Celebrating Transfer Students

by Eboni Zamani-Gallaher / Oct 23, 2018

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) is an organization committed to the transition, support, and success of transfer students through advocacy, education, and research. More specifically, NISTS advocates on behalf of transfer students, working to aid transfer students, professionals serving transfer students, and those conducting research related to transfer. Annually, the third week of October, NISTS leads the observance of National Transfer Student Week. Last week (October 15 – 19, 2018) campuses across the country celebrated transfer students.

Multiple institutional attendance is increasingly the norm form many collegians. Commonly today, students move between institutions. Some begin at a community college, then transfer to another community college or transfer to a four-year university. Others start at a university and transfer to a community college. Overtime, the varied patterns of attendance have become what are referred to as the student swirl. “Swirling” has contributed to a richly diverse student body at many campuses. However, while student swirl has broken what was considered conventional enrollment, amplifying transfer awareness, articulation, student services programming, and bolstering transfer receptive cultures is needed.

During National Transfer Student Week and beyond, two- and four-year campuses should actively share transfer data, share features on transfer student success and which transfer programs are most popular, initiate new institutional partnerships and transfer pathways. Other ways of bringing transfer into focus are hosting transfer fairs, providing professional development institutes for transfer advisors, program coordinators, faculty, and staff. Host student colloquiums that highlight student research and civic engagement of transfer students, hold a brown bag with community college transfer alumni, introduce a transfer mentoring program, and leverage social media to increase visibility of transfer student experiences.

The aforementioned are a few actions for creating a welcoming and transfer receptive campus climate. Considering how to engage and foster transfer student support campus-wide will enable transfer student connectedness. Furthermore, sharing transfer student stories are powerful. More counternarratives that display the vital nature of multiple on-ramps to postsecondary education and the importance of community colleges in the completion and further education for millions of students. At the Office of Community College Research and Leadership, several of our graduate researchers were themselves community college transfer students each of which are now PhD candidates. National Transfer Student Week is a great opportunity to share community college transfer students that have navigated pathways from the associate’s degree to the doctorate. Each of our staff credits their experiences at their former community colleges as pivotal in their educational success having given them a solid foundation for post-baccalaureate pursuits.

Learn more about the transfer process at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and see how to apply.