lipin described Boston University as a two-mile long series of buildings devoid of the traditional campus atmosphere she envisioned.

No program for new students would be complete without mention of Wolverine sports. Johnson told the group that they shouldn't expect good seats, but suggested that anyone interested in attending football and basketball games should send in their ticket request with a friend. "That way you'll be sitting next to someone you know."