Transfer program recognized for excellence
Towson University’s transfer program received a gold Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administration.
The association recognized Towson’s Testing, Translating and Transforming Transfer Transitions program for enrollment management, financial aid, orientation, parents, first-year, other-year and will honor the program in March at the 2013 NASPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Junior Emily Long said she transferred this past fall semester and said Towson did a great job welcoming her.
“Sitting with my future classmates and talking about similar experiences with transferring made me feel better about what I was getting into,” she said.
About two years ago, Towson made the transfer program an institutional priority, Director of New Student Programs Lisa Reagle said. The Testing, Translating and Transforming Transfer Transitions program didn’t come until July 2011 after Towson evaluated the previous program, TU Cares.
“Transferring students felt like second class citizens,” Reagle said. “Before we had students saying the University doesn’t care about them.”
Senior Jenn Heil transferred in 2010, she said, when TU Cares was still the transfer program at Towson.
“The only thing I will say that could be changed was the amount of students at the orientation,” Heil said. “If it was a smaller group of students, the advisers could have taken more time. It was a bit overwhelming but overall a really easy and good process.”
The new program involves two parts: a few months before transfer students arrive at Towson, the first part provides them with technical information, a free lunch with other transferring students in their college, registration for classes and then asks them to complete a survey about the experience at the end of the day.
“We take that data that night and send it out to all the colleges and departments,” Reagle said.
The second part of the program occurs the day before classes begin. The University holds sessions that explain resources that will help students become successful at Towson, like the Career Center, Towson traditions and how to get involved on campus.
Then throughout the semester, the program sends the transferring students follow-up emails, Reagle said.
One of the differences between the previous transfer program and the new one is the grouping of transferring students on orientation day into their colleges, Reagle said. Administration also tries to recruit students who have already gone through the transfer process to speak at these events.
Long, who is an accounting major, found these changes the most helpful at the beginning of her transfer experience.
“It was very easy to ask questions when I met with the accounting department,” she said. “Probably the most memorable part was when I actually got to talk to a transfer student from the spring about school and classes. It felt really good to talk to someone who had survived the whole process in one piece because I was nervous about going to a new school.”
Other changes made from the data from the surveys and focus groups they conducted showed many transferring students considered themselves non-traditional students. The program created a non-traditional transfer student orientation that launched in January. Non-traditional students are those who are older, have a family or other circumstances that make them feel different than the rest of the student body, Reagle said.
While Heil said she loves Towson, she didn’t find her advisers helpful during TU Cares but said she was happy she was part of a campus team.
“Honestly the best thing for me was being on the Towson Dance Team because I could ask my coach and teammates and generally they knew the answer,” she said.
All the data that Towson had was one of the main things that differentiated them from other colleges and helped them win, Reagle said. They also began viewing transferring students differently.
“A lot of people say ‘I’m a transfer student’ and we say ‘No, you’re a Towson student,” she said.