Life rarely moves in a straight line.
We start. We stop. We fall back. We run in place. We sprint ahead. And somehow, some way, someday … we get where we wanted to go.
We transfer in and out of phases. That’s life – including college life.
For some, that circuitous route can offer fortitude once the path is discovered. Just ask a UNLV transfer student.
“There is a level of commitment with transfer students because they’ve had that gap. They’ve been out in the world, they’ve had that experience, they’ve had a life, and may be raising kids,” says Anam Qadir, associate director of the UNLV/CSN Transfer Program. “They decide, ‘This (getting a degree) is what I want to do right now, there is nothing that is going to get in my way.’ There is a commitment of, ‘I’m ready for this because this is what I need to do to make my life better.’”
That attitude is worthy of celebration, which is the purpose of National Student Transfer Week, Oct. 17-21, to raise awareness of, and strengthen the commitment to, this university population.
Le Quanda Cole, director of the UNLV/CSN Transfer Program, says that 1,936 transfer students enrolled this fall. Of them, 947 came from CSN, 166 from other Nevada institutions, and 823 from out of state.
The pipeline from community college to bachelor’s degree is difficult to navigate without support, Cole notes. That's where her programs come into play.
“We do our part to make sure all transfers are connected to the appropriate department,” Cole explains. “We want to be more intentional about addressing those students before they get here. The reason is because, nationally, 80 percent of community college students say, ‘Hey, I am intending to transfer to a four-year institution,’ but only 25 to 30 percent make it over. We’re making sure to play a greater role in relation to transfer.”
Qadir and Cole say that once students transfer, they typically graduate at a higher rate than other students, and the university has to show a commitment to serving their unique needs.
“We have become proactive in acknowledging our transfer students, especially since they are comprised of underrepresented and marginalized groups that should have had more attention from the beginning,” Cole says, adding that they vary demographically in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity, military experience, international backgrounds, and also there's “nontraditional” students – often consisting of older adults returning to college after time away. “We understand the importance of adjustments within a system that wasn’t initially designed with those students in mind.”
Toward that end – and with the assistance of the Rebel Transfer Student Organization (RTSO), of which Qadir is a co-advisor – the UNLV office is enhancing transfer support infrastructure in multiple ways, such as:
- Meeting with students before they transition to assist with the calculus for transfer credits. With the aid of the Transferology.com, advisors help students determine not only what credits will transfer, but how to maximize those that can apply toward a particular degree program
- Providing advice on how to integrate into the UNLV culture (including handling what’s called “transfer shock”)
- Investing in more online and evening education programs
- Offering resources and advising to help students creating course schedules that fit around family and work commitments
- Facilitating opportunities for experience-sharing, which is perhaps the most important of all, Qadir says.
“Our goal with the RTSO was to provide a space where students can share their experiences, and for us as staff (to learn) what they need to be successful,” Qadir says. “We host quite a few events for transfer students through the RTSO. We recently had our Game Board event, and it was so nice to see students come together and talk about their experiences. We had students who transferred a couple of years ago, and students who are transferring now.”
Several of those students describe their transfer experiences as positive.
RTSO Vice President Leah Sayson, 21, is a senior majoring in kinesiology andoriginally from the Bay Area. She remembers her biggest concern before transferring from CSN in 2021 was connecting to the right resources. As an out-of-state and first-generation student, Sayson feared she wouldn’t get the correct information because she did not know who to go to and how colleges worked exactly. However, with the help of her advisors, she was able to overcome this fear.
“A lot of the advisors here are really nice and welcoming. I went to orientation, and they told me the nooks and crannies of UNLV, like, 'Oh, you should go here!' or 'You should park here!' A little advice here and there really helped me. At CSN, there’s not a lot of school spirit, but here they’re like 'UNLV! UNLV! UNLV!' It’s like a home away from home. You can learn to love this place — it’s not something scary anymore.”
RTSO president and pre-med student Abbie Boron, a senior and 2021 out-of-state transfer from the University of San Diego, was initially concerned about whether transferring would damage her quest to gain admission to medical school, given a common misconception about how admissions offices view transfer students.
“I didn’t want to retake biology or chemistry or any of those really difficult classes I had already taken. Originally, my freshman biology seminar wasn’t going to transfer, but [UNLV has] an appeal process, and it was pretty easy to get it classified as biology. That was really good,” says Boron, 21, a Las Vegas native who now majors in psychology.
An added bonus was that UNLV offered access to Transferology.com, from which she learned that several classes she had taken at San Diego were not offered by UNLV but would be counted as electives, so she didn’t have to sacrifice any credits.
“I really like the culture at UNLV,” Boron ways. “One of the reasons I transferred was I didn’t find a lot of the faculty and staff at my old school to be accommodating, and it didn’t seem like they were rooting for their students a lot of the time. But at UNLV I’ve had a completely different experience. I love almost all of my teachers, they have been way more helpful.”
Majoring in comprehensive medical imaging, 22-year-old Karina Gonzalez, a transfer from CSN in 2020, says that she felt included and accepted by UNLV. “My intention always was to transfer to UNLV,” says Gonzalez, a senior and RTSO treasurer. “I had actually met with a counselor at UNLV prior to transferring to UNLV. She reassured me that all of my credits would transfer over. They really made you feel like a part of UNLV.”
That, ultimately, is the entire point. As the classic musical “Oliver” put it about helping an outsider transfer into a new world:
“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself one of the family.” The Rebel family.
UNLV Transfer Student Stats
- Transfer students represented all 50 states and 49 countries
- Average age of transfer students: 25
- Majority of transfer students are female (61 percent)
- Majority of transfer students are from minority backgrounds (nearly 60 percent)
- Average GPA of a transfer student in 2021: 3.31 (admission requirement is 2.5)