Orientation for Transfer Students


Transferring from one institution to another is a significant change in the lives of students.

Reasons for Transfer

  •  Some students start college at a two-year institution with the intention of transferring to a four-year institution.
  •  Students attend two-year colleges for a variety of reasons.
    • Financial considerations
    • Geographic proximity
    • Availability of remedial coursework
    • Admission standards
  • Poor institutional fit:  Educational opportunities or the social environment of the original institution are not congruent with the student’s expectations, abilities, future plans, academic performance or comfort level.

Characteristics of Transfer Students

  • A diverse group with many different needs
  • Concerned about course transferability
  • May be confused about articulation agreements
  • Preexisting ideas of what higher education is, based on their experience at the “sending institution”
  • Must start over and face the stresses of a new, perhaps more demanding environment
  • Bring a unique prior experience to their orientation

Challenges for Transfer Students

  •  Transfers have to learn a new organizational system to complete their education and learn how to get things done.
  •  Transfers have to learn how to navigate a large bureaucracy – where to find what they need.
  •  Transfers may face social and emotional issues they have not encountered previously.  (Homesickness, making new friends, becoming more independent)
  •  Financial issues and resources may be harder to address at a new institution.
  •  Academic issues may present challenges – university coursework can be more challenging, with more emphasis on independent student learning, students enter at a more advanced level than freshmen.
  •  In order to fit in, transfers may not ask questions and risk looking like freshmen.  These questions could open rewarding opportunities for them but they remain unexplored – shortchanging the student’s  experience.
  •  Transfers may need to learn time management skills to adjust to school, work and social life.

Advising Transfer Students

  • Realize that each transfer brings a unique background to the advising session. 
  • Help students articulate their interest in a major or field of study.
  • Beware: Don’t advise students to take a course they have already taken.
  • Always refer to the Advisement Report before recommending a course.  Check to see if requirements are satisfied by transfer courses with different names and course numbers from UNI.
  • Assess students’ academic abilities as they take major classes.  How many foundational or prerequisite classes have they taken?  Ask them about their experience in the courses.
  • Transfers may express emptiness, confusion, frustration or lack of direction.  Try to help define the problem so it can be addressed.
  • Show hospitality to transfers.  They may be overwhelmed by the transfer experience.  Try to provide students with the attitude that it’s great to ask questions, and at UNI there are lots of people to help.

Adapted from:  Academic Advising, A Comprehensive Handbook.  Virginia Gordon, Wesley Habley.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass Inc. 2000

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