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By Irene Marie Cruz

Being the new kid on the block is never easy. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the 3rd grade or in your third year of college. Change can be one of the hardest things to deal with. Lauren Pyle, a transfer student from Irvine Valley College, Coastline College and Golden West College has experienced an educational path unique to most of us: being home-schooled from kindergarten through high school, going to community college and then transferring to UC Irvine. The thing is, she doesn’t see her challenges as something to keep her down. She sees them as things to help her learn and grow.

Pyle was admitted to UC Irvine in fall 2011, and she is currently studying literary journalism. Of course, growing up as a home-schooled child has its differences.

“I was really sheltered. [College] is out in the world and I’m encountering a bunch of new people. But being sheltered and being taught by my parents actually prepared me to be able to get out into the ‘real world’ and be able to stand on my own two feet – knowing who I am and what I believe,” she said.

Although many people stereotype home-schooled kids as  “lonely, introverted individuals,” Lauren never seemed to have an issue with her social life. She never had a problem making friends and was always one for a bright conversation.

Adjusting from life in community college to life at a big university held its own difficulties. Coming to a new school and not knowing people can be a scary thought, especially for a campus as big as UC Irvine.

“The first two weeks I had to use a map every time,” she said. In addition, there are fewer transfer students than admitted first-years. “I feel like a minority, but I also feel like the school does a lot to help transfers adjust,” Pyle said.

In fact, there are a few programs at UC Irvine that support the transfer community. UCI offers Transfer Success, which is meant to parallel the freshman orientation held throughout the summer. Its purpose is to expose transfer students to the culture, resources and services on campus. Transfer Success embraces the transfer community and strives to make the shift to UCI as easy and enjoyable as possible. Other designated programs are the Transfer Student Seminar, which introduces intellectual discussions with peers and professors, and the Transfer Services Counseling Program, which offers counseling and help with campus resources.

Pyle first attended community college in order to decide what major to pursue and complete general education requirements in the process. Expectations from professors differ between UCI and community college, however.

“Overall, teachers were generally easier at IVC in that they assigned less and writing standards were definitely lower. My guess is that an ‘A’ paper at the community college level would be a ‘B’ at UCI,” she said.

Even the pace of academics differ greatly. Switching from a semester system to a quarter system definitely had its drawbacks.

“On the semester system, I felt like I could take breathers,” she said. “Once the quarter started I had to adjust. The pressure forced me to do what I had to do”.

A change in class format was also difficult for the former home-schooled student.

“I have a hard time sitting through lectures. It gets hard for me to sit still,” Lauren said.

Despite problems that arose from the transition process, Pyle enjoys being a part of the UC Irvine family.

UC Irvine has a multitude of opportunities that differ from community colleges. Pyle hopes to look into programs such as the Equestrian Club or intramural soccer.

“So far, UCI has been a great experience for me.  The classes are challenging but rewarding the people I have encountered are largely very friendly and helpful and the campus is beautiful. I am looking forward to spending my next two years learning and growing in this fun and supportive learning environment.”

I guess the new kid on the block is more than ready to become an Anteater.

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