Preparing Transfer Students for the Transition to UM

By: Taylor Lewis

As the University of Mississippi’s admissions process is well underway, incoming transfer students and UM faculty prepare for the second transfer student orientation session at the end of April.

According to Devin Maffei, a graduate assistant for Orientation, transfer student orientation requires a different approach because of the wide array of students they serve.

“We range from 20-year-olds transferring from community colleges to students that have taken years off and are now deciding to come back.”

The most recent data available, from academic year 2014-15, states that 1,941 students transferred to UM from community colleges and other institutions. Despite this number being lower than the university system average, Ole Miss is still known as being “transfer friendly”.

The transfer student experience at Ole Miss and orientation is a little different than the typical first year experience in several ways, which is why the orientation program has expanded the transfer sessions to include transfer-specific concerns.

Justin Mills, a senior transfer student from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, went through transfer orientation and has participated in several transfer programs.

“I felt I was prepared due to having many friends already in attendance at Ole Miss and many friends transferring with me, so the social aspect was okay. However, I still needed to find my niche at Ole Miss because a university offers different things than a community college,” Mills said.

Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience, understands the differences that Mills described.

“Their (transfer students) goals are much more immediate. They only have two years, typically, to complete their degree program here at Ole Miss,” said Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience.

“It’s harder for them to get involved. It’s harder for them to become a part of the community,” Knight added.

Jasmyne Tally, an incoming transfer student from Itawamba Community College, is looking forward to Orientation and meeting other transfer students, but she still has some fears about transitioning onto campus.

“Sure, some of my fears are not being able to find my classes and getting lost. Also, not making many friends and failing classes because I don’t know the intensity of them at the moment,” Tally said.

With such a wide range of transfer students all sharing similar concerns; the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience has developed numerous services and opportunities for transfer students.

“We have a separate Orientation experience for transfer students that are only for transfer students. We have two student organizations that are exclusively for transfers: Phi Theta Kappa Alumni, which is for alumni of the community college honor society, and then we have the Transfer Leadership organization, which is open to all transfer students. We also have a one-on-one mentoring program where a first year transfer is partnered with a second year transfer student. Lastly, we have two courses just for transfer students in order to acclimate them to campus,” Knight said.

“The best way I found to become acclimated to campus and student life is by putting myself out there and finding my niche,” said Mills. “I quickly learned that the best to get involved and make friends was to do things that put me out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.”

Knight credits these many programs and services as the reasoning behind “Ole Miss receiving the designation as a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Roll university, which is essentially those institutions that are most transfer-friendly in the United States.”

Last year, Ole Miss and LSU were the only universities in the South Eastern Conference to be awarded this distinction. For this year, Ole Miss and Alabama were the only SEC universities selected.

Tally said that Ole Miss’ reputation of being “transfer-friendly” was one of the reasons why she chose to transfer here as opposed to another in-state school.

Knight’s ultimate goal is to “establish a transfer center in which academic advising folks, tutoring folks, and all of the academic support type things could be housed in a single location where transfer could go.”

“In the meantime, my unit, the first year experience unit, is kind of acting like a transfer student center,” Knight said.

Knight does have one piece of advice for incoming transfer students, like Tally.

“Get involved. Ask for help because we have lots of resources and it’s terrible when we lose a transfer student because they didn’t know where to get help.”

 

Sources:

Devin Maffei

dmaffei@go.olemiss.edu

Dewey Knight

rdknight@olemiss.edu

(662) 915 – 1166

Justin Mills

jdmills1@go.olemiss.edu

(228) 219 – 0464

Jasmyne Tally

jktally@go.olemiss.edu

What Works Assignment #8

For this week’s What Works Assignment I decided to analyze the Clarion-Ledger article, “Miss. teen says he was ‘forced’ to stand for Pledge”. What made me select this article was the headline because people refusing to stand for the pledge has been in the news quite often within the past year because of athletes like Colin Kaepernick. There were several things that worked in this article, but there were also a few things that didn’t work. The headline itself worked because it is fairly SEO friendly because when I type in “Miss.”, “teen”, and “pledge” into Google, the Clarion-Ledger article is the first result. By being SEO friendly, the article is already more appealing to the reader and is much more likely to be seen by a larger audience.

One aspect of the article that didn’t work for me was the lead because it didn’t seem credible nor did it grab my attention. The lead was a hard news lead, but was a paraphrased quote. I don’t think that the journalist should’ve started off the story with a paraphrase because it didn’t answer the 5W’s and I would’ve liked the lead to tell me when the event occurred. If I were writing the story, I would’ve just stuck with a traditional hard news lead because the story lost some credibility for me by having the lead be a paraphrased quote.

