Editorial: NIU needs more help for transfers

Despite transfer students from community colleges composing a significant portion of NIU’s population, they remain some of the most ignored people on campus.

The school is hemorrhaging transfer students: 544 transfer students who attended NIU in the fall did not return for the spring for reasons other than graduation, and the enrollment of 1,881 new transfers in the fall marked a 1.7 percent decline in new transfers from the year before.

NIU can retain these transfers by using a more hands-on approach and helping students adjust to college life.

Transfers enter NIU on the same playing field as freshmen, but freshmen are relatively coddled with campus services designed just for them. Transfer students are thrown into the deep end and expected to keep up, but they need as much help adjusting to a four-year university as freshmen.

Retention Effort for All inComing Huskies, or REACH, is designed to aid those transfer students. REACH has upperclassmen call or email students to find out how they’re adjusting to NIU. This is a good first step, but it doesn’t go far enough. The program should be expanded to include face-to-face visits, giving it a more direct approach.

Additionally, the school needs to emphasize UNIV 201: Transfer Experience as an option for transfer students.

UNIV – 201 is designed to get transfer students acclimated. Denise L. Rode, director of First- and Second-Year Experience, said 16 to 17 percent of surveyed transfer students have taken the course.

“That leaves a very high percentage of transfer students that are not connected through that program because it’s a completely elective course,” Rodes said.

As some transfer students may not want to pay for the extra course, NIU needs to include portions of this course with orientation, or at least make this information more widely available for transfer students.

Additionally, NIU should start offering financial advising upon a student’s acceptance rather than at orientation and/or in the spring semester. At those points, information is coming too late for transfer students struggling to jump from paying community college tuition to NIU tuition.

Helping transfer students adjust is something NIU needs to rectify soon. Too many transfer students are slipping through the cracks.