It might be widely accepted that the transition of moving into college as a freshman and meeting new people is part and parcel of the college experience. But making that transition twice can be more of a challenge.
That is why Terry Kelley-Wallace is heading the new Transfer Student Initiatives Office, which was created prior to the start of the fall 2010 semester, to help transfer students transition into the Binghamton University community.
Kelley-Wallace, who previously served as the University’s Registrar, described the office’s goals as providing services to transfer students and helping to better integrate them into life at BU.
“We’re here to help transfer students make connections at the University, from other students to faculty and staff, so that they feel like a part of the campus community,” Kelley-Wallace said.
According to Kelley-Wallace, the office reaches out to transfers in various ways, including a monthly newsletter distributed via e-mail, monthly transfer student coffee hours and biweekly informal lunches, at which transfer students can meet one another and ask questions.
The Transfer Student Initiatives Office is also working with Tau Sigma, the transfer student honor society, on its initiative to start a transfer mentor program for non-residential students. Mentor programs for on-campus transfer students are already in place.
Another plan that Kelley-Wallace hopes to implement is designated transfer student floors in the residential communities. A pilot of the program will be tested next year on a floor in College-in-the-Woods and will be expanded if it is found to be successful.
The creation of the Transfer Student Initiatives Office was a result of recommendations made by a committee within the Student Affairs department while looking to solve undergraduate issues. The committee determined that the University would benefit from an office for transfers because, according to Kelley-Wallace, nearly one-third of all undergraduate students are transfers.
Kelley-Wallace, having been a transfer student herself, has always been sympathetic to the plight of transfer students, and thus was chosen for the new position of director of the office.
“I was a transfer student myself from BCC [Broome Community College] and also a non-residential student, so my experience at Binghamton was very one-dimensional,” Kelley-Wallace said. “I came to school, went to classes and went home. It wasn’t the happiest experience, and I wish there was an office like this back then.”
According to statistics gathered by tracking e-mail, telephone and in-person contact during the fall semester, the office saw a dramatic increase in transfer students’ use of its resources.
Dominic Bianco, a sophomore majoring in accounting, visited the office after transferring to BU from Stony Brook University last semester.
“I went to the office because I was having trouble getting involved on campus and was having trouble with my housing assignment,” Bianco said.
Kelley-Wallace helped Bianco with resources available on campus like tutoring in the College-in-the-Woods Library. She also directed him to whom he needed to speak with about the housing issue, and the problem was resolved.
“At first I was a little overwhelmed when I got to campus and speaking to Terry definitely made me feel a little more comfortable,” Bianco said.
The establishment of the new office, though conceived of independently, coincides with SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s plan to make the transfer process between SUNY schools simpler.
“I think that overall the chancellor wants the transition to be as seamless as it is for freshmen, and we’re working on that,” Kelley-Wallace said.
Kelley-Wallace hopes that she will continue to hear from transfer students during this semester and on. She is confident that her office will be able to address the concerns of transfer students and provide them with the services they need.
“Ultimately I hope that the efforts of this office will help more students stay at Binghamton so they can get their degree and follow their dreams, and not find it as difficult as I did when I came.”
The Transfer Student Initiatives Offices is located in room 109 in the College-in-the-Woods Library and is open to all transfer students.