Each year, University of Richmond receives around 250 transfer applications for 50 spots in the fall, and 100 applications for 10 spots in the spring, according to the university admissions website.
"There is a slightly higher admit rate for transfer students than for freshmen," Gil Villanueva, dean of admission, said. "Transfer students add another layer of experience to our campus because they have had experiences that students coming from high school might not have had."
Sophomore Katie Lineberger transferred from Rollins College in the fall. "I didn't realize it would be this hard to transfer," she said. "We were divided into two orientation groups of about 25 students each and we rarely got to spend time with the other group. After orientation week we were on our own."
For fall transfer students, there is a separate orientation, with some activities incorporated into the freshman orientation, said Juliette Landphair, dean of Westhampton College.
Junior Hattie Wilkinson, a transfer orientation adviser this past fall, said instead of going to Vegas Night and other freshmen-catered events, they were given funds from the dean's office to do different activities with the transfer students. This year they went to the movies and last year they went to Sweet Frog, Wilkinson said.
"The deans hope that transfer students can become friends with other transfer students before being thrown into regular life at Richmond," Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson said it was tough for many transfer students to make their own friends after orientation ended. "I think the feeling of seclusion is because everyone has already had a year to make friends before any of the transfer students arrived," she said.
Senior Chris Gifford, another orientation adviser said: "I would say the OAs have most of the responsibility for helping transfers assimilate and find their place at Richmond. At the same time, the students have to be willing to put themselves out there."
Lineberger said transfer students were scattered in different dorms across campus, making it hard to meet returning students. She said she had been assigned a room in Robins Hall, at the opposite end of campus from the majority of the sophomore women.
Peter LeViness, the director of CAPS, said, "I think the social adjustment is challenging for many transfer students because students often form friendship groups based on people they meet and live with during their first-year residence hall experience." Counseling and Psychological
Services is one of a number of resources that interact with transfer students during orientation, he said.
LeViness said a fair share of transfer students sought help in his office. "To help them, we explore their interests and encourage them to connect with groups, clubs, organizations that share those interests," he said. "If you have a nontraditional interest pattern, it can be harder to transfer to a small school unless there is a 'critical mass' of students already there who share those interests."
Sophomore Lyndsay Patterson transferred this fall from Barnard College, where she was already a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. "The girls in Theta really made an effort to reach out and make me feel included," she said. "They were a huge support system in my transition."
Patterson said if she had entered Richmond without already being in Theta, she would have had a hard time adjusting. "The transition can be hard because the majority of us were secluded in Robins Hall together on the far side of campus," she said. "Also, if you don't know anyone, the Richmond social scene can be intimidating and the people not so open."
"We have the potential to specifically understand what challenges transfers face, and we are considering forming a focus group to figure out what these recurring issues for transfers are," Landphair said.
Contact reporter Mary Rossiter at firstname.lastname@example.org