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Getting to CLASS right on time

The College welcomes mid-year transfer students at start of spring semester

Transfer Orientation Session

Late summer is the traditional back-to-school shopping season. Retailers, however, may be missing an opportunity to sell college essentials to students who enroll after the winter holidays.

The number of students enrolling in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in January has steadily increased over the years.

“Students who are beginning classes in January can sometimes lack a sense of belonging, but we want to assure them that they are not a late-comer,” said Amy Ramirez, Academic Advisor for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “They got here when they were supposed to be here.”

As the Spring 2013 semester kicked off, a total of 1,184 new CLASS students began classes for the first time on January 14. That’s about a third of the size of the new freshman CLASS in the College for the Fall 2012 semester.

Of the total number of mid-year transfers, 19 are true freshmen enrolling in their very first semester ever of college and 32 are international students transferring for a semester abroad or making a permanent switch.

The remaining 1,133 individuals are U.S. resident transfer students coming from community colleges, junior colleges and other four-year universities.

Students transfer in the middle of an academic year for a variety of reasons, Ramirez said. Some believe that attending community college first saves them money. Others may have missed a fall application deadline or decided to attend community college first to take their basic classes. Finally, some students are mid-year transfers because the four-year college or university they began attending either didn’t have the specific program they were interested in, or the campus just wasn’t a fit for their needs.

Because such a large number of students enter CLASS from other institutions, a program is in place to make the transition easier for those students.

The university partners with local community colleges to place academic advisors on-site at the community college. That allows the advisors to work with students early in the transfer process to make sure they take the proper classes and file the correct paperwork.

“This program is nice because the students see the same individual both at their community college and at UH,” said Ramirez. “The students will see a familiar face as they transition.”

One of the biggest challenges for mid-year transfer students is confirming that all the credits they earned during courses completed at their previous school in December are accounted for by the time they start taking their UH classes – especially if the initial class was a prerequisite for a class they are taking at UH.

“That can be frustrating for transfer students because any postponement has a ripple effect and can delay graduation goals,” said Ramirez. “But we have a system in place to streamline that process and make it efficient.”

Ashley Davis, a Liberal Arts major, knows the frustration of not having assistance to keep up with all the details involved with changing colleges. She transferred as a junior into CLASS from Xavier University in Louisiana for financial reasons and to be closer to her family home in Houston.

“I missed a deadline and had to delay beginning my classes until this January,” said Davis. “But I feel like I had more time to prepare to transition to UH. I’d tell future transfer students to stay on top of their forms and paperwork.”

Another tool utilized to help students transition to CLASS is called the “O-Team.” The Orientation Team consists of highly motivated students who know a lot about the campus and are excited to share their pride in the university with incoming students.

One member of the O-Team is junior Jaquelyn Moody, a sociology student who came to UH as a freshman in August 2011. The orientation leader she had as a new student to UH inspired her to offer the same warm welcome to students entering UH after her.

“Many students are overwhelmed by the immense size and layout of this campus,” Moody said. “I advise each and every incoming student to come to campus the weekend before classes start and just get lost!”

No matter how a student comes to CLASS, the faculty, staff and other students work hard to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.

“We want to be sure these students can hit the ground running,” said Ramirez.

- By Monica Byars