The transfer student perspective: From Mercer County to Rider University

By Tori Pender

The current pandemic has allowed for periods of reflection as well as newness. Yet, a process that should have been simple, transferring colleges has become harder and more awkward during this time.

I graduated from Mercer County Community College in May, received my diploma via mail and the college skimped on online graduation or even mailing the graduates tassels.

Nothing about graduating was exciting to me. I missed out on a journalism conference in New York City and missed out on making valuable connections for my career field. When I won awards for my previous news pieces, I could not be excited due to the confusion of everything that happened since March.

When it came time to finally commit to a college, I was stuck between Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and Rider University. For me, these colleges were on equal footing, both were giving me the same amount of aid. Both had the same clubs I was interested in, but the final decision was made due to location.

According to, 21% of students surveyed have changed their first-choice school due to the pandemic, most cited cost and location to be a factor.

I have lived in Hamilton Township my whole life, I have been to Collegeville, Pennsylvania, once when I was 11 years old for a dance competition. So Rider it was — since it was the only school I was familiar with.

I could not get excited about making my decision. I just wanted to be done with school. I kept telling myself, “maybe I should take a gap semester.”

According to, “fourteen percent of college students said they were unlikely to return to their current college or university in the fall, or it was “too soon to tell.” Exactly three weeks later, in mid-April, that figure had gone up to 26 percent.”

However, I knew if I took a gap semester, I most likely would not come back to a school environment.

“Transfer students have it especially tough because, by one’s junior year, a lot of students already have friend groups, clubs they’re involved in and they’ve found their niche,” stated Kathleen Smith, a communications alumna of James Madison University.

Besides, being shy and a little anti-social, I found it extremely difficult using Zoom to connect and join new clubs. Zoom makes conversations uncomfortable at times especially when lag occurs on either end.

I joined the Multicultural Student Leadership Institute – Transfer only because I knew of the culture of that club since my friend joined it her freshman year and I already knew the board and student workers through that mutual friend. If I was left up to my own devices, there is no way I would have joined any club until we were physically on campus.

I have not joined any dance-based club for that same reason. I am not going to do virtual dance sessions after being a dancer for 16 years of my life. The excitement has vanished when it comes to any events that I would have typically been thrilled to participate in.

There is a newness to everything, first being on a new campus. I do not know where anything is. All my previous connections with professors are not here.

There are not many familiar faces on campus.

“It’s only two more years,” is the deadly mentality that I started to develop during this process. Two years is nothing compared to four years, why should I bother putting myself out there if it is only two years.

Aaliyah Patel, a freshman communications major stated, “Transitioning from any school to another is always overwhelming, especially now during a pandemic when the process is all virtual. Rider did a great job at being accessible and holding events remotely which made it easier.”

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