Making the Transfer to Irvine

With the beginning of the new school year, new students celebrate their arrival and begin to familiarize themselves with the UC Irvine campus. Out of about 8,000 of these new students, 1,800 are transfers. While transfers have already been college students and aren’t foreigners to all-night studying binges for midterms and finals, being on a new campus can be exhilarating.

Over 90 percent of transfer students at UCI come from California Community Colleges, but despite similar backgrounds, their journeys to UCI vary in several ways.

Miguel Gutierrez of Palm Desert just transferred from College of the Desert, or as he likes to call it, “college of the desperate.” Gutierrez originally attended UC Santa Barbara fall quarter of his freshman year in 2010, but unfortunately had to drop out because his financial aid packet was revoked.

“I just have to go to school, though. It’s what I need to do. I just have to,” he said.

His troubles continued when he moved on to College of the Desert, where he started out spring semester without being registered in any classes. The college had put a lock on his registration because they hadn’t inputted his transcripts into the system, which he had diligently sent in twice.

“I wasn’t able to sign up for classes because they just forgot to do something,” he said.

Gutierrez had to crash over fifteen courses during the first week of school, and managed to get into four classes that would eventually meet his General Education requirements at Irvine.

“I wasn’t going to let something like that stop me from transferring,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez celebrated his acceptance to UCI when he checked his email on his cell phone in the middle of a flash mob in which he was participating. For those unfamiliar with a flash mob, it’s when a group of people burst into a synchronized dance in a random yet populated locale.

Samantha Willis of Antioch transferred from Los Medanos College in order to pursue a degree in Law and Society with a minor in Anthropology. Irvine had been her first choice since learning of the newly founded law school.

Willis lives in a themed house in Arroyo Vista specially designed for transfer students, where they often have get-togethers so they can socialize and bond with each other. She comes from a military family, havnig used to live on an Air Force base.

“Irvine reminds me of home because there are always planes flying overhead and the layout of Irvine is pretty similar to an [Air Force] base,” she said.

Willis has joined the women’s rowing team and has taken up a part-time job as an in-home care provider.

Samantha’s fiancé of one year still lives in Antioch, and they are continuing their five-and-a-half-year relationship long distance for the time being. She said that it is difficult going to different schools and being in different cities, but they do what they need to do for their academics.

Heather MacEwan, a newly admitted transfer student from College of the Desert in Palm Desert, said that she doesn’t “envy freshmen at all,” and that she has “done it before.”

MacEwan attended the community college after taking a few years off from school. She originally went to University of Redlands straight out of high school, but quickly realized that she was not prepared to make the decisions that are often demanded from a freshman. While attending College of the Desert, she worked during the day, took night classes and also tutored students in statistics on campus. Her demanding life in Palm Desert contrasts her life here in Irvine, where she said that she can focus on her studies and education and get what she wants and needs out of life. She works at a temp agency on the weekends and studies during the week.

“They say that once you drop out of college that you can never go back. That’s just not true. I always knew I would go back. I always pictured myself at a big university like this. There’s so much you can learn from life without going to school, we are always continually educating ourselves. I met a lot of diverse people that I don’t think I would have met if I had been in university for those years. I really don’t regret it. ”

While all transfer students have had different experiences that lead them to Irvine, most have one thing in common; they are happy to be here and are using their past college experiences to embellish their time here. Additionally, they bring outside perspectives to the classroom, which helps  enrich the campus environment. These new students have worked  hard to get to this point, and there’s no denying that they will continue to do so. So, congratulations to them all.