Transfergalicious Improving transfer student adjustment at

Improving transfer student
adjustment at four-year college
& universities
Scott Peska, M.A., Associate
Director of First-Year Experience and
Orientation and Coordinator of the
First Year Connections Programs,
Northern Illinois University
Artwork by Lenny Gilmore and published in the Northern Star (2007)
Presentation Outline
Review of Literature
Best practices
•Associate Director Orientation & First-Year
Experience at NIU
•UNIV 201: Transfer Experience seminar
•Doctoral student researching transfer student
•Community college transfer student
Fergalicious – adjective
Meaning: Fergie, a contemporary
musical artist (formerly with the
Black-Eyed Peas) is so attractive
that she drives men crazy (i.e.,
“make them boys go loco.”)
Derived from combining her name
with delicious
Transfergalicious – adjective
Meaning: transfer students are
such an attractive population that
institutions are expanding
programs to increase their
number of transfer students and
help them adjust to campus.
Northern Illinois University
• Four-year, public, comprehensive, doctoralextensive institution located 60 miles west of
• 18,600 undergraduates (3,200 freshmen,
3,100-3,200 transfers)
• 75 percent of transfers come from Illinois
public community colleges
• Majority (60 percent) of juniors and seniors
are transfers
• Transfer Center developed within past five
• New office for Commuting and NonTraditional Students established 2005
• Mandatory 1-day transfer orientation
Review of Literature
• How do we define transfer?
• Who are considered transfer
• Transfer student adjustment
Transfer Definitions
– Are individuals who transfer fewer than 12 credits to
be considered transfer students?
– Are students that are co-enrolled and transferring
their hours considered transfer students?
– Are students who are leave, attend elsewhere, and
return an institution considered transfer students?
– Is someone who attended a different institution 15-20
years ago and transferring those credits considered a
transfer student?
– How about a student who has 219 credits and is
entering to gain a teacher certificate?
Types of Transfer
• Vertical (2-4) Two-year to four-year institutions
• Horizontal (2-2; 4-4) Two-year to two-year or
four-year to four-year
• Reverse (4-2) Four-year to two-year
• Gypsy/Multiple (?-?-?) Attending more than
two institutions
(Jacobs, 2004)
Transfer Definitions
• McCormick and Carroll (1997) “Transfer
can be defined as a transition between
post-secondary institutions, in which the
second institution (the receiving institution)
grants the student credit for coursework
taken at the first institution (the sending
institution)” (p.1).
Transfer Definitions
Townsend (2002) investigates numerous
transfer rate studies and claims, “the major
difficulty in determining transfer rates is
deciding which students are to be
included” (p.15).
Characteristics of Transfer Students
• “Number & Variety” – commonly used to
describe community college students (Cohen &
Brawer, 2003)
• Fredrickson (1998) reported on more than 4,700
that the typical (mean) transfer student was
– Employed part-time
– 26 years of age
– Female
Characteristics of Transfer Students
• Grubb (1991) reported that a considerable
number of minority students who receive a
baccalaureate degree started at two-year
• Cohen and Brawer (2003) suggest that the
students least likely to transfer are adult
students that attend community colleges
Characteristics of Transfer Students
• In their NCES national study based on
longitudinal data, Peter and Cataldi (2005)
found that nearly twice as many younger,
dependent, traditional-age students (58%)
attended more than one institution
compared to independent, non-traditional
students (27%).
California State University, Chico Web Site (2008)
Characteristics of Transfer Students
• Eggelston and Laanan (2001) reported
that nearly 50% of community college
transfer students are from CTE programs.
• Many community college students transfer
prior to earning an associates degree
(Cohen & Brawer, 2003; Dougherty, 1992;
McCormick & Carroll, 1997; Townsend and
Ignash, 2000).
