Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
Travel Students

Transfers: Overlooked students

Are they more than a needle in a haystack?

Stop treating transfers as freshmen.

Taylor University has worked hard to make its campus a place where everyone can feel loved, but one specific group of students has struggled with fitting in. They are infused into the culture, but are often mislabeled or forgotten.

“Philosophically, we treat them very uniquely,” Scott Gaier, director of the Academic Enrichment Center and professor of higher education, said. “But then, no matter how it plays out, there isn’t that uniqueness, because, you know, transfer students are in the Foundations course with freshmen.”

19-year-old sophomore student Aliya Phelps transferred from a community college with unhealthy student culture aspects, so when she heard about the student clubs at Taylor, she wanted to get plugged in.

“Being a transfer socially is harder than being a freshman socially,” Phelps said. “If you come in as a junior or as a sophomore, you only have like three years.”

She asked a worker for the Student Activities Council if there were any positions available and was told they were only looking for freshmen who would be there all four years.

Phelps additionally found out that being involved in the Student Senate wouldn’t be a viable option because the senate members for her class had already been picked out the previous year. While incoming freshmen have the ability to try and be a part of the decision-making process, she wouldn’t have a say.

She found this to be counterintuitive.

“Transfers have a lot more experience than freshmen do, like juggling college and life and jobs — we know how to do that,” she said.

Gaier worked with a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) program a few years ago, who wrote her thesis on the transfer experience she had at another college.

“All these things were extremely helpful in helping us at least philosophically think through the transfer experience — what we ought to be thinking about the transfer experience,” he said.

Taylor was ready to implement some new aspects, but when the pandemic hit, there were transitions in leadership within Foundations, Gaier said. He added that it is now something that needs to be revisited.

Part of what needs to be revisited is the support that they receive during their first year on campus.

Jeff Aupperle is the associate dean of Calling and Career (CCO) at Taylor. The CCO aims to connect students with their passions and direct them towards opportunities that will give them real-life experience.

Aupperle said that transfers are resilient, but it is difficult to enter Taylor’s strong culture midstream.

“I feel like freshmen get a lot of resources that sometimes transfers don't always get because they're not coming in the traditional ways, you know, with other freshmen,” he said.

Taylor could improve on having more of an ongoing welcoming process that extends past the first week on campus, he added. It would be good for Student Development or Admissions to reach out to them throughout the first year to make sure they are getting connected with the right people.

23-year-old sophomore transfer Collin Miller said Taylor should make it a priority to host events for transfer students so that they can meet others in similar situations and not feel as alone.

“Advertise ways for transfers to connect with one another and kind of form their own bonds and community like everyone else is able to do,” Miller said.

Chip Bii, director of Taylor World Outreach, said his hope is that some of the things Taylor does are coming from good intentions, but he understands that sometimes they end up still not being the right actions to take.

“It's not enough to just have a good intention,” he said. “We ought to look and examine — are these actions or steps, or things that we’re doing — are they actually meeting the need?”

Taylor wants its students to live “life to the full,” but first, it needs to show some of them what that looks like.