10 Tips for You, Junior Transfer!

Welcome to Cal, fellow transfer! I too was a junior transfer this time last year. In light of this exciting new season, here are 10 tips from one transfer to another!

1. Habits

Habits guide our lives, especially when the semester gets tough and the calendar looks like a piece of artwork. That’s when the habits we built early-on, and every day since early-on faithfully pull us through the challenges coming our way, or not. So, take stock of the habits you have. Establish the (exercise, studying, media, eating, sleep, emotional) habits you want to have. Work on one or a few habits at a time, day by day.

2. Use the Lectures

Coming from my community college, the academic rigor at Cal was a substantial adjustment. There are an overwhelming number of resources available to you, but you need to figure out what helps you most. First off, I recommend going to live lecture (as opposed to webcasts) and take notes. Going to lecture gets me out of the apartment and into “work mode.” Also, write down and track the lecture points that confuse you so you can clarify those points later on.

3. Learn with People

Don’t solo it. Find study friends, sign up for tutoring (I recommend CSM for computer science courses), get comfortable with asking your TA questions! Also, take up any opportunity to explain or teach something: at a study session, to a classmate after lecture, or even by becoming a tutor for a class you want to really master!

4. Before the Final

Make a study plan for each test. This’ll guarantee you learn everything you need to before the test. And make sure taking 1-3 practice tests is part of that study plan! Taking practice tests can improve performance by whole letter grades.

5. Rest

With all the problem sets, reading, and lectures of my first semester at Cal, I struggled to find any time to rest, or play, or invest in hobbies. This can wear you down quickly, so make a point to reserve “not-work” time. And, take intentional breaks, even while studying. It’s better to study in 30 minute focused intervals, with 5 minute breaks in between, than to study for 6 hours straight despite ever-dwindling focus.

6. Target your Internship

If you’re a transfer aiming at a tech internship (like myself) start out by selecting a concrete job position to shoot for. This can change overtime, but it’s better to choose a definite goal so you can progress toward it, instead being stuck in decision paralysis.

7. Finish your Resume

Complete your resume and LinkedIn early. Set yourself an early deadline such as the end of the first week. Even if you’re resume is somewhat unfilled, at least get the format together so you can painlessly update it as your career advances.

8. Landing the Internship

Find something to talk about with recruiters and interviewers. For example, work on an interesting side project you feel excited about and put it on your resume! Also, ask for referrals. If you know someone that might be able to refer you, just ask! Referrals are a particularly important source of internship opportunities as they often guarantee an interview, that’s how I got my internship my first summer!

9. Community

I hangout a lot with my A2F community, it’s great here. These people brought a lot of warmth, strength, and friendship into my first year at Cal. Find a community of friends to hangout with, study with, eat with, stay awake with, live with.

10. Reflection

Reflection is an opportunity. It lets us see where we’ve been and where we’re heading, offering us a chance to thoughtfully adjust our life’s trajectory. I recommend reflecting on your day or week or month by simply journaling, regularly if possible!

Okay, that’s all for now! I hope these 10 tips help you on your way, junior transfer. See you on campus!


John Chin-Jew (class of 2020, Berkeley A2F) is an EECS student trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night. He's happy when seated by a large window, shuffling Spotify, reading fiction, and sipping mint-blended lemonade.

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