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Student Voices - 5 Ways Family and Friends can Support Transfer Students

May 5, 2022 Authors: Jennifer Sparks

READ: Toronto Transfer Student shares 5 #TransferTips for friends and family supporting transfer students in Ontario.

As a higher education researcher, I have read a variety of academic articles and scholarly studies describing the many ways that family and friends support student success in higher education. However, not a lot has been published on the contributions of family and friends in relation to transfer students. So, when I interviewed transfer students, I was intrigued to hear that students described their family members and friends as their biggest supporters during the transfer experience.

Whether, supporting a prospective transfer student or a student who is already transferred, there are many ways family and friends can promote transfer student success. In this blog, I have highlighted five ways family and friends can support transfer students.

Emotionally support transfer students.

Transfer students told me that the emotional support they received from their family and friends had a positive influence on their transfer experience. In particular, transfer students described how much they benefited from their family and friends listening to their ideas, options and questions about transfer. For example, a transfer student shared, “Both my parents were really supportive… They were a supportive sounding board. They were really supportive of me trying a new program and going somewhere else”. As a family member or friend, just listening and being there for your transfer student can support their success.

Encourage students to research transfer.

Engaging in a little research and obtaining credit pre-assessments can help students to transfer with ease. After doing some research, a student described that during their transfer experience there were, “No surprises… I knew what I was gonna get before coming. They pre-assess you and tell you how it will go.” Another transfer student explained, “I did feel some uncertainty about course equivalency. I was not sure what courses would transfer or if I would get credit for everything. So, I emailed and called advisors at the institutions I was interested in transferring to, before I applied to them. I also did campus tours, looked at their social media and did other research like any other prospective student would.” Family and friends can help students to set themselves up for transfer success by referring students to online transfer resources, such as, and by encouraging students to reach out to on campus academic advisors before they apply to transfer.

Inspire students’ confidence in transfer.

For some students, transferring to a new program or school can feel like a big risk. According to the transfer students I spoke with, a little trepidation was a natural part of their transfer experience. For instance, a transfer student explained, “It’s normal to feel uneasy about transferring, about what might happen. The whole process can seem like a risk. But if you consider all the factors involved, it can be very rewarding. Worth the risk.” For students who are considering transfer as an option, they may feel more confident in transferring if they have the support of their family and friends. By simply showing confidence in students’ abilities, family and friends can inspire students to have confidence in themselves as transfer students.

Support students throughout the transfer transition.

While transfer students may not be new to postsecondary education, they still require support as they adjust academically and build relationships within their new learning community. For instance, a student explained that after they transferred, “In second year my grades dropped slightly. And there was some course content covered in first year that I needed for second year that I did not do at [my previous institution]. So I had to catch up. It was an adjustment”. Fortunately, family and friends can help students cope with transfer transitions by staying connected and through encouraging students to integrate themselves into campus life by attending orientation, joining clubs, volunteering, making new social connections in their new community and using on campus support services (i.e. academic, mental health and wellness support services, etc.) when needed.

Celebrate students’ many transfer successes.

There are many opportunities to celebrate the achievements of students throughout the transfer experience. What I learned from the discussions I had with students was how courageous, passionate and determined transfer students are. Being a transfer student takes guts! As one student described, in order to transfer you have to “take initiative, be mature, be savvy, and ask questions”. The transfer students I interviewed had can-do attitudes and were strongly committed to their educational goals. So, if you are a family or friend of a transfer student, don’t wait until graduation to applaud their perseverance. Family and friends can support and celebrate their students by recognizing that it is the small steps within the transfer journey that truly makes a student successful.

In summation, these are just five of the myriad of ways family and friends can and do support the success of transfer students in Ontario. If you are a friend or a family member of a prospective transfer student, a newly enrolled transfer student or a student who had transferred and is now nearing graduation, don’t discount the significant contribution you can make to their transfer experience! Transfer students truly value the support they receive from their friends and family members!

Tags: CATs 2021, Student Experience, Transfer Student Voices