Transfer Student Organization fosters community, support

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Photo by Zach Bukowski

The organization’s first official meeting will be Jan. 30 at 7 P.M.

When Liz Trump, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, transferred to Marquette last spring, she had a difficult time adjusting.

“It was really a very difficult process because I was used to being an independent student … and showing up to class and going directly home, so transferring into this environment where we’re meant to really be more of a community was a challenge for me,” she said.

After meeting other transfer students, Trump learned that her difficult adjustment experience was not unique. She recognized a need for a community for transfer students and worked with other students and staff to establish the Transfer Student Organization, of which she is president.

Trump transferred to Marquette from College of Lake County, a community college in Grayslake, Illinois.

She said because she transferred in the middle of an academic year, there were even fewer welcome opportunities for new first-year and transfer students to learn about the university. Additionally, Trump said she worked about 20 hours a week and did not have much time to get involved in clubs and activities outside of class, making it especially difficult to find people to connect to.

“I’m an older student,” Trump said. “I’ve always lived in an apartment by myself, so I never had that kind of bonding experience that you have moving as a freshman up through the ranks, and that’s how you kind of get to know students, how you get to know professors, you all kind of see each other over and over again.”

Trump said the Transfer Student Organization aims to provide a community and support system for transfer students who are not as comfortable and familiar with the university as those who began attending as freshmen. Even if students are not regular, active members of the organization, Trump said they want the organization to establish familiar faces so transfer students do not need to feel alone during a time that can be lonely and difficult.

“We want to be able to make this transition to Marquette as light and enjoyable as possible in order to set these students up for success,” Trump said.

Trump said her most helpful resource during her own transfer experience was the transfer counselor at the time, Laura Schram. Trump came to Schram for help with establishing the Transfer Student Organization and asked her to be the faculty adviser.

Now director of student success and recruitment in the College of Communication, Schram was previously the transfer student admissions counselor. She attended college fairs at community colleges to recruit students earning their two-year associates degree to transfer to get their bachelors at Marquette. Schram first met Trump while visiting College of Lake County, which she said is the top feeder community college into Marquette.

A former transfer student to Marquette herself, Schram said she loves the opportunity to help transfer students adjust and find their fit at Marquette. She said that while the university is improving its initiatives to integrate transfer students, there is more that can be done.

“I think there needs to be more resources, and I think Marquette is doing a great job,” Schram said. “It’s a little slower maybe than what we could be doing, but definitely I think transfer students flourish here. They just sometimes need a little bit (of) extra resources to fully take advantage of everything.”

Trump said she initially sought to establish a transfer student ambassador program, where students that transferred to the university could be hired to act as a mentor and guide for incoming transfer students. Universities across the country have similar programs in place, she said.

However, Trump said she learned that a transfer student ambassador program would be university-run. It is currently a concept the university is considering to implement, but Trump decided to create a student-run program for transfer students, by transfer students.

Meghan Werner, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and vice president of the Transfer Student Organization, was in a class with Trump during Trump’s first semester. Werner had transferred to Marquette the previous semester, in the fall of 2018.

Werner came to Marquette from Indiana University-Bloomington, a four-year university with a total enrollment of 43,503 students in 2019. She said coming to Marquette, where, according to Marquette’s website, the total enrollment number in 2018 was 11,605, reminded her a little of high school.

Werner said she and Trump shared many frustrations with the transfer process: Werner said it was difficult to be in core classes that other students her age did not have to take or had already taken, and Trump said she did not know what D2L, the platform the university utilizes for professors to share course content, was until a graduate student explained it to her.

Additionally, the team of admissions faculty in charge of transfer students is not very extensive, Werner said. There is one transfer student admission counselor – previously Schram, now Fr. Malik Farr – an assistant director of transfer admissions, Margo Leone, and an undergraduate student transfer adviser, Florie Greenhill. Werner said there are not many admissions resources for the large number of transfer students, so it can take some time before students get their questions answered.

“When you transfer here, you get a basic adviser, but they basically just tell you how to sign up for your classes, but then they don’t go over things like how to transfer from your old school … and a lot of times based on the titles of your old school’s classes, they don’t transfer and so then you have to go talk to the dean,” Werner said.

Werner said students do not receive enough advice on how to then speak with the dean and ensure that classes transfer. She said everything can seem very intimidating, and so members of the Transfer Student Organization want to help answer common questions.

The organization’s first official meeting will be Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in room R221 of Raynor Library, with subsequent meetings the final Thursday of every month.

Trump said the meetings will consist of informational panels, providing transfer students with information that other transfer students wished had been made more easily available to them when they first came to Marquette. Some topics covered will be bus routes, safety tips and housing options. Additionally, the organization plans to organize study sessions for midterms and finals.

Werner said the Transfer Student Organization will put out a newsletter on the first Monday of every month.

This story was written by Kelli Arseneau. She can be reached at kelli.arseneau@marquette.edu.