UMass Amherst Transfer: A Parent’s Perspective

After much careful consideration, during his freshman year at another college, our son decided that he wanted to transfer.  Although he did very well academically, started every match as a freshman on the men’s volleyball team, and made friends, he sought greater academic and extra-curricular opportunities.  Extremely outgoing, funny, and social, he wanted access to more clubs, activities, and a larger student population. After researching several options, and after a visit to UMass Amherst, he knew it was the school for him.  He was accepted as a transfer student and hasn’t looked back since, throwing himself into his classes and extra-curricular activities with great enthusiasm.

Naturally, we were thrilled for him, but as parents we had many questions and a few concerns. Going from a small college to a large university, we hoped he wouldn’t “get lost” or be treated as a number rather than as an individual. He had flourished academically during his freshman year. We wanted to ensure he would have ready access to professors and other academic resources when necessary, especially while adjusting from small class sizes to potentially much larger ones. As parents of a transfer student we were also concerned that his previously attained academic credits wouldn’t transfer into his UMass Amherst curriculum.  After reviewing his submitted coursework from freshman year, UMass provided clear documentation indicating his credit status. Much to our relief, our transfer student would be able to graduate on time.

As the academic year draws to a close our son is thrilled with his choice, and UMass has far surpassed our expectations in every way.  Commencing with comprehensive orientation sessions for transfer students and family and friends, the transition has been seamless for our entire family. Every new student attends an orientation session where they receive assistance in course registration, meet faculty, and get to know the campus. This is also a great opportunity to meet other transfer students.  As parents, we found the family and friends orientation particularly helpful. This detailed program proactively addresses several important topics in great detail, with plenty of time for questions and to meet other parents of transfer students. Topics include academics, financial matters, health services, living at UMass, student safety, technology, and student emotional health. All of that information coupled with a great lunch in a dining hall (yes, the stellar reputation of the dining services is well deserved!) made for an outstanding day. In addition, each fall, UMass Amherst offers a variety of programs beginning Labor Day weekend for transfers. These sessions, meetings, and activities are designed to create a supportive community for new transfer students. You can learn more at  UMass Amherst New Students Orientation – Transfer Students.

Once accepted, one of our initial questions was, where would our son live? While transfer students can live in other residence halls, many choose to live in Sylvan. McNamara residence hall in the Sylvan area is specifically geared for transfer students, enabling them to begin their UMass Amherst experience together.

Our son has found his place, thriving academically while pursuing numerous opportunities outside of the classroom. He’s interested in so many courses and potential fields of study that he’s likely to change his major…again! In terms of campus resources, he has availed himself of the writing lab and always finds his professors and TAs available when needed to discuss an upcoming paper or exam. This has empowered him to become an even stronger self-advocate, confident that his inquiries will be received with care and respect.  As parents of a transfer student entering a new environment, we have been impressed by the various resources available on campus. A great place to start for parents of transfer students is the Office of Parents Services . This outstanding resource contains campus offices, contacts for emergencies and campus safety, FAQs, a parent checklist, and links to other useful pages, among other information.

Similar to its outreach to families of incoming first-year students, UMass Amherst encourages family members of transfer students to get involved with the university. Involvement could start with a one-off blog post similar to this one on a topic of interest to others. Among other volunteer opportunities, family members of transfers are encouraged to apply to serve on the UMass Amherst Parent Advisory Council.  This is what I did. As the parent of a transfer student I have received a warm welcome to this group of like-minded parents working to serve as a resource and better the UMass Amherst experience for all of us. Information that families of transfer students may find valuable is available   from the UMAPA Advisory Council web page.

Created as a resource for students, families of transfers can also access the Dean of Students Office. Another helpful resource for families of both transfer and current students is the Office for Parents Services Facebook page: UMass Amherst parents page on Facebook.  Family members can ask questions, and valuable information is regularly posted there. In addition, every Tuesday the page offers a useful tip to help with our student’s success. Another useful Facebook page for UMass Amherst parents is UMass Amherst Family to Family, which is moderated by volunteers from the UMass Parents Advisory Council in collaboration with the Office for Parents Services.

Between the resources available and the welcoming culture of UMass Amherst our son has never been happier. Transferring to UMass Amherst was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. As parents, we could not be happier.

Submitted by Chuck Kaufman, parent of a sophomore at UMass Amherst, and a member of the UMass Amherst Parent Advisory Council.