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Transfer Student Spotlight

Yashavene Sin Li

What are your goals for the future?  Upon the completion of my undergraduate degree, I have numerous dreams and plans for the future. My career aspirations revolve around working as a toxicologist, with the goal of contributing my expertise to either a pharmaceutical company or a forensics department. 

Beyond my professional and academic pursuits, one of my overarching future goals involves extensive travel and exploration around the world. Having embarked on a transformative educational journey that took me from Malaysia to Austin and subsequently to Edinburgh, I can attest to the profound personal growth and learning experiences that such global transitions offer. The opportunity to move across continents has allowed me to expand my horizons, learn valuable lessons, and create enduring memories. I consider myself fortunate to have gained these experiences, which are the kind that many people aspire to.

How did you decide where you wanted to transfer? Choosing where to transfer was a challenging decision that required careful consideration of various factors. Unlike many students who enter college with a specific dream school in mind, I had the aspiration to attend a top-tier institution without a clear preference. Initially, I applied to the University of Texas Austin and Texas A&M University, envisioning them as my dream schools. Unfortunately, I faced rejection from both, leading me to start my academic journey at ACC.

My dad played a pivotal role in shaping my academic path, encouraging me to broaden my horizons. Following his advice to embrace numerous opportunities, I applied to 16 schools across three countries. Navigating through classes, assignments, work, and applications was undoubtedly challenging, but I had a robust support system that helped me persevere. I started the applications early and completed them by January, easing the anxiety. The acceptance notifications began with safety schools, followed by rejections and more acceptances.

As the Spring ’23 semester concluded, I faced the task of choosing between the University of Toronto and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the uncertainty of my application status at the University of Edinburgh. Both options were appealing, and I felt torn. Months of confusion persisted until I received admission to the University of Edinburgh.

With multiple choices, I meticulously weighed the pros and cons of each. Studying abroad was a privilege but also a financial consideration. After consulting with my family, we narrowed down the options to the top schools and ultimately chose between the University of Toronto and the University of Edinburgh. Financial factors played a significant role, and the University of Edinburgh emerged as the more affordable option, with the added benefit of proximity to relatives, reducing the potential loneliness I might have felt in Toronto.

Is life at your new institution any different from ACC? What adjustments – if any – did you have to make? Life at the University of Edinburgh presents a stark contrast to my experience at ACC. ACC fostered a sense of close-knit community, with readily accessible professors and a welcoming atmosphere that encouraged bonds between faculty and students. When I joined Alpha Gamma Pi, a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa in my second semester at ACC, I made tons of friends and memories that I still hold close to my heart. Moreover, as an ex-President of the ACC Chemistry Society, I built more friendships and brought myself out of my comfort zone. Arriving at a huge institution with hundreds of thousands of students, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to bond with faculty/professors. It also felt more lonely, as most students here have their group of friends made during their first year. Thus, as a transfer student, it was rather difficult to fit in and find friend groups that haven’t already bloomed. I did feel lonely at first but as I navigated through classes, labs and tutorials, I began forming friendships. Additionally, transitioning to the University of Edinburgh from ACC proved challenging due to significant differences in the educational systems between the UK and the US.

The disparities, ranging from grading systems to the overall university structure, initially caught me off guard. In the initial phase, it felt like being plunged into a deep well, necessitating an exploration to find my way. A notable difference was in the approach to chemistry labs; at ACC, students were guided through experiments briefly, whereas at the University of Edinburgh, I had to navigate the process independently with almost no help unless asked. While this initially felt unfamiliar, I embraced it as a valuable learning opportunity, akin to a playground for self-discovery.

Another challenge was adapting to diverse accents, including Scottish, Glaswegian, and British, among my professors. Understanding Glaswegian accents proved particularly challenging, although American accents were more familiar due to my exposure to American shows/movies. Overcoming language barriers became an integral part of my adjustment process.

Furthermore, the grading system at the University of Edinburgh differed significantly. Initially disheartened by assignment grades in the 70s, I later learned that a 70 is considered an A. This realization prompted a crucial adjustment in my perception of grades, aligning it with the distinct grading standards at the University of Edinburgh. Overall, my journey at the University of Edinburgh has been marked by these adjustments, offering unique challenges and learning experiences.

