Transfers get acquainted with OU

The first day of college is one that most students only have to endure once. Last year, however, over 1,500 students transferred to Oakland University, embarking on a second “first day.”


Once the application is completed and the acceptance letter is received, the real adjusting begins.


Attending another orientation, tackling another registration system and exploring a new campus are all things a transfer student must do for the second, if not the third or fourth time.


The first step in the process of becoming a full-fledged Grizzly is transfer orientation.


Transfer student orientation runs much like a condensed version of the traditional freshman orientation.  Students arrive early in the morning and spend four hours covering the “must-knows” of OU, like advising, financial aid, utilizing SAIL and webmail, and transferring credits.


Catherine Simons, who transferred from Macomb Community College, found that the OU orientation provided exactly the type of information necessary for students who had already participated in some other freshman orientation program.


“At Oakland, the group was considerably larger and the information was basically the same, but because we were transfer students they could skip over things meant for freshmen,” Simons said.


Elizabeth Lordon, who previously attended Kalamazoo College, called her transfer to Oakland a “no-brainer” due to the university’s close proximity to her home.


Lordon recalled her freshman orientation as a weeklong program that not only introduced students to academic facets of the college but also strongly focused on “getting to know peers and being out and about on campus.”


“At Kalamazoo, I had a time during orientation where they asked me to sit one-on-one with my advisor and talk about specific class options, whereas at Oakland orientation there are too many students to do anything like that. Both sides have their own pros and cons,” Lordon said.


Orientation is a normal expectation for transfer students. A professor strike is not.


Word came Sept. 3 that due to unresolved contract negotiations, classes were canceled until further notice. Classes resumed on Sept. 10. Transfer students were surprised by the week-long delay.


“I am just glad it was decided to cancel classes instead of having to choose whether or not to cross the picket lines,” said Simons, who stated that the strike did not sway her decision about attending OU. “Things like this happen,” she said.


Lordon agreed, saying that although the strike was frustrating — because like most students, she had prepared for class the previous night­ — she believed that the professors were doing what they felt was necessary.


After an additional week of anticipation, Simons and Lordon were able to experience their first day of classes as Grizzlies.


Simons, who is currently undecided but leaning toward a major in political science, found the transition from Macomb to Oakland to be far less daunting than expected.


“Oakland seems like a bigger version of Macomb: bigger campus, bigger classrooms, more people, bigger parking lots — although it’s still hard to find a parking spot,” Simons said.


Lordon is also enjoying her first weeks at Oakland despite adjusting to living off campus and competing with thousands for that elusive parking spot near her classes.


“Leaving a half hour early for everything to find a parking spot is definitely going to take some getting used to,” she said.


In addition to chaotic parking, traffic and an earlier alarm setting, Lordon is also attempting to get accustomed to a student body of over 18,000, compared to her previous school’s population of just 1,340 students.


Acknowledging the fact that her class sizes are much larger than at Kalamazoo, Lordon believes that there are definite benefits to attending Oakland.


“I can sort of be whomever I want and pursue new options I never had available at a small liberal arts school,” she said.