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UMBC should implement more post-admission tools for transfer students

When imagining a new UMBC student, one might picture a teenager just out of high school, unfamiliar with college life. While this is true of many incoming freshmen, transfer student culture at UMBC and nationwide is very expansive.

According to a study performed by the National Student Clearinghouse research center, 37 percent of the students who entered college as freshmen in 2008 transferred schools at least once. Because of lateral student movement through universities in the United States, every college should have a competent transfer student admissions and advising office.

UMBC, who has a 12 percent transfer student ratio, provides a host of information for potential transfer students through multiple offices. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions provides a step-by-step plan of how to apply for transfer admission, including specialized instructions for international transfer students and spring transfers. The Registrar’s Office goes into more detail about transfer transcripts and credits by providing a website that states the UMBC equivalent of classes students have taken at their original schools.

UMBC also has a specialized Transfer Student Alliance (TSA) that works with local community colleges, such as CCBC and HCC, to ensure student admission, scholarship and potential housing for those with associate’s degrees from specific schools. The TSA program can even help waive the transfer application fee.

However, once a student has successfully transferred to UMBC, the specialized information slows to a trickle. Dakota Simons, a sophomore undeclared major, recently transferred from Towson University to begin at UMBC for the fall semester. “The transfer process was easy for the most part,” Simons said in an interview, “One major change I would make to the transfer process is an inability to meet with an academic advisor and schedule classes after a certain point in time.”

As of now, the UMBC policy on transfer students scheduling classes is that they must wait until they attend orientation to pick their classes and meet with their advisor. Simons believes it would be more beneficial to the students if they were able to meet with advisors before orientation, “because a student would then be able to ask questions and find out information they may need for a specific class, such as where the building is located, during the orientation.”

This is only the first of a few possible changes that would greatly improve the overall experience of new transfer students. Another possible post-admission tool is a set of transfer-specific advisors prepared to organize classes around those with irregular major paths. Sometimes a transfer student will have to retake a few basic classes if their credits are incompatible with their UMBC degree progress, and the average advisor may not be accustomed to planning a schedule with a mix of basic and advanced classes.

These, amongst other additions, are needed to refine UMBC’s incoming transfer package. It is one thing to ensure that students can quickly and simply transfer to UMBC, and another to make sure that they are informed, comfortable and better able to succeed as new students.