The academic advisory is a great asset to learners while pursuing educational goals and its relevance to transfer students cannot be ignored. To understand its role in relation to the issue of a transfer student, I interviewed an educational advisor from a four-year institution that works with transfer students. According to him, his first duty was to assist the transfer students in deciphering which careers could be suitable for them through engaging them in conversations and other assessment tools (Patton, 2017). He also listed educating the transfer students on the institution’s policies as among his assignments. Further, he said that his job was to conduct orientation sessions for the new students to enable them to acclimatize themselves to the internal environment of the institution. Admittedly, he recognized monitoring of the transfer students’ as one of his main tasks. In ending explanation of his roles in students transfer issue, he said that he was also in charge of informing them of the learning resources. With a clear understanding of his role in student transfer issues, I went ahead to interview him more on them.
Articulation Agreements and Credit Transfer Process
The interview proved to be more useful as the academic advisor expounded on the articulation agreement issues. I asked him about the purpose of articulation agreements to the academic institution in which he served. This is what he had to say, “Articulation agreement is a formal document that fosters strong partnerships and coordination between my institution and community colleges to aid in a smooth transition for transfer student” (Patton, 2017). In explaining the purpose further, he stated that through the document, comparable coursework is identified, therefore enabling degree requirements to be met by the transfer student at their learning institution. To the benefit of the transfer students, the academic advisor said that his university’s articulation agreements detailed all the benefits accorded from one community college to the other (Patton, 2017). In summary, the advisor elaborated on the importance of the articulation agreement both to the transfer student and the four-year institution.
I singled out a benefit that accrued from articulation agreement, such as credit transfer, and sought his explanation on it. He described the process of credit transfer from his institution’s guidelines. First of all, he said that a transfer student needed to check the eligibility criterion for such transfers through some online tools. Next to understanding the number of credit hours to be transferred was the application to the relevant school of the university. On application, he stressed the fact that most applications were made online at no cost. After the application submission, the institution contacted the applicant to communicate with the former college to submit his transcripts to the university. An assessment phase then followed to determine the exact number of credit hours to be transferred. From my viewpoint, I found the institution’s review activity to be slow and inefficient because the advisor told me that the timelines for such scrutiny were within four weeks. At the end of the assessment, the institution communicated the feedback to the student through electronic messaging. As evident, the credits transfer affair is an elaborate one, more so if eligibility criteria are met.
Factors Influencing Student Transfers and Challenges
Moreover, the advisor acknowledged that decision to transfer among students is caused by many factors, of which he mentioned some. One of the reasons he stated as catalysts to student transfers was the existent of adjunct professors who were teaching both at the two-year community colleges and the institution (Patton, 2017). He opined that the teachers had influenced students to initiate such transfers as the learners wanted to minimize potential gaps in learning. Another remarkable reason given by the advisor was the cost benefits of his institution (Patton, 2017). He said that “Many students transfer to our university due to the financial grants, tuition fee waivers, and discounts we grant to top achievers.” Therefore, despite many reasons he gave, all of them narrowed down to the discussed two.
As our interview was progressing, I enquired from the advisor to understand the challenges they faced with regards to students transfer. I posed the question, “What are some of the problems that you have encountered concerning learners transfer, or what are the challenges to transfer students?” He confirmed to me that indeed there existed issues, but the most affected persons were the tutees. From his statements, the transfer students faced social isolation, which when not promptly addressed, culminated in depression (Patton, 2017). On his part as an administrator, he admitted that sometimes he had to contend with belligerent students who were either on drugs or hyperactive. By implication, challenges that transfer students faced cascaded further to the advisors.
Social Aspects of Transferring and Pertinent Issues
In my bid to understand the social facets of transferring, I sought an explanation from the advisor on any endemic support they have accorded transfer students. He again affirmed the institution’s effort to provide the new learners with social assistance. He said that for the initial weeks of a student’s admission, the learner was placed under him to enable him study the tutee’s social behavior before placing him in a group, which fits his character. In fact, this measure was the best gregarious intervention in the transfer process, and the institution often referred to it as an interpersonal relationships development (Patton, 2017). From the initiative, it can be deduced that the institution adopted a collaborative student learning approach to students transfer.
At last, we ended the interview by exploring the pertinent issues to academics. He listed health and wellbeing, academic management, technological advancements, and internal politics. From his list, I picked health and wellbeing because I deemed it to be of great importance to him, given its first position among the issues related to education (Patton, 2017). He told me that the previous researches that they conducted showed that many students and professors suffered stress, a fact attributed to either social media, being overscheduled, or the impact of high-stakes testing. In addition, according to him, that was the reason why the school invested heavily in social intervention programs. Therefore, the health and wellbeing of the students and other staff were prioritized because of the prevalence of mental health-related problems within the country.
In as much as the interview was important in understanding the student transfer issue; it had its share of flaws. For instance, the academic advisor said that “From the process of application of credit transfers to review takes approximately four weeks.” To me, this is inefficiency on the part of the institution, however much the process is elaborate. This is because many institutions were taking less than five working days to process the same. In addition, the institution is skewed towards social intervention programs at the expense of other pertinent issues to academics. In my understanding of the goals of academics, educational institutions need to foster both the cultural, social, and economic developments of the community. Nevertheless, the interview helped me in gaining insights into student transfers.
Patton, C. (2017). Seamless transfers. Journal of College Admission, 234, 28-32.