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The Blue & Gray Press | May 20, 2018

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New Schools, Old Students

A recent study shows that thirty-three percent of all freshmen students entering universities across the United States in 2006 transferred and 25 percent of students transfer more than once.

The New York Times reported this in reference to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center 2012, an organization which studies student movement and action in higher education. Their efforts help “to better inform education leaders and policymaker,” according to its website.

Out of 877 first time, full time and degree-seeking undergraduates who started UMW in the fall of 2005, 123 transferred to other Virginia institutions within the past six years, according to Matthew Wilkerson, director of institutional research. This shows a 14 percent transfer rate.

According to the UMW common data set website, in the fall of 2007 a total of 232 students transferred into the UMW community, in the fall of 2008 a total of 234, in the fall of 2009 a total of 219, in the fall of 2010 a total of 231 and in the fall of 2011 a total of 243.

Last fall, 20 percent of the UMW incoming class was transfer students, according to Elizabeth Searcy, assistant dean of academic services and strategic initiatives.

Searcy is currently tailoring orientation for transfer students by creating activities separate from freshmen. Transfer students’ academic transition is also handled differently.

Searcy began meeting with transfer students to discuss credits and degree evaluations.

“Backgrounds of transfer students are varied and more specific one-on-one meetings are helpful to show where [students] need to be next as far as academics go,” said Searcy.

The New York Times article also stated that out of 37 percent of transfer students in their second year, 22 percent transfer in their fourth or fifth years and 43 percent of transfers overall transfer into a public two-year college.

After taking a Russian language course, sophomore Mary Caldwell decided to transfer next year to a larger university that offers linguistics as a major, despite the difficulty of adjusting to a new community.

“It’s kinda hard to jump into the social circle after two years, but I make friends easily. It shouldn’t bee too difficult,” Caldwell said.

According to the UMW website, students entering in or after the fall of 2008 must complete a minimum of 120 credits. A minimum of 30 resident credits is required for a student’s major.

According to Searcy, the UMW education provides an overall learning experience that attracts incoming transfer students, despite their surprise at certain credit requirements, such as the intermediate competency language requirement.

“The beauty of the liberal arts education, such as the one UMW has, is that while the selective major is important, the overall composite class cultivates well-rounded students,” Searcy said. “We are preparing students for global environments and being able to relate to other cultures.”

A maximum of 90 credits or courses may be transferred from a two or four-year academic institution.

Searcy’s advice to outgoing transfer students is to follow how credits will transfer by getting in touch with the registrar at their desired school.

“We try to connect them with support from the schools where they’re trying to go and help push that relationship forward,” said Searcy.

Sandy Thong, a freshman biochemistry major, will transfer from UMW in the fall to Virginia Tech.

“It’s about breaking off what’s familiar and things that you’re used to,” Thong said. “It’s really hard to let go of what’s familiar.”