By Donna Sharpe, Editor, Transfer eNewsletter
It seems as though another school year has just gotten underway and already we are in the throes of winter quarter registration as well as anticipating final exams and the holidays! As we get ready to welcome a new group of transfer students for winter quarter, and look ahead to the transfer application cycle for next fall, it is time for a few words to new and prospective Huskies about what they can expect as they transition from community college to the University of Washington.
Transfer students come in to the University well-prepared for what lies ahead. They understand the importance of time management, planning, communicating with professors, and effective study strategies. Students who are transferring from Washington community colleges are already accustomed to the pace of the quarter system. However, even with such excellent preparation, the UW does have a few surprising differences in store for new students.
If you ask a group of incoming transfer students what they expect to be different, you will get a chorus of, "big class size". Yes, in some cases, you will find yourself in classes that are much larger than those you experienced at community college but, maybe not. For students who are prepared to enter majors and who have the foundation classes finished, they might find that their largest class size will be closer to 50 than 500 and many classes are much smaller. For students who do find themselves in one of the mega-classes, it is important to remember that those classes break out into quiz sections or labs that are a more familiar 25 to 30 students and attendance is critical at all sessions, lectures, quizzes and labs!
One factor that can differ significantly from your previous school is the grading system. In community college, your grade for a course may be based on several assignments, weekly quizzes, class participation, midterms and a final. At the UW, your entire grade might rest on one or two midterms and a final. Each instructor determines what grading standard to use and many will grade on a curve rather than a straight percentage system.
Along with grading system differences, many students discover that a significant portion of their learning takes place outside of the classroom. Study strategies and time management techniques that worked well in community college, might not be as effective at the university. Students who managed to hold down a full time or even a part time job while attending community college often find that they can no longer do so and keep up with school work. Working students also find less flexibility with class hours at the University as there are fewer evening sections of courses offered. Oh, and we do schedule final exams on Saturdays!
The transition to the UW takes some adjusting, even for experienced college students. Fortunately, the university provides a number of resources to assist students including various college and department learning and writing centers, the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment, the Odegaard Writing and Research Center and the Language Learning Center. Advisers are your greatest source of information about the services that you can tap into here. For students with declared majors, your departmental advisers are your primary resource. Students who are not yet admitted to a major can get information from the general advisers in UAA Advising and OMA&D advising in 141 Mary Gates Hall.
We expect students to use the services that are provided. We don't expect you to know everything when you get here because you are here to learn. With a bit of tweaking, the learning skills that you have developed at the community college, along with a commitment to take advantage of the services and resources available at the UW, will make your transition to the university a smooth process!