Transfer students on campus celebrated Oct. 21-25

Oval in spring with students

Did you know that nearly one in three Colorado State University students transferred in from somewhere else?

It’s true. While most students come to CSU for their first year right from high school, thousands of others – about 30 percent – transfer here from community colleges and other four-year institutions around the country.

That fact is being celebrated Oct. 21-25 during National Transfer Student Week.

“Transfer students face some challenges that first-year-first-time students do not, and schools across the country are recognizing those challenges and providing programs to help those students succeed,” said Heather Matthews, program coordinator and transfer adviser for CSU’s Bridges to Baccalaureate program.

Different challenges

Some of those challenges include unexpected demands in academic rigor, navigating a new university environment (sometimes in the context of a new town/community), and engaging socially with other students. Feeling disconnected from the campus community can make students less likely to participate in high-impact practices, such as research and internships, which lead to a sense of belonging and higher rates of retention and graduation.

Mark Liesz, a non-traditional student in the computer science program, not only struggled with CSU’s size but the fact that he wasn’t able to connect to the other, younger students.

“The first semester was just chaos, and there was no familiarity,” said Liesz, now a second-year student. “The large classes were intimidating, so I just didn’t ask questions with so many people in the room.”

Fortunately, Liesz got involved with a learning community at CSU, which turned his experience around.

“I didn’t think I’d be in this place two years ago,” he said. “Now, I’m here and I believe I deserve to be here.”

Support to graduate

CSU has implemented a number of programs to help transfer students assimilate and, ultimately, graduate. They include:

• Transfer student-specific admissions procedures and counselors
• Transfer student-specific Ram Orientations prior to each semester
• Orientation and Transition programs, including Transfer Transition Leaders (peer mentors)
• Transfer student seminars that offer credit for students as they transition in their first semester

CSU has established a special relationship with Front Range Community College, which has campuses in Fort Collins and throughout the Denver Metro area. Programs include Bridges to Baccalaureate and the Wolves to Rams Scholarship for STEM students.

Rachel Fleming assisted with this story.