By: Mary-Ellen Davis, News Editor and Marcus Whitman, Staff Writer
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight, Illustration by Victoria Nicholson/ The Towerlight
Towson University is home to students from many walks of life, including those who transfer from other colleges and universities across the nation. Transfer students come in with their own unique experiences and Towson is looking for ways to help students make the jump as seamlessly as possible.
According to TU President Kim Schatzel, approximately 2,200 of last fall’s incoming students transferred into the university to become a Tiger. She added that another 300 to 400 joined this semester.
“One fourth of students who transfer from a Maryland community college come here,” Schatzel said. “That’s more than any other university system of Maryland institution. That’s more than any other institution of higher education in the state.”
Stressing that each student comes from a different background, Schatzel mentioned that many transfers come from those who are underrepresented in student populations. Groups like veterans, Native Americans, Latinas and first-generation college students are more likely to be transfer students, according to Schatzel.
“Being supportive of transfer students and really recognizing their unique needs is something that we want to get super good at,” Schatzel said.
To help students get a head start, Schatzel said that TU’s new Transfer Services Center will be a one-stop-shop for transfer Tigers instead of hiking between buildings to get everything done.
“You come to campus and you have to have your transcript evaluated and then you have to figure out what you have to take to do your major and then you have to figure out your financial aid,” Schatzel said. “And we’re sending you to like four buildings.”
The center will provide students with a place to get course and transcript evaluations before they even enroll at Towson. Transfers can also go to the center for academic advising should they need it.
Another resource available to students is the Transfer Mentor Program.
“There is a transfer mentor program that is that is… volunteer based where the faculty and staff sit down with the students one on one and help them with the transfer process,” said Sean Welsh, TU’s director of communications.
For the program, Towson faculty and staff from departments across campus are partnered with students to help them with activities like broadening professional networks,give career advice and find ways for transfer students to get involved on campus.
Meghan Behm, an advisor for the College of Business and Economics, feels that initiatives like the Transfer Student Center and the mentor program are important to have given the number of students on TU’s campus that come from other institutions.
“It is beneficial to have because a lot of the transfer students need the additional help figuring out what is available for them,” Behm said. “So I think it is great we have these programs now.”
Norris Miller, a senior business administration student, had good remarks about the transfer process into TU.
“It is a very pleasant university experience and everyone has been very helpful,” Miller said.
Yet, Towson’s transfer programs don’t just start and end on its main campus. Towson University Northeastern (TUNE) is a satellite campus devoted to supporting local transfer students, who are its only enrollees.
Last fall, TUNE’s entire student population was 664 students, many of whom came from local community colleges like Howard Community College.
TUNE’s Academic Program Director Joyce Herold said the campus offers these students nine different academic programs, including communications studies, psychology and criminal justice.
“We are true Towson,” Herold said. “This campus is filled with Tiger spirit and Tiger programs that really help students, no matter what they’re interested in, connect something that has meaning for them.”
Since the school is comprised of only transfer students, aspects like the transfer mentor program were almost built into the schools fabric.
Joella Anzelc, the assistant director for TUNE’s psychology program, said that because of the small size of the program, students and staff often know each other well which allows for staff to better mentor students and give them the help they need to get their degree.
“The disadvantage is that we will get to know you,” Anzelc said. “The advantage is, we get to know you. I think we’re able to help them on a more one to one basis.
TUNE also gives transfer students the opportunity to form close bonds with one another if they choose to according to senior Megan Scott, a psychology and criminal justice double major. She is involved in the student advisory committee, has a job on campus and helped start TUNE’s LGBTQ+ Ally and leadership student group.
“The thing about TUNE is that there are plenty of ways for a student to create a family within their cohort and get involved, but they have to want to,” Scott said.
Herold added that surveys are completed both before and during the degree program to pinpoint student interests.
“A lot of times, it’s centered in preparing for their career and also learning more based on what they want to do when they get out of school,” Herold said.
The variety of options that Towson University offers its transfer students, Schatzel said, shows that the university is a pathway for people of all walks of life to get their degrees.
“Some people graduate with the major that they picked when they started the first day, there are some people that change their major three times, there’s some people who come here and stop out for a semester and come back,” Schatzel said. “Some people started at community college or another four year college. There’s lots of different ways to be able to get a college degree and we want to be able to provide the way that there are multiple pathways for people to achieve that.”
-Karuga Koinange contributed to this article