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Transfer students introduced to ND tradition through Welcome Weekend

| Friday, August 23, 2019

This Welcome Weekend, Notre Dame’s transfer tradition is continued as 196 transfers arrive to begin their first year at the University. Among their predecessors are University President Fr. John Jenkins, University Provost Thomas Burish and Rudy.

Beginning with Thursday night’s Welcome Mass and Dinner with Jenkins, a flurry of events awaits the transfers. Transfer Welcome Weekend captain Emma Mazurek said she is most excited for the “ND Traditions” event to take place Sunday before the all-class Grotto visit.

“First, we’re going to have an ND traditions intro and teach them all of the fun things that make Notre Dame unique, and then we’re going to transition into more of a reflective time,” Mazurek said. “We’re going to have ambassadors come and share their reflections on what Notre Dame means to them, what the Notre Dame family means to them, what the Grotto trip means to them and the importance and significance of the Grotto at Notre Dame.”

Events such as “ND Traditions” allow transfer students to make their transition into full-fledged Notre Dame students, while other events simply give students an opportunity to socialize and meet their new classmates. Socializing events include bowling at Strikes and Spares in South Bend, Broomball in the Compton Family Ice Arena and Domerfest.

Lauren Donahue, program director for new student engagement, said in an email the events planned for Welcome Weekend seek to help diverse groups of students arriving on campus adjust to their community.

“Transfer Welcome Weekend is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of all incoming students who are transferring to the University. As a group, their familiarity with the culture of Notre Dame varies. Additionally, the length of time these students attended another institution before coming to Notre Dame varies,” Donahue said. “ … I want all of our incoming students, including transfer students, to find a sense of connection and belonging at Notre Dame, and that starts with Welcome Weekend.”

Anthony Bell, one of this year’s captains for Transfer Welcome Weekend who is now participating in his fourth Transfer Welcome Weekend, said the Welcome Weekend events challenged him to grow.

“One thing that was really positive but also really put me out of my comfort zone was that [Welcome Weekend] was the first time I’d really gone somewhere where I knew absolutely nobody,” Bell said.  “ … You’re really thrown out of your comfort zone just trying to meet new people who are going through the same experience as you, but you feel like you’re totally out there by yourself.”

This year, 196 transfer students are enrolling at the University, 42 of whom are entering Notre Dame’s 3-2 or 4-1 engineering programs. Don Bishop, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment at Notre Dame, said 109 of the 174 “traditional” transfers come from Catholic institutions. He also said the average GPA achieved by transfer students at their former institution is a 3.88.

Director of transfer enrollment Erin Camilleri said that while transfer students certainly have an impressive academic record, the Office of Admissions takes a holistic approach when considering transfer applicants.

“We’re really looking for the students who — coming to Notre Dame — continue to have an excellent fit for Notre Dame admissions. They demonstrate that both in their high school profile as well as their college record,” Camilleri said. “ … We’re really looking for the students who will be academically successful, but we’re also looking for students who ‘get’ Notre Dame and are going to make Notre Dame a better place.”

Bishop said this year the University is accepting 74 students from Holy Cross College via the Gateway Program, eight more than last year. Many Gateway students chose the program despite having been accepted to several top universities across the nation, Bishop said.

“The Gateway students as a group … the majority would have gone to a top 30 university,” Bishop said. “They got in to other top 30 universities, and then picked the Notre Dame Gateway Program over that university. Their academic profile as a group when they came out of high school … would rank as a top 25 to top 30 college freshmen profile. So, those students are very good.”

The average GPA of a transfer student’s first year at Notre Dame is about the same as a student who entered the University as a freshman, Bishop said.

“At the end of their first year at Notre Dame, [transfers have] a very similar class performance program as the other students that came in as freshmen who are now in their age group,” he said. “So, they perform at an equal level … they don’t take the opportunity for granted.”

But while transfer students perform academically at the same level as students who arrived at Notre Dame as freshmen, the transition to a new campus can be difficult. Bell, who transferred to the University following his freshman year, said arriving on campus led to mixed emotions.

“It’s exciting because you know if you transferred to Notre Dame, you feel like that’s where you’re meant to be. You feel like you’re going home,” Bell said. “But it’s a little bit nerve-wracking because you’re starting over, and unlike it being the normal experience to start fresh as a first year, you’re doing it as a sophomore in college. There’s a lot of things that are new. It’s a weird transition in that way, because you’ve already done it before, and now you have to do it another time.”

Mazurek said transfers’ delayed start to their Notre Dame career is tough on many.

“Not everyone understands how difficult it is to be a transfer student,” Mazurek said. “You’re coming into a new school. It’s kind of like you’re starting your freshman year all over again, but you’re also a year behind with your other peers, a year behind with your extracurriculars, a year behind with making friends.”

To manage the whirlwind of Welcome Weekend, Bell said he recommends students live in the moment and enjoy their first full moments as members of the Notre Dame community.

“Put a [stop] on the stresses of moving in and getting yourself situated and really embrace the traditions and all the fun that Welcome Weekend has to offer,” he said. “It’s designed for you to meet people in your situation and for you to have fun; it’s a Notre Dame experience just as much as any football game you go to or any time you sing the Alma Mater.”

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About Thomas Murphy

Thomas is a sophomore in the Program of Liberal Studies, where he double minors in Business & Economics and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He is ideologically in favor of the Oxford Comma, and encourages readers to contact their local representatives regarding the codification of its usage.

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