5 Tips for Success from a Graduating Transfer Student

(This post was authored by Julianne Cox)

When I geared up for my first semester of college, I wasn’t worried about which dorm I’d be in or who my roommate would be. I was attending Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. My only concern was the length of time it took me to drive from my parents’ house to campus! As excited as I was to leave high school and pursue a higher education, I personally had to get started a little closer to home. But when the time came to continue learning at another institution, I was drawn to Tennessee Tech. I’ve learned quite a few things along the way of my five-year college journey. I thought I’d share my top tips for success with everybody. Check them out below.

  1. Do Your Research!

Whether you’re transferring schools, changing majors, or just planning out your course schedule for the next few years, it always pays off to do your research! See what classes are offered for your desired course program. When I was planning to transfer to Tech, I triple-checked that all of my Vol State courses would transfer over and apply to my CSC degree here. Fortunately, most public universities in TN have a simple transfer protocol, so all of my credits were able to come with me! The same thing applies if you’re wanting to change your major. A lot of your general education courses should still be applicable to your degree!

  1. Create And Stick To A Schedule!

There are a lot of things to keep up with in college! Not only are you responsible for your academic requirements, you’re also taking care of yourself as an adult for the first time. Then add in clubs, sororities/fraternities, working a job or two, trying to exercise…. There’s a lot to keep track of! There are also many ways to organize your to-do list, but my persona; favorite is Trello. I’m a sucker for lists, and Trello lets you make lists on lists on lists! Ultimately it is a little bit complex, but super easy to get used to and has kept me on track for the past three years in the midst of (usually) four classes, two jobs, and the general chores of living in my own apartment. Definitely consider making a (free) account if you’re too lazy for a written planner like I am!

  1. Try A Little Bit Of Everything!

Quite frankly, there are a ridiculous amount of opportunities in the Computer Science department at Tech. Whether you’re wanting to learn specialized cybersecurity at the Offense and Defense Cyber Interest Groups, pick up some info at the Game Development Club, learn something at the Data Science League, or find fellow female students at the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Club, there is no shortage of things to do! Sometimes, these organizations will also have chances to attend conferences at no cost, like the TriWIC or WiCyS conferences (both of which I’ve had the chance to attend)! With all of my heart I encourage you to try something new in any of the mentioned (or unmentioned) clubs here in our department! Especially if you’re a transfer student and kind of struggling to find your “group” on campus. Not only do you have the chance to make new friends, you’ll also have the chance to learn new skills and add something to your resume. You might even get to do something unexpected, like speak at a big event!

Me, giving a Lightning Talk on club meeting idea at the TriWIC conference in February 2020!
Dr. Kosa and a group of students at the annual WiCyS Conference in 2019 that took place in Pittsburgh!
  1. If You Can, Take On Some Extracurricular Responsibilities!

While participating in clubs is a resume booster in and of itself, holding an officer’s position looks much fancier. It shows that you have the drive to be involved beyond just your college courses, and it shows that you’ve got the work ethic to get things done. I’ve been involved in various officer’s positions over the years, and recruiters have commented on that at each interview I’ve had! So keep your eyes open for any openings or elections in clubs that you’re involved in – it doesn’t have to be the role of President to make a difference, and it’s a great chance for personal improvement!

Here is a picture of me hosting my first meeting as President of the Women in Cybersecurity Student Chapter, after spending two years as the Vice President!
  1. Don’t Be Afraid To Say “NO”!

As fun as it is to learn new things and have new experiences, above all else your mental health in college is the MOST important. As a people-pleaser it is often super hard for me to say “no” when someone asks me to do something. But sometimes, you really do not have the time to take on any other responsibilities. Other times, you may just want to keep some time open for rest and relaxation – both of these are valid reasons to say no to a request from a student, organization, or a professor! Always make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to do your classes, homework things you enjoy, and take care of yourself, amidst all of the things you may be thinking about taking on in any semester.

I hope these tips will help you on your journey through college! Some of them I wish I learned a little bit earlier on my own journey, so I’m glad I can impart them now.

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