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UI transfer students to receive a helping hand

BY CASSIDY RILEY | JANUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa is reaching out a helping hand to transfer students.

After roughly a year and half of planning, and an $85,000 grant from the UI Provost’s Office, the Transfer Think Tank is ready to start breaking ground on its proposals to improve the transition for transfer students.

“We started initially by just building the think tank,” said Michelle Cohenour, UI director of retention in the Univesity College. “Our first year and a half was really gathering folks around the table.”

Focus groups were held in the early stages to help the developing think tank discover transfer students need help on two fronts: social and academic.

“Essentially, the themes were, ‘I need to figure out how to get connected,’ and, ‘This is a different environment to navigate,’ ” said Sarah Hansen, an assistant vice president for Student Life.

The proposals submitted to the Provost’s Office for funding are meant to address both the social and academic needs of transfer students. They include a transfer-student version of the On Iowa! Kickoff at Kinnick, a transfer-student mentoring program, and an online virtual success center.

There are six proposals in all that the think tank is beginning to implement, and each one has its own subcommittee to oversee it.

Cohenour said transfer students are a group that need special attention on campus because they are going through a transition much like first-year students, yet have that first-year experience under their belt.

In 2010, retention for transfer students was at 79.5 percent, while 85.6 percent of first-year students returned for a second year.

As part of the implementation of the proposals, the think tank hired UI graduate student Rose Lane to oversee the implementation of the many projects being worked on.

“I’ve never been a transfer student, but I know how difficult it is to uproot and move to a totally different school,” she said. “I know how difficult that can be to connect in a new place and feel a part of the new school.”

Before coming to the UI, she was a teacher in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Hawaii.

Lane will work most closely with the planning and implementation of the mentoring program and virtual success center. She said she is most excited about the mentoring program because she knows from personal experience how mentors have helped her in her life. She believes they will benefit transfer students as well.

“When you’re coming into a place that is so large and is already very intimidating, it’s just nice to have that personal connection,” Lane said. “It’s like you automatically have some you relate to.”

Also working on the mentoring program is UI junior Morgan Miller, who transferred to the UI last academic year for her sophomore year. She said she was asked to be a part of the think tank to help give the student perspective on the implementation process.

“The main reason I want to be involved is because I came to the university, and within my first semester, I was proud to be a Hawkeye,” she said. “I want to build that same pride for other transfer students. If you have pride in your university, you want to say at your university and represent it well.”

Miller said when she transferred to the UI, she felt as though she had to do a lot on her own in terms of getting acclimated to the new school and community.

“I’m really excited that I can be that voice for transfer students,” she said.


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