#UWTransfers: This One’s for You

We at UW-Madison’s Transfer Transition Program know that not all #FutureBadgers are just starting their college journey. That’s why we also strive to nurture the unique goals and needs that #UWTransfers have in coming to UW-Madison. As you’re beginning to connect with your new home, we provide a variety of resources specifically for transfer students. Check them out and ensure that you’re making the most of your time, #UWTransfers!

We understand that adjusting to your new surroundings can be difficult, which is why we like to refer to the “W” curve (Gullahorn and Gullahorn, 1963). This model of adjustment highlights the five stages of getting acclimated at your new university.


  1. “Honeymoon”: Students are feeling excited, optimistic, and confident. This excitement begins when students receive their offer of admissions and continues to build throughout Student Orientation. The new campus environment is welcoming, intriguing, and exciting. Excitement and Badger pride are two of the most commonly reported feelings at SOAR.
  2. “Culture Shock”: Culture shock normally sets in during the first round of midterms, when students feel lost, confused, and overwhelmed. The newness and excitement have worn off and some people withdraw as the reality and enormity of transitioning set in. Students start noticing differences between their old school and their new school, and it can be overwhelming and exhausting. Though this stage can be uncomfortable, it’s also temporary and important for growth.
  3. “Initial Adjustment”: Students feel more established, self-aware and have found a sense of balance. Transfer students may have experienced culture shock during the initial transition to college and have retained the tools to adapt. Students feel more connected to their new community but have not yet addressed deeper issues of acceptance.
  4. “Mental Isolation”: Students are feeling stuck between two worlds. There is a second round of culture shock as differences between “old” and “new” remain unreconciled. It’s easy to think that everyone else is doing much better, even though that may not be the case. There is a pressure for students to make big decisions (choosing a major, figuring out living arrangements for next year) before feeling fully acclimated to their new campus. This period can also be described as a reevaluation of goals and expectations.
  5. “Acceptance & Integration”: Finally, students feel well-adjusted and more at home. Over time, students have connected with their new campus and value their new environment. They begin to take on more leadership roles and build meaningful relationships with friends, faculty, and staff. Transfer students develop a more realistic impression of their new environment and how their old world and new world will coexist. They ultimately feel good about their decision to transfer to their new home: UW Madison.

Because transfer students often experience such a whirlwind of emotions, our staff recommends the following tips for navigating “transfer shock” and succeeding at UW-Madison.


  1. Get involved: First and most importantly, students must get connected. If you don’t match with the first group you meet, try something else. Finding a smaller community within UW-Madison can help create a sense of belonging and help make a big campus feel smaller. Do research. Play on an intra-mural team. Apply to be a Transfer Ambassador through the Transfer Transition Program! (Hint. Hint)
  2. Celebrate: Rough times are normal, but don’t forget to enjoy the ups in-between. Enjoy a movie at the Union. Treat yourself to Babcock ice cream. Celebrate your successes. Appreciate yourself when your hard work pays off, and remember that it’s okay if you’re having a difficult time.
  3. Be a self-advocate: Put yourself out there: build a strong network of advisors, faculty members, and other students who can give you the support you need. This campus has a lot of resources, and it’s up to you to make use of them Take advantage of the opportunities you have, reach out to other students, and use campus resources.
  4. Be patient with yourself: Give yourself time. As a hardworking student coming to UW-Madison, it can be difficult if results don’t initially match effort…but trust that you got here for a reason. Once you make adjustments, seek help, create new habits, and form new bonds, you’ll find your way.
  5. Be aware: Know that transfer shock during this period of adjustment is normal. You are not alone in this transition. Seek connections with those in similar situations, or contact a Transfer Ambassador if you’re struggling with any part of your transition, because they can empathize with what you’re going through.
  6. Focus on wellness & balance: The first semester at any new campus can be a stressful one. With many demands on students’ time and energy, it is important to find balance. UW-Madison is equipped with numerous resources to help students focus on a healthy lifestyle and manage stress. Working out, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep (plus, visiting a UHS counselor when you need to) can help incoming transfer students balance some of the difficulties faced throughout their transition.
  7. Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are an incredible amount of resources on campus to help you with your transition. Asking for help can be difficult, but talking with a friend or an advisor about your semester can prove to have a positive impact. No one gets through UW-Madison alone.

Another vital component of transition into life as a Badger is connecting with your Transfer Ambassador. Transfer Ambassadors are experienced transfer students who assist new transfer students by facilitating involvement opportunities, promoting a sense of belonging to UW-Madison and the greater Madison community, and providing resources for personal and academic success. Transfer Ambassadors are an easy way to start to make connections on campus, so be sure to network with them.

We recognize that each student’s experience getting acclimated to campus will be different. For more details on the resources available for #UWTransfers, visit transfer.wisc.edu or email transfer@studentlife.wisc.edu.

Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and visit our Flickr for photos of past transfer experiences!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s