Vision 2020 should take care of transfer students’ needs

By Editorial Board

According to the NIU’s fast facts website, “NIU yields the highest number of transfer students out of all the Illinois state universities.” However, under President Peter’s Vision 2020 Initiative there are few, if any, plans to attract a higher caliber of transfers.

The university spends valuable time and resources to recruit from community colleges and other universities. They even have an agreement set up with certain community colleges to accept any student with an associate’s degree.

According to the transfer admission requirements website, “A graduate of an Illinois public community college who has not previously attended Northern and has completed a baccalaureate A.A., A.S., or approved A.A.T. degree will be admitted to NIU. The student will enter with junior standing, and all NIU general education requirements will be considered complete.”

NIU seems so adamant about attracting four-year freshmen and not getting labeled as a “transfer school” that it seems to alienate a significant portion of its student body.

According to the 2010-2011 NIU Data Book, nearly 60 percent of seniors in 2010 were transfers.

We understand why the university would want to attract more freshmen. More freshmen equals more money for the university by way of residence hall expenses, meal plans and fixed tuition rates.

Nevertheless, NIU attracts transfers for a variety of reasons, including lower tuition rates compared to schools in Chicago and a close proximity to the city. We don’t understand why NIU doesn’t take advantage of its transfer school status and run with it.

Maybe in the past, transfer students – especially those from community colleges – were stereotyped as lazy and dumb, but that’s not the case anymore. In this economy, community colleges across the state show record increases in enrollment. Some students can’t afford the tuition for a typical university anymore; at least, not for four years.

There are smart students who go to community college, and NIU should be accommodating them by making the university more transfer-friendly.

One way NIU could do this is by adding a transfer department within the University Honor’s Program. This department would coordinate activities and advise transfers on honors classes.

Adding a job counseling office to help transfer students find steady employment locally may also help. Again, many students who went to community college did so to ease the financial burden of higher education. By helping those students find jobs, they may be more inclined stay at NIU.

Finally, NIU should take further steps to provide a variety of housing options for transfers that are close to campus. Beside residence halls, NIU only offers Northern View Community apartments for transfers.

According to the Northern View Community website, “Northern View Community is home to undergraduate students who are at least two years post high school, graduate students, law students or any student who has a dependent and/or a partner or spouse.”

This is a start, but not enough, especially since Northern View Community is located far from campus, near the Convocation Center.

Students who live at Northern View Community pay rent each semester through the Bursar Office, according to the Northern View Community website.

NIU should try partnering with local realtors to provide similar housing options for transfer students closer to campus.

If we embrace our status as the No. 1 transfer school and provide services and a variety of housing options to non-traditional students, this could help NIU meet Vision 2020’s projected enrollment of 30,000 students.