By: Taylor Lewis & Rebecca DeLuna
With almost 2,000 transfer students joining the Ole Miss student body each year, the Office of Admissions Orientation welcomes them with a two-day program that is geared toward helping them transition onto campus with ease.
“The best way I found to become acclimated to campus and student life is by putting myself out there and finding my niche,” Justin Mills, a senior transfer student from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said. “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.”
Mills, who came to Ole Miss as a junior in 2015, became involved in various organizations on campus, as well as, a member of the 2016 Orientation Leader Team.
The most recent data available, from academic year 2014-15, states that 1,941 students transferred to UM from community colleges and other institutions. Although Ole Miss has a lower percentage of incoming transfer students in the state, Ole Miss is still known as being “transfer friendly”.
“Were recognized by Phi Theta Kappa, a community college honors society as one of the two only transfer honor roll honorees in Mississippi. Delta State and our school received the distinctions this year, but last year we were the only one,” Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience, said.
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.
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.
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 sessions to include transfer-specific concerns.
“Transfer orientation prepares students for life at Ole Miss both socially and academically,” Brittany Deisher, a graduate assistant for Orientation programs, said. “They are connected with students of similar backgrounds and they also have the opportunity to network with people.”
According to Deisher, transfer student orientation requires a different approach because of the wide array of students they serve.
“[Transfer students’] goals are much more immediate. They only have two years, typically, to complete their degree program here at Ole Miss,” Knight said.
Tasia Tsiplakos, sophomore transfer student from the University of San Diego, said, “Transfer orientation is less focused on meeting other people at orientation. It primarily teaches you about information pertaining to financial aid and what not. The age demographic is also different because it is older people transferring in so it is less of ice-breaker stuff.”
Tsiplakos had a positive orientation experience in May 2016 and enjoyed how it was informative and how the advisors prepared her academically.
Deisher said that because transfer students come in with so many credits from their previous institutions, advising is more challenging and there is a greater emphasis placed on making sure all of these credits are transferring.
“Transfer orientation is different because, since it is older people, they keep it simple, but the orientation leaders are still as enthusiastic. Also when registering for your first semester during orientation they help you with the classes you already have done and give you a layout of what you need to get done,” Tsiplakos said.
However, Orientation is only two days and after the session has ended the experience for each transfer student is different for several reasons.
“It’s harder for them to get involved. It’s harder for them to become a part of the community,” Knight added.
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.
Mills took advantage of several transfer student opportunities and does credit his easy transition onto campus by becoming involved in various organizations.
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.”
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.
As April Transfer Orientation approaches, Knight said that the best advice that he could give an incoming transfer student, like Tally, is to enroll in EDHE 305 and understand who their academic advisor is.
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