Transfer Student Adjustment
• Laanan (2001) states “student transferring from
one institution to another is going to experience
some form of adjustment”
• Community college students transferring to a
four-year institution have been well documented
that they may experience a number of academic
and social adjustment challenges (Berger & Malaney,
2003; Britt & Hirt 1999; Cedja, 1994; 1997; Diaz, 1992; Graham &
Hughes, 1994; House 1989; House & Keely 1993; Laanan 1996;
1998; 2001; 2004; Townsend, 1993; 1995; Townsend & Wilson,
Transfer Student Adjustment
• Steinmann, Pope, and Miller (2004) analyzed
academic research journals and found that the
majority of studies on the transfer process were
quantitative with a focus on academic
• “The drop out rate is high [for community
college students] and for students who
decide to transfer to senior institutions,
they experience a difficult adjustment
process” (Laanan, 2003 p. 498)
Transfer Student Adjustment
• Most common discussed is Hill’s (1965) findings of
“Transfer shock” (dip in GPA in first semester after
•Diaz’s (1992) meta-analysis
of studies investigating
transfer shock found that 79
percent of the studies
indicated a relatively low
magnitude of half a point or
less experienced and that
67% recovered their GPA
usually at the end of their first
Westmont College Admissions Web site (2008)
Transfer Student Adjustment
Townsend (1995) interviewed 24 transfer students
(16 who left the university) and found:
– Transfer students described the university as having
higher academic standards
– That they felt unprepared to attend the university
– Transfer students perceived the university as a
competitive environment
– That transfer students needed to be more self-reliant
– They perceived freshmen to be more prepared and
serious than community college transfers students
Transfer Student Adjustment
Bauer & Bauer (1994) surveyed 92
community college transfer students and
• Nearly 33 percent experienced difficulty
with making friends at the university
• 31 percent shared they struggled to meet
new people
• 30 percent reported personal self
confidence issues after transferring and
had difficulty “fitting in”
Transfer Student Adjustment
Keup (2006) found that 61 percent of 1,140
transfer student respondents rated
themselves as “above average” among their
peers in their social self-confidence.
Gumm (2006) found that the community college
transfer student’s interaction with peers was a
high social predictor of transfer students
persisting the following semester
Transfer Student Adjustment
Britt & Hirt (1999) Conducted group
interviews with 25 students and interviews
with 16 administrators
– They found that participants reported feeling
isolated and found the most difficult part of
their adjustment to the institution was in
making friends
– The administrators believed this was in part
due to the lack of institutional resources
available to students in the spring
Transfer Student Adjustment
Smith’s (1999) dissertation study
investigated the concept of mattering
through perceptions of 161 community college
transfer students and found:
•That nearly one third of the
participants perceived that
they did not matter to the
university (compared to the
community college)
•They found the university to
be less student-centered than
the community college.
Transfer Student Adjustment
Nowak (2004) interviewed 23 community
college transfer students and eight faculty
and found:
– That often the four-year institution made assumptions
that students transferring from community colleges
had similar experiences, when in fact community
colleges are vastly different.
– Perceived that they had to search things out on their
own at the university and did not feel that they knew
many people on campus
What we can, should, and need to
Best Practices
Transfer FIGS – University of Oregon
• Transfer First-Year Interest Groups are designed
for transfer students with major or pre-major
status, but open to all transfers
• Transfer FIGs are promoted during orientation.
• Transfer FIGs have a transfer student Teaching
Assistant to help address the unique needs of
trans transitioning to campus.
Best Practices
Transfer mentor/Ambassadors - University of
North Texas
• Transfer Ambassador Program connects new transfer
students with current UNT transfer students.
• Transfer Ambassadors attend transfer orientation
sessions and help personally mentor new transfer
• Transfer Ambassadors participate in a
"Transfer Panel" to answer questions
at orientation.
Best Practices
Transfer Seminars
• Radford University – UNIV 100-T
– Transfer student academic transcript evaluation
– Getting involved
• NIU – UNIV 201 –Transfer Transition course
– 1 –credit, 12-week graded course
– Extended orientation – academic & social aspects of
the community
Best Practices
Orientation options - University of Utah
• A 3-hour transfer orientation
• A 6-hour comprehensive transfer orientation
• An overnight transfer orientation
• A combined (freshmen & transfer) orientation
• Mini orientations (during the first day of
Best Practices
Welcome Week Events
• Transfer small group meeting – opening night
• Transfer Student Cookout
• Transfer student Academic Success/involvement
• Transfer student social dinner
Best Practices
Transfer Student Organizations
• Tau Sigma
– 50 chapters nationwide
– 14 Scholarships of $500 to $2,500
• Transfer Student Associations
– Transfer student BBQ
– Open house and transfer days
Best Practices
Brochures - University of Michigan
• Downloadable (PDF) Transfer Brochure -for
each term (summer, fall, winter, & spring)
• Includes:
Overview of the day
Important dates / Academic calendar
Registration information
Traveling to campus information
Important Contacts (phone numbers & Web pages)
How to access an online checklist of what students
need to do before arriving on campus
Best Practices
Web Resources - Use and promote national,
regional, and state online resources
Best Practices
Transfer student living-learning communities
or housing floors - University of California,
Santa Cruz
7 different residence
house floors or
apartments for
transfer students
University of California, Santa Cruz Web Site (2008)
Best Practices
One-on-one advising – University of
• In addition to talking with your
college/department academic
advisor, offer one-on-one
appointments with a transfer
advisor specialist to address the
needs and questions unique to the
transfer student experience.
Your thoughts
What do you do or are aware of on your
campuses that support the adjustment of
transfer students?
The end
For more information or the
references please contact Scott
Peska, at [email protected]
Artwork by Lenny Gilmore and published in the Northern Star (2007)
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