How to "fit everything in" as a transfer student

January 24, 2022

Line of tables with students and signs advertising student organizationsBeing a transfer student means trying to get the most out of UC Berkeley in a shorter period of time, but you might be surprised how much you can fit in!

L&S College Adviser and liaison to the Transfer Student Center, Torey Bookstein had some advice for transfers who want to do it all. 

Prioritize and Plan

Start with thinking about your goals for your graduation from Cal. What do you want to make sure you have ready for your next stage of life? That will help you understand your priorities for what you want to fit in. For example, if you know you want to apply for a teaching credential program after graduation, all the things that would get you ready for that application would be your top priorities. And then maybe your second priority is studying abroad somewhere fun. And when you get to your third priority, maybe a minor, you can see if it still fits in after planning in the first two. And it might! The more you plan ahead, the more you'll see how opportunities can come together. And making sure you fit in those things that are most important to you will make it more likely you'll think you used your time well when you reach the end of your undergraduate experience.

There also may be ways to achieve some of your goals after your graduation from Cal. Exploring these possibilities can help you make a bigger plan that extends beyond your graduation date.

What about changing my major?

If you've started at Cal and you've found a different interest or your major isn't what you hoped it would be, talk with an L&S Adviser before dismissing the possibility of changing to something else. Advisers may be able to find you a pathway to a new major, suggesting options that align with your interests and are able to be completed in your semester limit or unit ceiling. There are often options to do prep work at a community college without adding to your unit ceiling or ways to reorder your program plan that will give you the time you need. 

If through this process you realize you want to keep your original major, an L&S Adviser or a Career Engagement counselor can still help you assess your longer term goals. There are often multiple pathways to get to the same place. 

Get Support

If there's something you really care about getting done before you graduate and you're worried about fitting it in, or if you're struggling to figure out your priorities, there are resources available! Watch the 4 Steps to Success for Transfers webinar (see bottom of page!), which will give you the tools to think some of this through. You can also get support from L&S Advising, the Transfer Student Center, the Career Library or Berkeley Career Engagement. There are people available to help you focus on sorting out those priorities and see the time you do have. 

Also, the first semester at Cal is really wild. Lots of people get grades a lot lower than what they're used to during that transition and you may feel overwhelmed--that is all normal. So if you're just starting at Cal and you don't feel you have time to sort out those priorities now, after your first semester can be a good time to do it.


If you're a transfer student, you can fit more into your undergraduate experience than you might think! If you can, begin planning in your first semester at Cal. If your first semester demands you put your attention into school, it's okay to wait! In that case, check out our Connect with Academic Support page for resources on academic coaching, mentorship, and tutoring to help you nail your transition to Cal. 

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