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NISTS conference to focus on transfer student trends

Dr. Janet Marling, executive director of National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (center), stands with the 2018 National Transfer Student ambassadors (from left) Luis Veloz, Veronica Sanders, Diana Castro, and Brandon Cheatham.

Of the 2.8 million first-time college students who enrolled in the fall 2011, more than one million transferred to another institution within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. For each of those transfer students, their prior college experience and needs are unique.

"Starting and ending your collegiate career at just one institution is no longer the norm," said Emily Kittrell, assistant director of National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS), which is based on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. "So it’s critically important we provide the best possible services and support to help transfer students meet their educational goals."

As the only national organization solely focused on transfer student success, NISTS will host its annual conference Feb. 13-15 at the InterContinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. More than 500 higher education faculty and staff will attend the conference to share ideas and explore promising practices related to the complex issue of transfer students. Space is still available, and a special rate is offered for professionals at Georgia institutions. Registration is online.

"We want to connect transfer professionals with colleagues from all over the nation who are doing new and interesting things with transfer students that might work on their home campuses, too" Kittrell said.

New to the 2019 conference is the overarching theme "Working together to simplify transfer" including a focus on:

  • Acknowledging that the transfer process is complex and understanding every institution administers the process slightly different. Therefore, the sending and receiving institutions must be on the same page to help transfer students succeed.
  • Involving all departments ranging from student affairs to academic affairs and beyond in the process of connecting students to resources and engaging them academically and socially.

"We want everyone to get involved and talking together," Kittrell said. "It will take people from all areas and levels to understand this issue and come up with holistic and inclusive solutions."

For example, sessions in the "Curricular Alignment or Degree Pathways" track will discuss creating and executing aligned academic curriculum or degree programs that result in improved experiences for students moving between institutions and within academic disciplines. Kittrell explained such programs  help ensure students take the appropriate classes at one institution for a specific major or degree before transitioning to a new institution.

"We don't want students to waste time and money taking classes that won't transfer or count toward their intended degrees," Kittrell said. "Pathways are one way to help them build momentum and get their degree efficiently."

The good news is conference participants are committed to finding those solutions to help transfer students succeed. Sharing those ideas and developing new ones to implement at their home institutions is one goal of the conference.

Another goal is to encourage attendees to act as advocates for transfer students and share what they’ve learned with others at their own colleges and universities.

"This year, we’ll talk about using your 'transfer lenses' to examine how every policy, program, and practice might inadvertently impede transfer student success," Kittrell said. "Once you have those lenses on, every interaction becomes an opportunity to inform your colleagues about transfer success and get them involved."

For more information, visit the NISTS conference website.

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