Change is never easy, but the goal is to make it a little less hard.
Students and administrators engaged in an open dialogue at the Commission on Transfer Student Resources’ first Transfer Student Symposium Saturday in the Michigan Union. The day included testimonials from a panel of transfer students and collaborative development of possible plans for the future.
The commission presented data from a survey it conducted, sent out to about 3,000 transfer students, which brought to light areas of concern.
The data showed that transfer students struggle most with the academic transition, regarding properly transferring credits and understanding the difficulty of the classes they signed up for. Of the 19 percent of transfer students who responded to the survey, the top challenges cited were time management and the rigor of University classes.
At the discussion, the participants also expressed concern with the short length of orientation for transfer students. LSA senior Tyler Mesman, chair of the Commission on Transfer Student Resources, said the overload of information in a few hours is often overwhelming.
Toward the end of the symposium, attendants were asked to write down goals on index cards. The goals of administrators and students mainly dealt with easing this academic transition for transfers.
Haley Gire, recruitment and admissions manager at the School of Education, said it is important for administrators have to support transfer students beyond orientation. For her goal, she suggested instituting a strong student ambassador program for transfers as a way to keep communication open with administrators.
“We need better communication with students before they get here, and also a network for them once they’re here,” she said.
Business sophomore Sarah Beatty wrote down a similar goal. She said that Transfer Connections — a student mentor program that places a group of LSA transfer students with a mentor — is a useful program, but is only open to LSA students. Beatty said expanding this plan to other schools in the University would be helpful to a business student such as herself.
Mesman said Saturday’s symposium was important for fostering future collaboration between students and administrators.
“That student-administrator contact doesn’t happen as much as it should,” he said. “The goal was really to get that feedback from students and get administrators to realize that the policies they enact have real effects on real people.”
Gire said the symposium was a valuable experience for an administrator to connect directly with the students.
“It was eye-opening, especially for the administrators in the room, to hear the realities of what could happen and what does happen for these students,” she said. “It was one of the most thought-provoking discussions I’ve seen with administrators and students together.”
Gire added that the control of the students in the presentation provided for the most honest communication.
“They gave us all of these talking points without administrators directing what the talking points should be,” she said.
Mesman said open, casual discussion was a major success for the symposium.
“People brought a lot of honesty and weren’t afraid to call out areas and criticize different areas of the administration.”