Orientation introduces transfer students to ND community
Rachel O'Grady | Friday, August 19, 2016
Hearing “I have always wanted to go to Notre Dame” is not unusual on campus, but for senior Liz Hynes, who transferred to Notre Dame the fall of her sophomore year, this phrase has an entirely new meaning.
“Coming to campus as a student for the first time is completely surreal,” Hynes said. “Among transfers, you’ve got a lot of lifelong dreamers who’ve had to wait for a second chance, so we’re doubly grateful.”
Hynes said unlike typical undergraduate students, transfer students do not have the luxury of enjoying a full four years at Notre Dame.
“Get out of bed every day. There will be days when you’re sick or exhausted, and you’ll be tempted to stay in bed for 12 to 24 hours,” she said. “Don’t do it.”
Instead, Hynes said, she would advise new transfers to make the most of their time on campus.
“We will never be this rich in time and opportunity again, where we can write for a newspaper and join student government and create art with our friends and study things we’ve always been curious about,” she said. “Life won’t always let us do all of these things at once. Life will make us choose. Don’t do that one second before you have to. Do everything. Get out of bed.”
Junior Emily Schneider transferred last fall from Kansas State University, a school she said “could not have been more different than Notre Dame.”
“I did not know what to expect from such a transition, but I immediately felt as if I belonged at Notre Dame and felt like a member of the Notre Dame family,” Schneider said.
This year, Schneider, along with 24 other transfer students from previous years, will be leading the new transfers through their orientation process.
“Transfer orientation helps so much and really helped me to feel like a second year student, instead of like a freshman again,” Schneider said. “It really helps students make strong friendships and bonds with other transfers in the same situation. I met some of my best friends during transfer orientation and could not be more grateful for the experience.”
Instead of going through orientation with their respective dorms, transfers are divided up into small groups called “transfer families,” according to junior and transfer orientation leader Nick Olmanson.
“The thing that I am most excited about is meeting all the new students in my transfer family. Leaders are grouped in twos and are combined with about six or seven new students to create a family,” Olmanson said.
Olmanson said he hopes to be a good resource to his transfer family, even beyond orientation.
“Last year my transfer family was pretty close. We organized dinners throughout the year and I hope to be able to build friendships like those,” he said.
Transfer families tend to stay close, and Olmanson said several students from his transfer family went on to be co-rec flag football champions that year.
“My transfer family was very influential for me and everyone I met got along great,” he said. “I remained close friends with them as the year went on. The leaders last year did a great job and my transfer parents specifically made me want to be a leader to give that great experience to the next transfer class.”
Olmanson also said he encourages transfers to reach out to people in their dorms.
“I am lucky to have a bunch of great guys living in my dorm as well. I was able to meet them pretty early on in the year, so that made the transition easy,” Olmanson said.
Hynes said the separation between the incoming freshmen and the transfer class is key.
“While some other schools lump transfers in with incoming freshmen, Notre Dame keeps in mind that these students have already spent time in college and don’t need to start from square one,” Hynes said. “They’re already aces at college, otherwise they wouldn’t have been accepted as transfers. So we make sure they get an experience that assists specifically with their transition to Notre Dame.”
Hynes described the welcome luncheon of transfer orientation as “the happiest room in the world.”
“The energy that everyone’s sharing — the excitement, the anxiety, the relief at finally being here — it’s incredibly special,” Hynes said.
Senior Jake Wagner, who transferred to Notre Dame for the 2014-2015 academic year, said he advises new transfer students not to get overwhelmed by the process.
“I know I was very overwhelmed, and thought I wasn’t cut out for Notre Dame,” Wagner said. “Transferring to Notre Dame can be a very difficult transition for a lot of people, but things get better. Don’t forget that you have the transfer network here to help you.”