Transfer Student Assembly launches initiative

The initiative includes regular one-on-one meetings with TSA executive board members and a mentorship program that pairs first-year transfer students with upperclassman transfers who can share tips and resources. (Photo courtesy of Drew Driscoll)

The “First Year Experience” — a new Transfer Student Assembly initiative — aims to help first-year transfer students navigate the USC community by organizing various activities such as bonfire events, mentor advising, retreats and bi-weekly dinners. 

Unlike the previous Emerging Leaders Program — a peer mentorship project for all transfer students that ended in Spring 2022 — the first-year initiative specifically focuses on building a community for new transfer students through networking activities and mentoring opportunities. 

“We’re trying to help guide [first-year transfer students] through a lot of experiences that they most likely have not had at their previous university,” said Sophia Tabares, a senior majoring in neuroscience and co-director of TSA. 

The first part of the initiative consists of a group competition. Each group is made up of six members who must participate in a wide range of activities — including frisbee tournaments and hikes — designed to create a small community within themselves. The group’s involvement in each activity will dictate their ranking, which is designed to encourage participation.

Weekly meetings will also give members the opportunity to get to know each other. Every week, TSA will choose a topic to lead the conversation in hopes of helping students connect. New member groups are also encouraged to spend this time doing group-bonding activities. 

“It’s gonna be a casual conversation with questions that we have. Some questions are like, ‘what’s your hottest take?’” said Drew Driscoll, a senior majoring in economics and new membership director for TSA. 

Another part of the initiative is a mentorship program, which includes regular one-on-one meetings with TSA executive board members and pairings between first-year and upperclassmen transfer students. The mentors can share tips and introduce resources, such as the transfer forgiveness and transfer credits policies, to the first-year transfer students. 

Driscoll, a transfer student from George Washington University, said that transfer students can have a hard time being accepted into clubs and organizations on campus. Thus, the program will collaborate with other student organizations to serve as a pipeline for its members to explore their interests in the USC community. 

“It’s an incentive for clubs to accept [traditional freshmen] because they’ll have more time and they’ll get more involved in the club,” Driscoll said. “This has a detrimental effect on the transfer community … they don’t get into clubs and they feel rejected from the USC community.” 

The application to join the initiative, which includes several short-answer questions, is now open to both first-year undergraduate and graduate transfer students and will close Feb. 5. 

TSA expects to accept around 30 students for the program. The organization’s goal is to maintain a small group to ensure every member gets the resources they need. 

“Any transfer student that feels like they would benefit from this program, we would encourage them to apply,” Tabares said. “We would love to meet as many students as possible.”