Although the story wasn’t lacking in quotes from the students mother, there weren’t any other sources. In my opinion, the lack of sources was a major problem with this story and I wouldn’t of let it run with no other perspectives. Obviously, the student’s mother is going to be bias towards her son and she didn’t paint the school nor it’s officials in a very positive light. Besides a short paraphrased blurb from the School Board President and the Superintendent, the story was all quotes from the mother. To me, the beginning of article just seemed like one big rant. If I could’ve written the story, I would’ve gotten the opinion of other parents or maybe find a student who witnessed the actions of the student. I just feel that the story lacks a personal touch or any substance and is just a lot of he said, she said.

Another thing that this article was lacking was a nut graph, but the closest thing I found to one was the 11th paragraph now. I thought that the information in that paragraph would’ve been more beneficial towards the beginning and before all the Kaepernick information. However, the order of the story was also a problem for me. I felt that the story would’ve benefitted by removing all the filler paragraphs on the “meeting” and moving the quotes from Anna Davis upwards because I felt her perspective was very interesting.

Overall, the story didn’t really work for me because the journalist was all over the place as far as sources, flow, and order. I really wish that the lead would’ve been different. The story would’ve benefitted by a narrative lead of the incident or just a more specific hard news lead. Either would’ve been better than a biased paraphrased quote from the mother of the student who wouldn’t stand. Also, the story had a lot of quotes from the mother and some meaningless quotes from school officials. The story would’ve benefitted by another student’s perspective who saw the incident or maybe some background information on how other schools have dealt with such issues.

Devos Appointment: A Call to Action for UM Students

The confirmation of Betsy Devos as the new Secretary of Education, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, created mass controversy among those directly impacted by public education and those involved with non-profit organizations, like Teach For America.

Devos’ confirmation also sparked an innumerous amount of public outcry and a stream of social media posts in-support of public education, which there posts were easily identified using #productofpublic.

Coinciding with the public’s uproar, Teach for America, a non-profit organization that works to strengthen the movement of educational equity and excellence, issued a statement following the appointment of Betsy Devos.

The original statement release by Teach For America, has since been altered. However, the original statement began as follows:

“We call on the secretary designee and president-elect to uphold these values in pursuit of an excellent and equitable public education for all.”

The statement then moved on to highlight what Teach For America stands for an how their stance on public education will not falter with the incoming administration.

“We will continue to fiercely advocate and defend policies that are core to our mission and that increase opportunity for our students,” the statement read.

To several Ole Miss students, who are involved with Teach For America, the statement reflected their perspectives and seemed like a call to action.

Dylan Lewis, a senior journalism major at Ole Miss and a 2017 Teach For America Houston Corp Member, stated his own personal concerns with Devos.

“Teach For America deals with a lot of low-income areas and, as we have heard countless times, Devos is not really interested in public education and has had no experience in public education,” Lewis said.

Lewis decided to apply to be a 2017 Teach For America Corp Member because of his personal experience in public schools.

“When I was growing up, school was always a safe place for me and, as I progressed in school and got into college, I found that the feeling of safety never changed,” Lewis said.

Yet, as of late, the field of education has had a different, droning tone.

“It’s really scary to know that Devos may or may not fight for Teach for America and low income areas,” Lewis, reflecting on his personal concerns with the new education administration, said.

Yet, despite his concerns, Lewis seems more inspired to enter into education since Devos’ confirmation.

“I’m fueled. I’m fueled to keep fighting inequality in education,” Lewis said.

Since Devos’ confirmation, Lewis is one of several students that feel more inspired to enter into education and the Teach for America program.

Emily Hoffman, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, interned with Teach For America in summer of 2016 and plans to intern there again this summer.

Reflecting on her previous internship experience with Teach For America, Hoffman said, “It really changed my perspective on things. Growing up I had always wanted to be a teacher and my mom was a teacher for my entire life. I really looked up to my mom and I saw teachers as the most powerful people in the world, which they are, but as I got older I realized they were underpaid and under-appreciated.”

Hoffman, like Lewis, also has reservations regarding Devos’ administration.

“Under Devos administration there will be less of a focus on these children who actually need our help, but don’t have the necessary resources,” which Hoffman accredits to Devos’ lack of experience with public education.

Hoffman, like Lewis, feels fueled by Devos’ confirmation and it has further incited her desire to be involved in education.

“Devos’ appointment has definitely made me come to terms with the fact that I need to do this (Teach For America) because focusing on education and educational inequity has become very important to me,” Hoffman said.

Lewis highlighted one of the biggest takeaways from this past week for these those involved in public education.

“I think that educators are beginning to realize that the future could be a scary thing. But I’m not scared to go into a field that is facing a lot of uncertainty and fight for the kids that need to know that they have opportunities out there,” Lewis said.

 

Sources:

Emily Hoffman (in-person interview)

(530) 852-1544

 

Dylan Lewis (in-person interview)

(662) 296-8515

dlewis3@go.olemiss.edu

 

Teach For America (aggregated sources & press release)

https://www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/media-resources/news-releases/teach-america-statement-appointment-us-department-education-0?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=comms&utm_medium=ownedsocial&utm_content=secretarystatement

https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/tfa-makes-a-statement-on-devos/

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