Brutally Honest: Transfer woes

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

It is no doubt that Millikin is an inviting environment. Faculty and staff, first year experience mentors (FYEMs) and resident assistants (RAs) go through training and preparation to welcome the incoming class of freshmen. With an entire week dedicated to them, they receive the chance to engage with others and scope out the Millikin atmosphere.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for transfer students.

Being a transfer student is hard. I would know because I am one. I personally feel that Millikin does not cater to transfer students as much as they should, and I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Senior Malcolm Branch came to Millikin last year after transferring from Ohio University. He is currently the Transfer Senator on Student Senate.

“At this time, I do not believe that transfers receive the same amount of care and accommodations as those entering their first year of college,” he said. “Even though transfer students do not require the same level of attention as those of first year students, we do need a program that will assist in adjusting to life on Millikin’s campus in particular.

“I do not believe that the current transfer program is effective enough with identifying the individual needs of transfers. I think there is a common assumption that because we have college experience that we don’t need the same level of direction. We may not need to be as closely watched in the general sense of adapting to the college experience, more so an influence to help engaging on a new campus.”

Yes, even though transfer students might have some college experience under their belts, a little more guidance would be helpful. Many transfer students feel like they were immediately thrown into the mix. I know I did. When I came in 2011, I felt like a lost puppy. Although I had a Transfer FYEM, she was pretty much useless.

“One of the biggest reasons why transfer students tend to have such a hard time acclimating to Millikin is because they are coming from a different playing field,” Branch said. “It’s hard to just jump into a clique with pre-existing students. However, it’s also hard to categorize us with other first-years because we have already experienced many of the things they are just beginning to see. I want to create a stronger network dedicated helping transfer students find their niche on this campus.”

In addition, Branch would like to get transfer students more engaged with the campus and faculty members.

“Similar to the LV and EGGE programs for freshman students, I want the transfer program to be more effective in personally reaching out to individual students, whether it’s by arranged monthly meetings, study tables, etc. I want something to help bridge and ease that initial transition period,” he said.

The question, “Should transfer students be required to attend First Week events?” is difficult to answer because not all transfer students are in our age range.

Transfer FYEM Danielle Mohrbach said, “Some transfer students that I met were parents, veterans and adult international students, and they may feel uncomfortable or awkward surrounded by first-year college students. Many of the First Week activities could be enjoyable and beneficial for many transfer students, and should be advertised as such, but I don’t feel that they should be required.”

Mohrbach believes that more activities and events that cater solely to transfer students should occur during their first few days here at Millikin, and perhaps throughout the year.

“This year during First Week, transfer students received a two-hour orientation followed by campus tour. Perhaps a luncheon or dinner could be held for transfer students, with some staff or faculty members also in attendance to meet and greet them. For example, Denise Myers holds a “Transfer Tea” at her home for transfer students who are Theatre majors. I would love to see an activity of this sort held for all transfer students.”

Bottom line – there needs to be more. Transfer students are members of the Millikin family, just like any other student. Hopefully some of the suggestions Branch and Mohrbach have given will be taken into consideration for the future.