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NISTS Conference to focus on helping transfers engage new campuses

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The 18th annual NISTS Conference theme is "Reimagining the Transfer Student Experience." The conference will be held Feb. 5-7 in Atlanta.

Research and efforts to aid transfer students have largely focused on the application and enrollment process. Now the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) wants to advance the discussion toward what happens once transfer students arrive on their new campuses.

A major part of that effort will be discussed at the 18th annual NISTS Conference, set for Feb. 5-7 at the Intercontinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta.

The theme for the conference is "Reimagining the Transfer Student Experience," and more than 600 people are expected to attend. Registration is online, and the early rate for presenters and professionals is available through Dec. 6.

"Creating policies and programs that facilitate a smooth transition between institutions is hugely important," said Emily Kittrell, assistant director of NISTS. "But just getting transfer students enrolled isn't enough to guarantee their success. Schools also need holistic and long-term onboarding initiatives to help their transfers acclimate to and engage with the campus communities, both academically and socially."

This process involves providing access to timely and useful information, consistent and personalized support, and affirmation of transfer students' unique experiences and degree aspirations.

Kittrell is grateful the conference includes a mix of professionals from four-year and two-year colleges. She said it is important to have as many voices as possible involved in these discussions, particularly stakeholders on both sides of transfer.

NISTS, which is based on UNG's Dahlonega Campus and is the only national organization solely focused on transfer student success, is partnering with University Innovation Alliance (UIA) Executive Director Bridget Burns for the keynote speech at 9 a.m. Feb. 6. UIA will also help facilitate an action-based plenary session at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 6 where participants will sit at round tables to discuss conference themes and brainstorm how to apply key takeaways on their campuses.

To reflect that transfer success is a shared responsibility, session themes will intentionally blur traditional boundaries between functional areas and across institution types.

Advocacy, equity-minded practice, human-centered design, prior learning assessment, transfer essentials, and transfer success courses are among the topics from presenters from across the country at pre-conference workshops set for 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 5.

"In today's higher ed landscape, student mobility is reality," Kittrell said. "We're excited to give colleges and universities an avenue to explore the complexities of the transfer student experience."

NISTS was founded in 2002 by Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of UNG, in response to a lack of professional development opportunities and research literature focused on transfer students. Through research, education and advocacy, NISTS empowers practitioners, faculty, and administrators to be transfer champions — agents, connectors, and advocates — who challenge the status quo to improve the transfer student experience.

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