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Miami’s transfer students deal with extra adjustments relocating in pandemic

When the University of San Diego (USD) announced its 2020-2021 school year would happen entirely online, Andrew Schneider decided it was time to move.

Schneider had been taking classes at USD and training for Paralympic table tennis at a local recreation center. With his training facility likely headed out of business, Schneider could see he faced an academic year holed up in his expensive apartment.

In July 2020, he packed his things into the car with his parents to drive home to the heart of the country.

“That was quite an experience,” Schneider said.

And it was just the beginning.

Four days in the car brought Schneider back home to Columbus, Ohio, where he had the rest of the summer to prepare for his start at Miami University.

Schneider, part of Miami’s class of 2022, is one of many students who transferred to Miami in the middle of the pandemic, which added new layers of difficulty to being the new student. 

Transfer students have been trying to make the transition to Miami with most courses and extracurriculars happening online, and in-person socializing not exactly being encouraged. 

For students like Stephen Kopcho, the year has been something of a false start.

Kopcho, an Emerging Technology in Business and Design (ETBD) major and neuroscience co-major, chose to transfer from Zane State College in Zanesville, Ohio, because he didn’t like the information technology curriculum being offered there.

He said he visited Miami and ended up loving it, but the move set him back academically when only one of his classes transferred for credit.

“This will be my second year in college, but after transferring here, I’m basically a freshman,” Kopcho said.

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Things were complicated further when Miami delayed the in-person start of the fall 2020 semester by a month.

“I was pretty upset about that,” Kopcho said. “I definitely wasn’t excited to be doing all-online from home, especially since I was so excited to be going to Miami.”

Part of what Kopcho liked about Miami was living away from home for the first time, but with just under two thirds the typical student presence on campus, Miami’s living experience isn’t the same.

The on-campus population dwindled largely because COVID-19 kept many students remote, but also because of Miami’s exception to sophomores’ on-campus housing requirement, which came in response to the pandemic.

That exception has worked well for some transfer students like Sam Crisalli, an Akron native who started at Miami in the spring 2021 semester, having been drawn by friends looking for another roommate for their off-campus house.

Crisalli withdrew from the University of Kentucky in fall 2020. She said it didn’t feel like her ideal college experience, and Miami has been an improvement.

“I feel like it’s an authentic college campus here,” she said.

A public health major, Crisalli has enjoyed her first semester. She knows that she hasn’t fully transitioned to Miami yet, though.

“I’m having a good time, and my classes are good and everything, but I know that everything is going to change again next semester, so it’ll be more adjusting,” Crisalli said.

Schneider said his transition has been smooth. He kept his political science major from the West Coast and got involved in the university debate team as well as the honors student advisory board.

Schneider knows he left a lot behind, though. He no longer trains for table tennis, and the sun doesn’t shine quite as often in Oxford as in San Diego. But he said he’s grateful for what he’s found at Miami this year.

“You just kind of have to accept it and move on,” Schneider said. “I’m quite honestly glad that I’m here now.”