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Events aim to ease transition for transfer students

Isabella Michel transferred to UNG and has helped numerous transfer students during her time at UNG.

Some students transfer from another school to the University of North Georgia (UNG). Others transfer from one of UNG's five campuses to another UNG campus. Whether they come from an outside institution or a different campus, transfer students face unique sets of challenges.

"They can get overlooked. Our goal is to be the front line so they know we are there for them as a resource," said Chantelle Tickles, assistant director of Orientation and Transition Programs. "We are an advocate for them. We want to help them persist on campus and make a difference."

A major front in those efforts is National Transfer Student Week, set for Oct. 21-25 this year, which the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) has advertised nationwide since 2017. NISTS, founded in 2002 by UNG President Bonita Jacobs, is based on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

According to the latest figures available from the National Student Clearinghouse — for the fall 2011 cohort of first-time freshmen — more than a million students from that group transferred within six years. That accounts for 38 percent of that cohort.

"The transfer student population is incredibly diverse, in terms of demographics and transfer experiences," said Emily Kittrell, assistant director of NISTS. "National Transfer Student Week allows us to spotlight students' unique stories and bring attention to the complexities inherent to the transfer transition."

That's why the theme for this year is "Celebrate Your Transfer Story." Isabella Michel, a senior pursuing a degree in human services delivery and administration, can identify with that theme. The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native attended Valdosta State University before her transfer to UNG. She is one of 860 current UNG students who transferred in from another school.

When she first arrived at UNG, she waited for opportunities to come her way. But once she actively sought involvement in campus life, Michel began work as an orientation leader. And as a student assistant working on transfer student initiatives, she helped shepherd a mentor program that pairs transfers with another student who has been at UNG.

"Everyone has their own transfer story," Michel said. "Being able to share that story gives them a voice."

One of the signature events UNG staff members are organizing is a "Transfer Shock" workshop for each campus. Designed in partnership with Student Counseling, these workshops will help students deal with the emotions and other challenges faced by transfers, Tickles said. For a full list of events at UNG, visit the Orientation and Transition Programs website.

Another new aspect at UNG this year is the Transfer Champion Award, which will be awarded on each campus to a faculty or staff member who has made great efforts to assist transfer students.

Much of the purpose of National Transfer Student Week is providing information to transfer students about resources available to them at UNG.

"It gives them recognition there is a place they can come to," said Rachael Williams, coordinator of transfer and transition programs.

Michaela Climer, coordinator of orientation and transfer programs, said the best way to help transfer students is to engage them.

"We do so much for traditional-age new freshmen. It's super important to help our transfer students feel an affinity for the institution," Climer said. "The way to do that is to provide services and support that are geared toward them."

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