Transfer Orientation Gets Much Needed Expansion

Starting new again can be a terrifying and isolating experience for transfer students. That is why starting in June, the Seattle University Center for Orientation and Transition Programs has decided to expand the undergraduate transfer student orientation from three hours to a full day experience to help students have a smoother transition into the Seattle U community.

Sophomore Taylor Johnson transferred to Seattle U last spring from Edmonds Community College. She described her transfer experience as being horrible, especially since it was during spring quarter.

“It’s probably the worst quarter to transfer because it’s the end of the school year, so there’s no involvement fairs, they don’t do a welcome week,” Johnson said. “It’s like hey you move in on March 30th or the day before classes start, and you’re just thrown in there, no introduction, no nothing.”

The Associate Director for Orientation and Transition Programs, Leah Quinn, said that the expansion will allow students to learn more about the opportunities and resources available to them as students at Seattle U.

“Our transfer students get a three hour program largely focused on academic advising,” Quinn said. “They then meet me with a transfer success leaders and participate in icebreakers with their small groups.”

Transfer students also agree that the three hour orientation is not enough.

With the expansion, the Center for Orientation and Transition Programs is hoping to make the experience a little easier. First time freshmen attend a robust two day experience called Summer in Seattle. During this time, the freshman class and their families learn about opportunities Seattle U has to offer such as education abroad and career services. They interact with faculty members and hear about academic and behavioral expectations, while meeting new friends and exploring their campus.

In comparison, the transfer student orientation is considerably less comprehensive. According to Quinn, transfer students currently receive great information about academic planning, but not enough information about how they can be active members of the school community.

There are some additional resources for transfer students on campus that already exist, such as the Reidy Collegium and McGoldrick Collegium, which support transfer students in developing a community and having a space on campus to call a home away from home.
However, an expanded orientation program could further assist transfer students in transition into the Seattle U community.

“We saw students wanting and needing more connection to the university to really feel like this is their home for the next two, three, or four years,” Quinn said.

Junior Yesenia Varela, who transferred from Santa Ana College during the fall of 2015 echoed that same need.

“I felt like I was disconnected with just student life,” Varela said. “One of the hardest things is just finding home here.”

She said that joining clubs allowed her to make new friends, but she is still transitioning.

Johnson pointed out that even though she is a transfer student, she still needed the same exact orientation experience as a freshmen, and the current orientation is not fulfilling that need.

“Transfer students need exactly what incoming freshmen students need,” Johnson said. “I know transfer students that don’t know how to map out their schedules—they need help with that just as much as any other student needs help. Transfer students deserve welcome week stuff just like incoming freshmen get welcome week stuff. Just because you’re a transfer student and you may not be fresh out of high school does not mean you deserve any less than an 18-year-old right out of high school.”

The Center for Orientation and Transition Programs is taking all of this into consideration. They are still working out the finer details, but during orientation transfer students can expect to hear from many on-campus resources such as career services and university recreation. They will be able to engage in their own professional discernment, hear about outdoor opportunities, learn about the fitness center and even choose what other information sessions they want to sit in on.

The expansion will launch this June, allowing fall quarter transfer students to have a more holistic
orientation experience.

“Students will have more of an opportunity to experience SU through the academic opportunity, through the social opportunity, through the cultural opportunities and service opportunities, so they’ll get a better picture of different ways they can become an engaged student here at SU,” Quinn said.

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