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College students transfer for campus life, academics

Anthony Adeniyi, center, a sophomore nursing student who lives in Buford, talks with fellow transfer students and university staff members about course requirements during a meet-and-greet for transfer students held Aug. 27 at the University of North Georgia.

Victoria Buker, a sophomore from Heard County, Ga., majoring in political science, knew when she visited the University of North Georgia (UNG) that she wanted to transfer here.

"I was sold on the academics, but seeing the campus and seeing all the tradition and seeing how much students love it really pushed me into coming here," Buker said. "It's been a whirlwind of a week, but I definitely have established home. This is where I should be — I know it."

Aaliyah Dorsey, left, and Cadet Yung Park, check in at the transfer student meet-
and-greet with Director Janet Marling, PhD. Dorsey transferred to the University
of North Georgia from Pennsylvania and Park previously took classes on UNG's
Gainesville Campus.

Buker, who lives on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, is one of some 2.5 million college students who transfer each year, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. About one-third of all college seniors have transferred to another school at some point during their college career.

Prior to the consolidation of the two schools that created UNG in January 2013, Gainesville State College was the leading feeder school to North Georgia College & State University, averaging about 145 every fall semester for the past four years. Now, many students take core curriculum courses or earn an associate degree at one of four UNG campuses and complete a four-year program at another UNG campus.

"Transfer students, and in UNG's case, transitioning students, add tremendous value to the institution," said Dr. Janet Marling, director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) that is based at UNG. "Research conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center indicates that 60 percent of students transferring from a two-year institution earn a bachelor's degree within four years. That number increases to 70 percent for those students transferring with an associate degree."

One of those transitioning students is Yung Park, who previously took classes on UNG's Gainesville Campus, but came to the Dahlonega Campus to join the Corps of Cadets.

"I like being in the corps. It's like a family," Park said. "I considered other universities, too, but my friends told me about the corps and how the cadets stick together."

The No. 2 feeder school to UNG has been Georgia Perimeter College, with 248 students transferring here in the past four years.

Amanda Stover, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice who transferred from Georgia Perimeter, said she's enjoying campus life.

"I wanted to go to a small school where I could live on campus and just walk to class instead of having to drive from home every day," Stover said. "I like it here. It's really interactive and there's a lot going on."

NISTS sponsored a meet-and-greet for transfer students on the front lawn of the Moore House where the institute is located, offering free lunch and a chance to meet other students. Dozens of students munched on chips and sandwiches with new friends and asked questions about required classes and declaring a major.

"Our transfer students don't often feel inclined to participate in some of the other activities they assume are just for freshmen, so we  like  to give them their own welcome to campus," Marling said. "Everybody assumes that transfer students know how to 'do' college, but they don't always know how to navigate a new campus and a new environment. Transfer students sometimes don't feel comfortable asking questions, because they expect themselves to know what to do."

Anthony Adeniyi, a sophomore nursing student who lives in Buford, said the commute was one of the factors that led him to transfer from Georgia State University in Atlanta to UNG.

"The city was kind of hectic, with a lot of people and crowded. Up here there's a lot of space and I like the mountains," Adeniyi said.

Marling recently completed a new volume for the New Directions for Higher Education series that highlights the need for more study of transfer students. Marling edited the volume "Collegiate Transfer: Navigating the New Normal," and contributed an article. Some of the volume's articles are based on new research; each year, NISTS also sponsors two research studies.

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