“Jump Start” your transfer program

Student mobility—a growing trend in higher education—provides an opportunity for schools to develop programs that create a seamless pathway for students to move between institutions. At AACRAO’s Technology & Transfer Conference, held July 6-8, presenter Phil Lewis discussed an innovative program that Appalachian State University implemented to meet the needs of incoming transfer students.  This transfer student support program —Jump Start Appalachian—helps build bridges between the receiving institution and incoming students.

Background

Appalachian State University has a transfer population of over 1,100 students, a large percentage of which transfer into the school from one of three partner community colleges. Recognizing the need to make the transfer process transparent and to help students with a seamless transition to a four-year institution, the university created Jump Start Appalachian.

Program Features

Lewis noted that this program is not a recruiting tool, but rather a support tool for students coming to Appalachian. Moving to a new institution can be overwhelming for many students; this program introduces these new students to campus in a way that is welcoming. The goal is to familiarize the incoming transfer students with Appalachian students, faculty, and staff. Activities and offerings include:

Mentor Program: Mentors, who are all transfer students from the partner community colleges, lead campus tours and meet enrolled students. They build student-to-student interaction.
Presence on Community College Campuses: Appalachian representatives visit the campuses regularly and help build relationships on the transfer student’s home ground.
Campus Visits to Appalachian: Students can meet mentors on campus and get their questions answered.
Extended Orientation: The Transfer Pre-Orientation Program offers sessions on financial aid, transfer of credit, advising, and involvement in campus life. It is a precursor to the official transfer orientation.
On-Going Support: Jump Start staff, student mentors, and faculty are committed to helping students adjust to campus and complete their coursework towards degree attainment.

“Jump Starting” student success

By creating a strong support system for their transfer students, Appalachian State University is also working towards improving retention and graduation rates. As Lewis stated, “Working with a student as a person rather than as a statistic can help with student success.”