A time for transfers

When sophomore journalism major Samantha Richcrick transferred to Temple from Pittsburgh’s Point Park University last fall, she couldn’t help but feel like just a number.

“It was a lot to get used to,” Richcrick said.

Like many of her peers, the thought of starting over at a new school excited Richcrick. But she wasn’t the only transfer student who found the transition to be a challenge.

Junior psychology major Matt Lavon came from Bucks County Community College, and even though his former school had prepped him for the transition, Lavon felt lost and confused, and had difficulty meeting other students.

“Everyone seemed to have their own clique and their own group of friends,” Lavon said. “I joined six clubs in the first few weeks, but couldn’t seem to meet anyone interested in talking with me.”

The Office of Orientation offered Lavon and the 2,700 other fall transfer students an online orientation to help familiarize them with campus, said Moira Stoddart, program director of orientation and new student programs.

“The program began for transfer students in ’06 in response to data collected from transfer students indicating a need to offer a more flexible program that will fit better with their school and work schedules,” Stoddart said.

Unlike a traditional orientation, which most freshmen attend, the online orientation only goes through an overview of Temple’s resources and programs.

Sophomore education major Tim Moore, a transfer student from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said he would have preferred a more personal orientation.

“I didn’t like the idea of an online orientation,” Moore said. “I wanted to meet my fellow transfer students and see the new city firsthand.”

Though transfer students can attend an orientation with the freshman class, this option was only available upon request, according to the Office of Orientation.

“If I had known Temple would have allowed me to experience a regular orientation, I would have attended,” Moore said.

However, not all transfer students feel as though the online orientation is a negative tool.

“I thought the online orientation was great for me, because I had already been to Temple with friends and knew the ropes,” said junior English major Kim DeBellio.

Aside from orientation, some transfer students sensed miscommunication in attempting to find information geared toward transfer students.

After three years at Penn State University, senior history major Karlee Cornak ran into such problems when completing the online orientation.

“Every time I talked to someone, I received different information,” Cornak said. “It’s not fair that transfer students like me are pushed aside and forgotten.”

Junior journalism major Tiffany Wilson transferred from Kent State University this fall, and shared some of her problems in adjusting.

“What Temple seems to forget is that we are new students, just like the freshman class, and we need just as much help adjusting to Temple and Philadelphia,” Wilson said.

Stoddart recommended that transfer students get involved and take their education into their own hands.

“We realize they have experience in higher education and Temple is new to them,” Stoddart said. “We want transfer students to discover as much as possible about the organizations, leadership programs, ways to volunteer, research opportunities and the myriad ways to emerge themselves on Temple’s campus.”

Dr. Thomas Ling, a psychologist from Bucks County, Pa., addressed the psychological problems that may potentially emerge when transferring colleges.

“Students are taken out of a familiar setting, and placed in an entirely new environment,” Ling said. “Unlike freshmen, transfer students have already gone through the emotional adjustment with their old school, and may be inclined to feel more out of place or bewildered when transferring schools.”

Ling advised transfer students that it takes time to settle in and find your place.

“If it takes you two semesters to adjust, it’s fine,” Ling said. “The best possibility for success is for students to find other clubs with similar interests.”

Some of the problems that transfer students go through are typical of freshmen, which can leave some transfer students with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, Ling said.

“The experience is different from their previous school or university,” he said. “The safety net that was provided as a freshman is no longer available.”

Still, not all of the transfer students who come onto Temple’s campus experience a problem adjusting. Junior finance major Britnee Tinsley transferred from Adelphi University on Long Island last year, and her experience was a positive one.

“Even though I was very apprehensive about coming to Temple, I’m glad I transferred,” Tinsley said. “I met a great network of friends that showed me around this campus.”

Since the fall, changes have been made to the amount of support that is offered to incoming transfer students. Transfer students were welcomed to attend an on-campus transfer orientation Jan. 21. In addition, there is a plan for a transfer student seminar course in the future, Vordran said.

“Despite the problems I’ve experienced, I’m excited for the changes,” Cornak said. “In time I’ll be just like everyone else.”

Stacy Lipson can be reached at
stacy.lipson@temple.edu.

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