Finding connection in Seattle

Taylor Muñoz

Transfer student used social media to aid transition into SPU

Gianna Fransisco, adjusting her eclectic collection of art work and photos that adorn the walls around her bed. Heidi Speck | The Falcon

Arriving to college for the first time comes with an onslaught of different emotions — excitement, nervousness, or curiosity about what will come of the next few years.

For students directly out of high school, it is an experience unlike anything before. The same can be said for transfer students, who are also adjusting to their new university.

However, it can also be isolating or discouraging for many, as they are sometimes overlooked in orientation activities catered to networking incoming freshmen.

Students like Gianna Francisco, however, sometimes turn to different kinds of networks to learn more about the university they will be attending.

Social media has served an important tool for transfer students like Francisco, who used it as a point of reference for the experience and atmosphere at Seattle Pacific University after she was accepted last year.

Francisco, a California native and second-year transfer student, moved to Seattle in the fall of 2018 after transferring from California Baptist University. She is one of the roughly 300 transfer students that Seattle Pacific University accepts annually, according to their website.

Although SPU provided Francisco with necessary information about the specifics of moving into her dorm and registering for classes, she said she learned a lot about the university on her own.

“I took it upon myself to be looking at social media,” she said. She researched various clubs and groups on campus, like MODE Fashion Group, to learn more about student life at SPU.

Francisco used an SPU-facilitated Facebook page for first year students to find her now-roommate, Claire Conway; they live together in Emerson Hall.

Francisco was also connected through social media with someone who is now an RA in Emerson Hall, Allison O’Connor, by a friend she met at CBU. Upon meeting O’Connor, Francisco met multiple people.

“Social media really helped me to meet some of my closest friends,” she said.

It’s also how she became reacquainted with SPU last year. Francisco applied to SPU her senior year of high school, but chose to attend CBU instead. Struggling with doubts about finding her place at CBU during her freshman year, a coincidental visit to Seattle last spring with her family served as a gateway to Francisco’s move.

Joined on vacation by her mother and grandmother, who is native to Seattle, Francisco decided to give SPU another chance.

“As soon as the plane touched down in Seattle, I was like ‘Mom, I never looked at Seattle Pacific. I would love to go look at that school,’” Francisco said. “I didn’t realize how unhappy I was at Cal Baptist until I got to Seattle. I was like, ‘Wow, I really belong here.’”

On that same visit, Francisco toured the school.

The university was able to pull up her records from when she’d initially applied her senior year of high school.

She filled out documents to provide the specifics of why she was transferring, wrote short paragraphs, and sent in transcripts.

SPU accepted her the next day.

“I was like ‘Yep, I’m done. I’m gonna be in Seattle,” Francisco said. “I’m gonna regret this if I don’t move.’”

Although coming from California Baptist University, whose enrollment is double that of SPU’s, Francisco is content with the size of her classes and major.

Francisco is studying interior design, alongside the 12 other students in her year who have also been accepted to the major.

This small group of students spend a considerable amount of time together, as they’re all in the same class sequence. This has been another way for Francisco to make new friends on campus.

She says she wishes she had these kinds of networks upon initially arriving to SPU last fall.

Placed in an orientation group with more first-year students than transfer students, Francisco was disheartened and isolated.

Gianna quickly fell in love with Seattle. She knew after her first tour of SPU that it was where she wanted to be. “Yep, I’m done. I’m gonna be in Seattle.” Heidi Speck | The Falcon

“It was kind of discouraging, because I didn’t find people who had a similar experience than I did.”

She says she wishes there would be more transfer-specific groups or communities on campus that new students can find comfort and community in. She also sometimes struggles with feeling like she’s playing catch-up to the experiences of her friends who’ve been at SPU for more than one year.

“It’s kind of hard to hear people talk about their freshman year and about these great memories that they’ve made in other living areas around campus, when I didn’t experience that,” Francisco said.

However, she remains grateful for the impact her experience at CBU had, as well as social media, on the forming of her relationships in Seattle.

“I think last year really helped me get to the point where I am this year, so I don’t want to look too poorly on my freshman year,” Francisco said. “I’m glad I started at CBU because I feel like it gave me a greater appreciation for the new friendships I’m making this year.”