Healthy transitions: Resources for transfer students
Transfer students make up nearly one-quarter of each incoming UW-Madison class, and as with every transition, specific resources can help ease the process.
One of these resources is the Transfer Transition Program, led by Tracy Mores, the Assistant Director of Transfer Initiatives within the Center for First-Year Experience. Following a five year career in transfer student admissions, Mores joined CFYE in 2013to serve as a resource to the diverse population of transfers UW welcomes each semester. “The mission is to understand and improve the student experience,” says Mores. “We do a lot of social and educational programming to help transfer students meet other new students, get to know the campus, and familiarize with the community.”
Mores has spent much of her professional career working with transfer students, first as a transfer admissions counselor, where she got to know the population. “I liked how diverse of a population it was,” says Mores. In fact, one-third of transfer students are first-generation students, and eight percent transfer from colleges outside of the United States. In comparison to non-transfer students, transfer students are more likely to be veterans, more likely to receive Pell grants, more likely to be working off campus, and also more likely to be working more hours.
With these differences can come potential challenges and responsibilities to juggle on top of the typical student workload, all within a new and unfamiliar environment. Although transfer students come in with previous college experience, every institution functions a little bit differently, so there can be a learning curve. “It can be disorienting to try and figure out how to apply that same skillset to our institution when things work so differently, and process of unlearning and relearning can be a hit to confidence.”
That’s where the Transfer Transition Program comes in. “Programs like this aim to have a centralizing effect, in that students can come here for answers,” says Mores. The program is multifaceted, offering referrals to campus resources concerning academics, housing, health, finances, transportation, and more, and organizing events with former transfer student ambassadors designed to build community and connection among students. The program provides support and guidance from the moment a transfer student thinks about applying to UW to when they graduate.
In partnership with the Transfer Transition Program, traditional UW students can also support transfer students by maintaining an environment that is inclusive and aware of their population. Mores encourages student organizations recruiting new members to recruit “new students,” not just “freshman,” and emphasizes that admission for transfer students is actually more competitive than freshmen admission, contrary to popular belief.
The goal is that the services and social connections provided by the program can help ease the stress that comes with transitions and adjustments. In an effort to succeed academically in their first semester, often while taking very rigorous, upper level classes right away, it is easy for transfers to only focus on academics. However, Mores advises transfer students to recognize the positive impact of getting involved. “Even if it’s just one thing, it can help schedule time better, stay on task, and even improve academic performance.”
The final piece of advice Mores offers to transfer students is to ask for help when they need it. UW is abundant with resources, it is just a matter of finding them. “There is no silly question,” says Mores. “There are only questions that move you forward.”
Written by Gina Nerone, UHS Web and Communications Assistant