I transferred from Johnson County Community College to the University of Missouri, Kansas City last year, and the hardest thing for me was trying to connect and make new friends. I felt as if I was completely starting over after years of work at my community college. What helped me most was Sigma Tau Delta. My chapter is full of amazing, funny, hard-working people, and I’m really glad I decided to join. To help other transfer students I’ve come up with my top five tips for making a smooth transition.
1. See if your community college has a chapter of Sigma Kappa Delta
My community college technically had a chapter of Sigma Kappa Delta, but it had been defunct for several years. Though I was unable to join Sigma Kappa Delta, I was able to work in the writing center where everyone was either an English major or very interested in literature and writing. Finding a place with other people who have the same interests and goals as you makes your community college experience much more enjoyable, especially on a commuter campus, and Sigma Kappa Delta does this very well.
2. Plan your classes
To join Sigma Tau Delta you need two English classes outside of the required freshman writing courses. Many community colleges offer literature, creative writing, or additional writing classes, and any of these would count toward Sigma Tau Delta membership. Lots of fun options exist. If you’re toward the end of your time at your community college see if your school has summer or winter course offerings. Don’t be afraid of the classes seeming silly or not knowing if they’ll direct transfer to your four year school, you have electives for a reason. In my final semester I took an anthropology of the paranormal class, in an attempt to strengthen my fiction, and it is one of the best classes I’ve ever taken.
3. If you have a few schools as options, take a look ahead of time at their chapters and undergraduate culture
When I was selecting my university I had two options, the University of Kansas (KU) and the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC). KU currently has neither a Sigma Tau Delta chapter nor any English major clubs. UMKC on the other hand has both a Sigma Tau Delta chapter and a separate English Graduate Student Association, Graduate Students in Creative Writing, and a Medieval Studies Society. Not being able to join a club for English majors was one of the big reasons I decided not to go to KU. If the school that you’re transferring to similarly doesn’t have a Sigma Tau Delta chapter, and you’re already committed, try to start your own chapter. There are chapters of Sigma Tau Delta that are brand new along with all of the well-established, older ones. My chapter is fifty-seven years old this year, but it had to start somewhere.
4. Once you get to your new school, reach out
When I joined Sigma Tau Delta I was only in my first semester at UMKC. Because I reached out to my local chapter, I was able to join in on club activities before even filling out the form for the Society. At my community college I had also taken two creative writing classes, which allowed me to join Sigma Tau Delta in my first semester. If I hadn’t taken it upon myself to talk to them then I wouldn’t have been invited until the following semester, and I would’ve only gotten three semesters in total with my chapter. Though it’s scary to be the first one to reach out, it’s significantly better than spending four months waiting for an invitation.
5. Get involved
Switching schools is hard. Suddenly classes become more difficult and there isn’t anyone there that you know. My chapter of Sigma Tau Delta made me feel at home when I had no friends at my transfer school, and now I’ve become the President of my chapter in the hopes that I can give back to the people who made my transfer so much more fun, and make other people feel welcome too. It was my second meeting when I volunteered to host a murder mystery party for my chapter, and even though I was the only new person going to the international convention I put together our chapter display. My chapter trusted me to do these big and difficult projects, even though they didn’t know me very well, and it made me feel more welcome just because they had faith in me. Getting involved doesn’t necessarily have to mean seeking an officer role, or even going to every event, let alone running for a Society-wide Student Leadership position like I did, but actively participating in your chapter and volunteering for any service projects will make you feel more connected to your department. I honestly don’t think my four-year experience would be as fun as it has been if it wasn’t for Sigma Tau Delta.