Transfer students make up about 30 percent of the undergraduate population at Seattle University—with around 450 transfers per year. However, many students transferring from community colleges and other institutions find tuition a staggering roadblock as costs continue to rise. A new scholarship and program sponsored by Alfie’s Fund—a nonprofit organization—is being introduced to combat the challenge of high costs, as well as add more diversity to Seattle U’s community.
Seattle Government at Seattle U Transfer student representative, Jordan Murakami, transferred to Seattle U in 2014 and feels excited about the new program that will specifically aid incoming transfer students.
“One thing that I think is amazing about the Alfie Scholarship is that it is awarded independent of any other scholarship you receive,” Murakami said. “Financial burden is something students consider when transferring to another institution, so with the scholarship I think that it does lessen the burden, and I think more students will be attracted to it at the end of the day because of the scholarship.”
Officially beginning this fall, the Alfie Scholars Program—named after donor Alfred F. Lustbader—will admit 15 students. These students will receive, on the financial level, a $10,000 annual scholarship, academic support to prepare them for the increased difficulty of studying at a four-year university and special curriculums to develop leadership skills. The scholarship also aims to prepare these students to become leaders in their chosen profession.
According to Carol Cochran, director of the Alfie Scholarship, planning for the new program began in February 2015, with applications becoming available earlier this year.
“Right now we have about 20 applications, which is great,” Cochran said, “Next year, when we have more time to recruit applicants, we hope to have a larger pool.”
Diving deeper into the specifics of the program, its website explains that, “Alfie Scholars will attend, as a cohort, two of their required curriculum courses and one specially designed seminar.”
These courses will be specially designed with academic support and other activities. The Scholars will also attend special programs and events throughout the school year.
Cochran agrees with Murakami that transfer students face large financial barriers when transferring to a new school, but highlighted another important issue that many might not realize.
“It’s not only the economic challenge that transfer students face in terms of the increasing costs of going to a four-year university,” Cochran said. “But also the feeling of isolation of coming into a community where everyone has already had their start.”
Such difficulties will be challenged head-on by the new program. An Alfie Scholar will begin their academic year slightly earlier than the rest in August when they will take a course called The Philosophy of the Person along with their new cohort. Classes are designed to help students adapt more easily to their new campus, establish connections with faculty and build bonds with their fellow cohort members.
During the course of the following year, the scholars will attend a course called Leadership in Fostering Civility, which will, “Serve the dual purpose of providing direct and relevant instruction on leadership and civility theory” according to the Alfie website.
Following their first academic year, the Scholars will then rejoin the rest of the cohort in August 2017 and take a course on ethics, the next requirement in the program. This course is designed to satisfy both the objectives of the Alfie Scholarship as well as the Seattle University Core Curriculum. Students will receive additional instruction to engage more meaningfully with their community.
Senior Priscilla Gamit transferred to Seattle U in 2015 from Green River Community College. If a program like the Alfie Scholarship was available earlier then she would have felt compelled to apply much sooner.
“I put off going to SU, or any university for that matter, after graduating community college because of money and the fact that there weren’t really a lot of scholarships that I qualified for or related to in any way,” Gamit said. “Had the opportunity of a scholarship such as this one specifically designed for transfers presented itself to me, I know I would have taken the chance for it immediately.”
With room to grow, the Alfie Scholarship has poised itself to be a major draw for transfer students looking at attending Seattle U. Already there has been a budding interest and with time it can grow even larger. For the time being, expect to be seeing at least 15 new faces around campus when Fall Quarter comes around.
Scott may be reached at [email protected]