NIU drops the ball on programs for transfer students


Northern Star file photo

Columnist Angelina Padilla-Tompkins believes NIU can do more for their transfer students.

NIU prides itself in being a great place for transfer students but does little for them once they arrive on campus. 

Across the United States, many students choose to attend a community college before transferring to a university. 31% of community college students transfer to a 4-year university, according to inside higher ed. 

Freshman and undergraduate transfer students have quite a bit in common as they have similar experiences given that they are new students to NIU and its environment. 

Just like freshmen, they are unsure of where to meet people, how to get involved, where to find scholarships and how to manage their time at university. 

NIU claims to offer substantial scholarship opportunities for its students, one example being merit scholarships. Freshmen and transfer students are considered for merit scholarships automatically upon acceptance. However, transfer students are offered significantly less money than freshmen. 

Merit scholarships are based on an individual’s GPA. Freshmen with 3.0-4.0 are offered between $1,000 and $7,000 per year, but transfer students are only eligible for up to $2,000 per year. 

Angelica Ross, a junior biomedical engineering major, transferred to NIU during her sophomore year from Wright State University. Ross said she struggled to find scholarships available to her as a transfer coming to NIU. 

“With scholarships and financial aid, I think they (NIU) could definitely do much better with transfer students,” Ross said. “It was really hard to find scholarships and money.”            

Other public universities in Illinois offer great support to their transfer students compared to NIU. 

Keegan Livengood, a junior psychology major at Illinois State University, had a smooth transition from Illinois Central College, which he credits to the help he received from ISU. 

ISU has an admissions team specifically for ensuring transfers feel comfortable and understand how their credit hours transfer from a community college or another university. 

“ISU kind of has an admissions team specifically for transfers, so they made sure I kinda had all my classes transferred over,” Livengood said. 

ISU does a great job at creating opportunities for transfer students to get involved and meet other students who are new to campus.

“ISU has specific orientation days for transfers so students can get to know other transfers and get oriented with the campus,” Livengood said. “They also have transfer socials that aren’t necessarily part of your orientation day. But most of the time do take place during it, which is again, where you can meet more transfers, kind of get to know some people on campus there.”  

ISU also has a registered student organization, Transfer Redbirds, that is run by transfer students whose goal is to help make the transition for other transfers easy. Additionally, this organization helps other campus groups meet with transfer students and help individuals find other students with similar majors.  

Livengood said that if he didn’t have these resources, he wouldn’t be nearly as involved on campus and wouldn’t have met many people. Livengood said he is grateful to ISU for making the transition from a community college to university a smooth one. 

On the other hand, while Ross is happy to be on NIU’s tennis team, her greatest struggle was finding scholarships available to her as a transfer in good academic standing. 

There is no reason why Northern Illinois University does not do more to help all of its new students, no matter where they came from.