How can an institution make transfer students feel welcome? York College (Pennsylvania) has developed strategies to ease many of the stresses of transferring and make transfer students feel like a priority.
“We all -- registrar and admissions alike -- have the same goal of recruiting transfer students,” said Katie Schwienteck, Acting Director of Admissions and Director of Transfer Admissions at York. “We don’t need to work in silos.”
Gateways, not revolving doors
Often, for transfer students, institutional processes such as recruitment, advising, evaluation, housing, financial aid, and admissions take place as independent processes that can feel totally disconnected from one another. A student may need to visit a dozen individual web pages and sift through each to find the one sentence related to transfer specifics.
“Services should overlap in a way that makes students feel like it’s one big, seamless process. Even when things are in different areas on an organizational chart, the student needs to feel like the college is helping in a unified arena,” Schwienteck said.
The goal at York is for each office -- admissions, housing, financial aid, student affairs, and so on -- to serve as a gateway to the others, rather than just referring students to different offices for different questions. Employees in each department can offer basic answers in all relevant areas, and will help the student transition to a specific office if the question is more complicated.
“Rather than telling students ‘that’s not my job,’ the person the student is talking to becomes the service provider,” Schwienteck said.
Targeted teamwork and resources
Building a transfer-friendly culture started at the top--the president supported the establishment of a Transfer Team comprised of personnel from the admissions, financial aid, and registrar offices.
“The Transfer Team gave us synergy,” Schwienteck said. “To get everyone on the same page, we had a big meeting with everyone doing transfer work -- including deans and VPs -- and talked about the idea of the team and what it meant, so students get the same answers about policies and procedures from anyone they ask.”
From there came the Transfer Resource Center, a team of professionals dedicated to transfer students; a transfer-centric website where every piece of information related to transfer students can be found in one area; and “Transfer Tuesdays,” when students can visit campus and get their questions answered by admissions, registrar, and other essential student support services.
“We’ve seen an increase in transfer enrollment directly related to pulling these resources together,” Schwienteck said. “Students know that no matter who they call first, they’ll get an answer to their questions.”
Schwienteck will discuss York’s transfer student success in her session “Two Offices, One Goal,” at the AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference, July 9-11 in New Orleans. Register now for the early bird discount.