When LSA sophomore Lauren Mosena transferred to the University of Michigan from Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. in the fall, she had two major challenges ahead of her.
Not only did she have to struggle through Michigan’s harsh winters, but she also had to adjust to a completely new university — with new professors, new classes and, hopefully, new friends. But because she was placed on North Campus, Mosena said that those were more difficult tasks.
“It has been extremely hard to meet people around me in Northwood,” Mosena said. “Everyone who lives up here already has their life here at Michigan figured out and aren’t necessarily looking for new friends — a lot of them keep to themselves.”
And Mosena’s experience is not an isolated one.
According to figures obtained by The Michigan Daily from University Housing, 76 percent of transfer students for the fall 2008 term — 199 of the 262 students — were placed on North Campus in either Bursley Hall, Baits I and II or the Northwood Community Apartments. And of those students, 91 percent — or 181 — lived in Northwood.
University Housing Spokesman Peter Logan said this trend is due to the fact that the kitchen and apartment-style living that Northwood offers is appealing to older students, and also that many transfer students request it.
But Logan said the decision is ultimately dictated by space. Because the University is responsible for supplying housing for first-year and returning students, transfer students aren’t always placed in ideal locations, he said.
“Transfer students are placed where space is available in University Housing facilities that they have requested or would be appropriate to their age and university experience,” Logan said. “We can’t always give a transfer student a placement that they prefer, but we do our best.”
Mosena said that when she finally managed to meet friends — who mostly live on Central Campus — it was more difficult to socialize with them because she lived on North Campus.
Adam Runkle, president of the Organization for Adult and Transfer Students, a student organization dedicated to helping transfer students adjust to life at the University, said many transfer students have voiced similar concerns.
“I have had several students complain of their placement on North Campus because it hinders their ability to maintain a social life with other students on Central,” Runkle said.
Runkle, an LSA senior, said many freshmen or non-transfer students living on North Campus already have a social circle, and that fact makes it extremely hard for transfer students to adjust.
When LSA senior Tae Won Um first arrived at the University, coming from Korea, he understood that he would probably have to learn new customs, styles and slang. But the culture shock that normally comes with moving to a foreign country was only exacerbated, Um said, because he was placed in Baits I on North Campus, isolated from many of his fellow students.
Um transferred from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea, last year, and said he has had trouble adjusting to life at the University because of where he lives.
“As an LSA student having all classes on Central Campus, it was neither a time-effective nor socially engaging life,” he said.
With the libraries on Central Campus having more resources related to his studies, he said, his placement on North Campus made life that much more challenging. It also forced him to be conscious of the bus schedule when going to study.
“The University needs to consider more carefully when putting students into dorms,” Um said.
Jennifer Brown, an LSA junior who transferred from Grand Valley State University at the beginning of this year, said she has mixed feelings about her experience as a transfer student residing on North Campus.
Brown was placed in Northwood III with many other transfer students that she said she probably wouldn’t have met if she lived on Central Campus.
“It is kind of nice to be living with other transfer students because we are all going through the same transition, and it is nice to have others that you can relate to close by,” she said. “However, I know a majority of the other students in Northwood probably have not had the same experience.”
Brown said she also felt unnecessarily isolated living on North Campus.
“Adjusting to a new college for the second time can be difficult as it is,” she said. “And feeling isolated from the rest of the campus makes the transition a little more difficult than necessary. Especially when a majority of my peers are living on Central and/or have already established their own friendships, living on North makes it harder to try to mingle with other juniors.”
In order to meet more students and become more “connected” with Central Campus, Brown joined Alpha Gamma Delta sorority shortly after she arrived on campus.
“North can be a deterrent to becoming involved in academic and social organizations,” she said, and joining the sorority has helped her become more involved with student activities.
LSA junior Kaitlin Terpstra-Sweeney, who transferred from Pasadena City College in Padadena, Calif., said she couldn’t completely adjust to life at the University of Michigan until she moved away from North Campus at the end of her first semester.
“It was a pretty lonely experience (living in North Campus),” she said. “I just had transferred this year from California, and because I transferred from so far away I didn’t know anyone.”
Terpstra-Sweeney said she made the decision to move off of North Campus because she “wanted better opportunities to meet people and make friends,” and since there was an opening in the Martha Cook Building, she grabbed it.
And, she said, “It has made a world of difference.”