University Campus Extends a Welcome Mat to Incoming Transfer Students

August 11, 2010

University Campus Extends a Welcome Mat to Incoming Transfer StudentsTransfer students are representing a larger segment of the undergraduate population at University Campus these days, and the university is welcoming them with dedicated services.

As many as one in five of the 696 new undergraduates at University Campus this month will be transfer students from other institutions. Economic conditions––including enrollment caps in the Florida state university system and Saint Leo’s competitive tuition among private institutions–– are making the university stand out as an appealing choice. As transfer students actually arrive in two weeks, they’ll find special tools and programs Saint Leo has devised to help them succeed in the next two to three years.

Many of the students transferring into Saint Leo University will be juniors who have graduated from community colleges, explained Amanda Canier, Saint Leo’s transfer admissions counselor, but some are also transferring in as sophomores, after a year of college elsewhere.

Saint Leo’s business programs are the single most popular academic draw this year, she said. Education programs are also popular. “Ninety percent of them come in knowing what they want academically,” Canier said, so the key is to orient them quickly to the specific courses, advisors, and support services that match their academic objectives.

Cherie Hatlem, who recently joined the university as transfer student advisor, started helping students earlier in the summer by e-mail and by phone, getting them registered for fall courses, and finding answers to some longer-range planning questions. Though students have faculty advisors in their specific academic departments, many faculty members are unavailable during the summer months when incoming transfer students first have questions, so Hatlem helps with the transition. “Many of them are coming in with well-prepared questions about how to complete their educational goals,” she said. “That’s fine, because we want their first connections with Saint Leo to be positive and reaffirming.”

Transfer students will get more opportunities to talk as they start reporting to campus for the first day of classes, Tuesday, August 24. During a campus orientation program on Saturday, August 21, they will have opportunities in the morning and afternoon to meet with academic advisors to iron out any problems with schedules or class selections. On Monday, August 23, new transfer students will get a special overview session about University Campus, the Learning Resource Center and its tutoring programs, academic questions, campus life programs, financial aid, and other services.

There’s a lot of information to pack into just a morning session, Hatlem said, so the students will be strongly encouraged to take a recently developed course called SLU 200: Successful Transitions for Transfer Students. The one-credit course will meet for six weeks and give students a fuller introduction to the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library, the Learning Resource Center, Saint Leo’s opportunities for studying abroad for a semester, part-time jobs on campus, the Office of Career Planning, and more. “They need to make those connections on campus promptly,” Hatlem said, and SLU 200 helps. The course is also an opportunity for transfer students to get to know each other, she observed.

Then, as the semester unfolds, the transfer students should begin to feel a comfort level with each other, with their regular faculty advisors, and with the staff of various departments. “I’m there as a safety net,” Hatlem said.

To contact Amanda Canier, e-mail Amanda.canier@saintleo.edu. To reach Cherie Hatlem, e-mail cherie.hatlem@saintleo.edu.