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08-27-19-convocation-chase-sutton

Every student at Penn has earned their acceptance: You are here because you are unique and a part of what makes Penn “Penn.”

Credit: Chase Sutton

Dear Class of 2021 Transfers,

Welcome to Penn, new transfer! My name is Asaad Manzar and I am a rising College senior who transferred to Penn one year ago. As someone who was once in your shoes, I can personally relate to the thrill, anxiety, and unease that you may be experiencing right now as you begin to embark on this new and exciting journey. Rest assured that you are not alone. This letter is composed of advice that I would have found helpful when I transferred to Penn a year ago, and I hope that you can benefit from them as well.

On imposter syndrome: “Imposter Syndrome” is defined as feeling unworthy of accomplishments and worrying that other people will find out that you are a fraud (in other words, having thoughts like, “I don’t deserve to be at Penn”). I distinctly remember feeling this way during my first week at Penn, when I started meeting other Penn students who appeared to be brimming with talent and potential — in glaring contrast to myself, who I felt boasted zero notable awards or special talents. Imposter syndrome happens to be especially common among high achievers, and the best way to overcome it is by reaching out more: Make an effort to get to know more of your peers, because in doing so, you’ll start to find that you are far from alone. Your feelings of being an imposter are completely fabricated. Every student at Penn has earned their acceptance: You are here because you are unique and a part of what makes Penn “Penn.”

On support systems: Penn provides an abundance of resources to its students (both new and current). In addition to these, as transfers, we are all part of the Transfer Student Organization (TSO) — Penn’s transfer community who, during New Student Orientation (NSO), helps to accommodate the new transfer class. After NSO, TSO will also host other transfer-specific events like formals, reunion lunches, and game nights throughout the year, so make sure to come to these so that you can get to know your fellow transfers! TSO was an instrumental part of my own transition to Penn, and I am forever grateful for all the support I received from them when I first arrived here. Make sure to browse through our website; we’ve all worked meticulously to compile the information that you will need to transition to and thrive at Penn. And please never hesitate to reach out to any of us on the executive board if you have any questions.

On getting involved: Being a transfer can sometimes feel alienating due to the fact that we start our Penn journey later than the typical student. Fortunately, Penn makes it easy to get involved on campus, and I would encourage you to take advantage of all that campus has to offer. Joining clubs is a great way to further your personal and academic interests while also making friends with like-minded people. The Penn Clubs website is a wonderful resource for information on all student organizations. In addition, Penn is home to many cultural centers that provide support and specific resources to their members. At Penn, you may come across students who exclusively pursue pre-professional interests, but I would encourage you to join clubs that satisfy your personal interests as well. Your time at Penn should be wholesome, encompassing both academics and leisure.

On mental health: Transferring to a new college can be stressful, and sometimes that stress can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Penn has many resources that cater to its student body’s mental health. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is Penn’s official center for serving all aspects of students’ mental well-being, and it is open to all Penn students, including through a 24/7 hotline. In addition, I would encourage you to take advantage of Penn’s many academic resources while here. The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships helps Penn students get involved with research, fellowships, and intellectual engagement. Furthermore, the Weingarten Center provides academic assistance through its three different offices: the Learning Resources Center, which helps students improve their study strategies and time management; the Tutoring Center, which offers tutoring, workshops, and course-review sessions for a vast number of courses; and Student Disabilities Services which provides services for students with disabilities. There are many other places that can help during your time at Penn, and it's important to ask for help when you need it.

Transferring schools requires immense courage and faith, and those character traits bind all of us transfers together despite our different backgrounds. Congratulations on making it so far! I am certain that you will cherish your time at Penn, and I am personally rooting for you on this journey. Make sure to attend TSO events, and I hope to meet you all at NSO! 

Best, 

A Penn Transfer

ASAAD MANZAR is a College senior from Dallas, TX studying Neuroscience. His email is asaad01@sas.upenn.edu

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