Ultra Vires


Attention Transfer Students

How to make friends when you’re new in town

As I reached the three-week mark in my 2L journey at U of T Law, it was time for some introspection. The overall transfer experience has been notably positive, gradually alleviating my  initial anxieties. However, transitioning from a close-knit 1L group at the University of Ottawa hasn’t been without its challenges, occasionally evoking a sense of solitude when I see bar nights being organized in our previous small group chats. I decided to check in with my adopted family of transfer students and discuss their experiences thus far. 

During our conversations, a common thread became evident. Our primary concerns did not revolve around the 2L OCI process, the substantial tuition increase relative to other Ontario law schools, or even academic challenges (though one student did voice concerns about not knowing where they stood in a “non-bell curve” grading system that is unique to U of T Law). Instead, we all grappled with some degree of insecurity when connecting with our peers and forming meaningful bonds with other upper-year students. For many transfer students, the central issue boiled down to one question: How can we achieve social integration when tight-knit bonds within 1L small groups have already solidified?

To future transfer students, I’d like to share five steps I’ve personally taken to address this concern:

1. Participate in the Transfer and Exchange Student Orientation

The Faculty hosts a dedicated orientation session for transfer and exchange students on the first day of the semester. During this session, you’ll gain insight into the resources available at the law school and receive an overview of extracurricular activities. To help you get acquainted with the campus, an upper-year student will provide a guided tour of the law buildings. More importantly, this event offers a valuable opportunity to connect with peers in the same circumstances as you. Building those initial connections is easier during lunch, and yes, it’s free. It’s strongly encouraged to attend this event, so make every effort to be there—it’s worth it!

2. Enroll in the Student Mentorship Program and connect with your mentor

In late July, you’ll receive an email from Admissions inviting you to join the Peer Mentor Program. Ensure you submit your application by the August 1 deadline. I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity; my peer mentor, who coincidentally shares my first name, has been an invaluable resource. It’s a simple way to acquaint yourself with some incredibly helpful and genuinely fantastic law students. Of course, your experience may vary, but my mentor even organized a party that I’ll be attending.

3. For those participating in OCIs, enroll in the 2L Recruit Buddy Program

Upon receiving your transfer admissions email, reach out to the Career Development Office to inquire about the OCI recruit buddy program. My own recruit buddy has proven exceptionally valuable in offering guidance for navigating the insane OCI process. She is also super nice and generally a great human to be around. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity to know another friendly face on campus!

4. Check out the Clubs Fair

One of the easiest ways to meet new friends is to share a similar interest or hobby. Fortunately, the law school hosts a club fair at the beginning  of the fall semester. I strongly recommend you attend and join clubs that align with your interests. If you want to get a preview of what’s available, you can check out the active clubs on the U of T Law website

5. Email the Students’ Law Society (SLS)

Admissions might overlook sending the transfer student email list to SLS, which organizes various social events. To be in the loop and stay informed about events like Call to the Bar, shoot an email to the SLS to ensure you get on their mailing list. Attending social events organized by fellow law students is an excellent way to expand your circle of friends! 

These steps are all based on my personal experiences. While I can’t claim to have fully settled in, I can certainly say that Jackman feels much more like home today than it did on September 5, 2023. 

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