Getting Involved as a Transfer Student

Dear Transfers,

Congratulations, you have come so far and are now admitted to UCLA! Take a second to recognize all of the hard work you have put into these last two years.

Transitioning to a four-year university is an experience like no other and is by far one of the most exciting journeys you will embark on. My name is Noah Camacho and I am currently a first-year transfer majoring in Psychology. A little bit about me is I am from Orange County, specifically from a town called Yorba Linda. After high school graduation, in the midst of COVID-19, I had decided my best option in continuing my higher education was to enroll at a community college. Hence, I spent two years at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, California where I graduated with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts & Psychology. Part of the decision in choosing community college was due to the unpredictable times during 2020 and the other part was because my dad had made the decision for me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t angry about staying home and not going to a four-year university like the rest of my friends. Yet, I soon would realize how life changing this school was going to be for me. In so many ways, I wouldn’t change my journey in the slightest and am beyond blessed to have gone about my education in such a unique way.

In writing this blog, I want to emphasize my transition as a transfer student and how I went about my first days at UCLA. In many ways, my journey did not necessarily start off how I had imagined it. Coming from a community college, I was scared to start at UCLA, but I had a feeling it was going to be an opportunity of a lifetime. However, I soon came to realize that this journey was going to be harder than I had thought. The thing is, my fears of not fitting in and being an outcast had gotten the best of me when coming to UCLA. These fears had nothing to do with the school I was attending nor the classes I was enrolled in, but rather the fact I was leaving my home. For most people, the idea of college can be an anxious and frightening moment in a person’s life. I thought to myself, “It’ll go away, I will be fine…” So I started school and let me tell you…this feeling did not in fact go away. I remember a conversation I had with my mom over the phone saying, “Mom, I really don’t like it here. Could I please come home, at least for a day?” Her response was, “No…” We continued to talk and the one thing I remember her saying during our conversation was, “You just need to get involved Noah…” After the phone call, I thought to myself, “What does my mom know?” Its easier said than done to get involved and join a bunch of clubs on a campus I know nothing about. Yet, I made a promise to my mom and as some of you may know, a mothers wish is a mothers command. So I did just that and soon came to the realization that my mom was indeed right. From this point on, my life at UCLA took a complete shift and changed for the better.

Now you might be wondering, what are the first steps to getting involved and how might you find these organizations/clubs/programs on campus? As a transfer, I had these exact questions and was intimidated to join these clubs as a first-year transfer. However, the first thing I realized about campus involvement at UCLA is that all clubs want you to get involved, regardless of your grade level or academic background. In looking for the unique campus involvement I was interested in, one opportunity that helped me was the Enormous Activities Fair. This tends to happen at the beginning of fall quarter and this is when all 1,300+ clubs on campus showcase what their clubs have to offer throughout Royce Quad and Dickson Plaza. Here you can sign up for informational meetings, introduce yourself to club members, or take flyers from programs you are interested in. At this event, I was able to come across UCLA Club Track and Field and decided to join since I had done track & field in both high school and community college.

Soon after the Enormous Activities Fair, I decided to continue looking around campus in search for other clubs. My next outlet was social media and scrolling on different platforms allowed me to see all types of clubs that were accepting applications. In doing this, I had come across an organization known as “The Den” which I ended up applying for on the same day. A week later I joined the club and was given so many opportunities in getting involved within the athletics department on campus and understanding how the games at UCLA work.

The last great hotspot transfers should know about is Bruin Walk. What some call “the heart of UCLA”, this is where all students on campus advertise their club events and encourage other students to join their clubs, this activity is often referred to as, “flyering.” Walking on Bruin Walk, I was actually “flyered” by a campus tour guide who had told me about the recent application in becoming a tour guide for Undergraduate Admission. Fast forward three months later and I found out that I was hired and given the position in becoming a tour guide. This position has helped me tremendously in my public speaking skills and has allowed me to see all the great things UCLA has to offer as a four-year university. There have also been moments where I have specifically learned about the efforts UCLA makes for our transfer community. In all, these clubs mean so much more to me than opportunities for me to be involved on campus. Instead, they have offered professional experiences in my social skills, the way I go about interviews, and have improved my public speaking abilities. Thus, my advice to you is to find those clubs that will help you grow as a person and give you the confidence to step outside your comfort zone.

One thing to take away from this blog is that college is the time where you have the freedom to try all sorts of new things and get involved. Whether it’s rock-climbing, joining the speech and debate team, or trying out for the club soccer team. Some would argue that involvement is the key to college success and I would completely agree. Its given me the ability to discover the things I find to be interesting while simultaneously meeting people who share similar passions as myself. Hence, college is what you make of it and for that, involvement is the way to make the most of your two years at UCLA. I hope this blog was insightful and gives you the confidence to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself every time you step foot on this campus. I wish you transfers the best in your individual journeys and hope you are able to find your community on campus. Go Bruins!

Photo of Noah in front of Royce Hall wearing a blue UCLA polo.

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