What are some of the questions you had while going through the process? Going through the transfer process, several questions weighed on my mind. One primary concern was the transferability of the courses I completed at ACC. Fortunately, proactive planning played a crucial role in alleviating this worry. Early on at ACC, I consulted my academic advisor, informing them of my intent to transfer out of state and even internationally. This discussion guided me in selecting courses that would align with potential transfer requirements.

The intricacies of essay writing for college applications also posed a significant question. While I recognized the importance of this aspect, I found myself overwhelmed and uncertain about where to begin. Seeking guidance, I turned to my transfer specialist, Hiram, from the ACC Highland Transfer Services. Hiram proved instrumental in clarifying what colleges typically looked for in essays, offering insights on what to include and what to avoid. His support extended to reviewing my essay, and with his assistance, I overcame the initial challenges, ultimately submitting a compelling application. Hiram’s dedication played a pivotal role, and I credit his guidance for my successful applications.

Another question emerged when my dad suggested applying to universities in the UK. Initially skeptical about the possibility of transferring from the US, I heeded his advice to research and directly inquire with these institutions about their policies on accepting transfer students. This experience taught me a valuable lesson: always ask. Despite initial online research yielding little information, reaching out directly to the institutions via email proved to be a fruitful approach. Many institutions provided helpful insights that went beyond what was available online.

For future transfer students eyeing international transfers, my advice echoes my experience: don’t hesitate to ask questions. Even if online information appears limited, a direct inquiry may unveil possibilities and opportunities you might not have considered.

What advice would you give to ACC students who are considering transferring? For ACC students considering transferring, here are some pieces of advice based on my experience:

1. Plan Early: Start your transfer planning as early as possible. Research the policies and requirements of the institutions you are interested in. If certain information is not readily available online, don’t hesitate to reach out to the institution for clarification.

2. Do Your Research: Understand the educational systems of the schools you’re considering. Familiarize yourself with their requirements, and any other factors that might impact your transition.

3. Timely Applications: Avoid the last-minute rush when applying. Juggling school and other responsibilities can be challenging, but starting early allows you to tackle the application process gradually. This ensures that your essays are well-crafted and that you are less stressed as deadlines approach.

4. Consistent Effort: Dedicate a specific amount of time each week to work on your applications. Consistency helps you make steady progress and keeps you on track to meet deadlines.

5. Consult with Advisors and Specialists: Seek guidance from your academic advisors early on to plan your classes for transfer. Meeting with a transfer specialist can provide valuable insights and help you navigate the intricacies of the transfer process, especially if it’s your first time.

6. Take Risks: Don’t be afraid to apply to schools, even if you think getting in might be a long shot. Sometimes, surprising opportunities arise, and you may find success where you least expect it.

7. Communicate with Others: Talk to other transfer students and your professors. They can offer valuable insights and advice based on their experiences. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek support.

8. Express Gratitude: Show appreciation to faculty and staff who have supported you in your classes. They may be more than willing to write references or provide guidance during the transfer process. Don’t stop there! Keep in touch with them even after you transfer, they would be glad to help/support you whenever you need it.

9. Build a Network: Connect with fellow students; you’ll appreciate having a supportive network during your academic journey. Friends, professors, and mentors can provide encouragement and guidance.

10. Persistence Pays Off: Stay focused on your dreams and goals. The transfer process may have its challenges, but persistence and determination will see you through. Don’t give up, and remember that you have the capability to achieve your aspirations.

Staff Spotlight

Savannah Flores

Tell us about yourself: briefly describe what your tasks include at work. I assist with creating social media content, help students connect with our transfer specialist, and connect with students and different campuses.   

What do you like to do outside of work? Outside of work I like to play Fortnite, bake, and go on walks.

As a former transfer student from ACC, how does it feel to now be facilitating the transfer experience for others? When I transferred from ACC to Texas State, I was not aware of Transfer Services. I feel like my transfer would have been a lot smoother had I known about Transfer Services then. So, now it makes me feel really good knowing I’m there to help students when they’re ready to transfer. 

How has the ACC experience been? We’d love to hear about the moments, colleagues or projects that have contributed to your experience. The ACC experience has been wonderful. From the student perspective, ACC gave me the opportunity to raise my GPA to transfer to Texas State; had it not been for ACC I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. From a worker perspective, I love working for ACC – the people who work here genuinely care about one another and want the best for everyone. 

Do you have any advice for students intending to transfer? My advice would be to be your own advocate, and don’t be afraid to ask questions when talking to our transfer specialist’s, and start planning early! 

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