At an academic crossroads: What’s it like being a transfer student?

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

Walking around campus, there are the faces of strangers and friends. 

Around campus, the faces of strangers and friends pass each other in day-to-day routines. 

For new students, the hurdle is to change the faces of strangers, to the faces of friends. Transfer students undertake the same hurdle several weeks, months, or semesters behind their peers. They have a unique experience: they must start their college experience over again in a new place, with new people.

It can be an intimidating process. 

In the fall 2022 semester, 1,634 undergraduate transfer students sought enrollment at Boise State University. Of these students, 52.7% transferred from in-state schools such as the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Lewis and Clark State College, College of Western Idaho, College of Southern Idaho and North Idaho College, according to the Boise State Census Day Profile of New Transfer Students Fall 2022

Alongside state residents, 42.2% are nonresident transfers from fall 2022. Others have joined fellow nonresident transfers this spring semester in their college careers. 

Lauren Gustafson, a freshman transfer from Colorado, is majoring in visual arts with an emphasis in ceramics. During an interview with The Arbiter, she mentioned that she chose Boise State for multiple reasons, including that Boise State felt similar to her hometown and she wanted a community of Christian clubs and influence she was aware of on campus.

Aja Wilson, a freshman transfer student majoring in nursing, told The Arbiter that she chose Boise State because it gave her an opportunity to go somewhere else, rather than stay in her home state of California. 

Switching schools across states is a challenge, but international transfer students understand on another level the challenge of moving. 

Thirty-eight international students transferred to Boise State last fall, as recorded by the Boise State University Census Day Profile of New Transfer Students Fall 2022. These students experienced the most significant change: attending university in a different country. 

[Students walk through the Quad on Boise State’s campus.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

Victoria Gonzalez, an international transfer student from Monterrey, Mexico, spoke with The Arbiter about her journey of choosing Boise State for her education. 

Gonzalez’s immediate family lives in Mexico and Texas. 

Watching her brother’s high school experience in Texas inspired her to “live that experience too.” Gonzalez transferred from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Nuevo León, a well-known and established national university in Mexico.

“I looked into Boise State, and they looked like they had a really great academic program, it seemed more to my interests,” Gonzalez said. “I went for the opportunity — and here I am!”

Gonzalez is passionate about her growing community of other international students and creating friendships. 

“I’ve definitely loved to meet new people and also other international students. It’s super nice, I’m super curious about other cultures,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve had the chance to meet people from Denmark, South Korea, France and the Netherlands.” 

Gonzalez is a marketing major here at Boise State, carrying on her family’s banner. Her uncle, a marketer, is her source of inspiration.

“I got motivation from my family.”

Tina Ngeh is an international student studying integrated media and strategic communication with a minor in journalism, landing somewhere between a junior or senior in credits. She transferred last semester from the University of Buea in Cameroon, West Africa. 

Ngeh’s story of how she ended up at Boise State is one that began in 2017, while she was in high school.

“Discovering Boise State goes back to five years ago when I was an exchange student for Middleton High School in Middleton,” Ngeh said. “So, we would always come out when there were football games, Boise State events. When I came for games, for basketball, football, I liked the ambiance.”

Ngeh’s time at Boise State all those years ago made an impression on her.

“I liked Boise State,” Ngeh said. “It was love at first sight.”

After she moved back to Africa, she was determined to find a way to come to the United States for her education — particularly Boise State. 

 “I was like: ‘I will apply for Boise State. If they don’t take me, I’m not going anywhere else,’” Ngeh said.

Because of Cameroon’s ongoing civil war, the Anglophone Crisis, the application process took her two to three years.

Just last year, after help from a friend in the United States and endless months of effort, Ngeh was accepted to Boise State. 

ASBSU Transfer Student Representative Gabe Rodriguez, once a transfer student himself, spoke about his advice for all transfer students. 

“I transferred from ISU in Pocatello, and it was very intimidating to come here with a completely different set of people,” Rodriguez said. “A big part of getting involved in the community is putting yourself out there, finding something you are interested in, and just engaging with other people in those organizations that share common interests.”

Rodriquez’s job is to oversee that transfer students feel welcome and comfortable on campus.

“Ultimately,” he declared, “They are part of a bigger collective: Boise State students.”

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