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150 transfer students adjust to life at Notre Dame

Tess Civantos | Saturday, August 21, 2010

As some 2,000 freshmen swarm campus for Freshman Orientation, another group of students will also take their first steps as Domers — but they’re not freshmen and they might not even live on campus.

They’re transfer students, part of the 150 students who are newcomers to campus this weekend, ready to enjoy a miniature version of Freshman Orientation known as “Transfer-O.”

This year’s transfer students come from schools all across the nation, junior Catherine Hicks, who is on the Transfer-O committee, said.

The students from Southern universities might be unpleasantly surprised by their switch to South Bend’s colder climate, but Hicks said bad weather is not the worst problem transfer students will face. They might find themselves with no place to live on campus.

“Half the incoming transfers each year don’t get housing,” Hicks said. “The Notre Dame dorms suffer from overcrowding.”

Whether they live on campus or off, the transfer students have a busy few days ahead of them.

The Transfer-O agenda includes a welcome Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a scavenger hunt, learning Notre Dame football cheers and a trip to the Indiana dunes.

Though Transfer-O is similar to Freshmen Orientation in many ways, its focus is different.

“Frosh-O is a lot more about dorm bonding,” Hicks said. “Transfer-O is about quickly getting adapted to Notre Dame.”

There are also a few hidden perks to entering Notre Dame with a year of college already under the belt.

“Transfers don’t have to go to Domerfest or take the swim test,” Hicks said.

Senior Megan Osterhout, who transferred from Saint Mary’s College two years ago and is a Transfer-O commissioner this year, said Notre Dame made her transition smooth.

“I have honestly never felt a more welcoming experience in my life,” she said. “Transfers are my best friends now.”

Other transfer students said they enjoyed a similarly smooth transition – in spite of concerns they had about transferring.

“Transferring is like jumping into a game at halftime. You’re looking at everything through the eyes of a freshman, but you’re not a freshman,” Senior Ian Heraty, who transferred Notre Dame from University of Illinois Springfield, said.

Like most new students, Heraty said he was nervous coming to a new school and going through the orientation process.

“I was nervous going into it,” he said. “But it turned out to be a total blast.”

Heraty is sharing his transfer experiences with this year’s newcomers as the leader of a “Transfer family” in Transfer-O.

The transfer families, groups of about 10 students, will compete in a game of “Transfer Family Feud” and will help each other adjust as they transition to a new school.

For those new to campus this weekend, Transfer-O committee members urged all new students – transfer and freshmen – to dive right into campus life.

“The thing with transferring to Notre Dame is that it’s what you make of it,” Hicks said.