EDITORIAL: Transfer students need more focus and support

They’re not new to college, but they’re new to Sac State


Infograph by Margherita Beale and Cory Jaynes - The State Hornet

Sacramento State, it’s time we stop treating transfer students like the forgotten stepchildren of the Hornet family.

This fall, Sac State enrolled 3,507 first-time transfer students and 3,757 first-time freshmen, but the majority of its welcoming programming is geared towards freshmen.

During orientation, incoming freshmen have the opportunity to go to go to F.R.O.S.H. night — short for First Year Rockin’ Out Shindig Hoopla — a program that lets students go to the campus ropes course, aquatic center or The WELL and then sleep over at the dorms. Freshman orientation consists of two whole days of campus tours, getting familiar with university programming and course schedule planning.

RELATED: Transfer and freshman first-year experiences differ — here’s how

For transfers, orientation consists of a presentation from the head of the department for each student’s respective major, followed by registering for classes online with “assistance” from under-trained students — a task that could be finished at home for students who have to drive hours or pay for a flight to make it for a one day event.

A freshman peer mentor told The State Hornet that there are roughly 60 freshman peer mentors and 20 transfer peer mentors. There’s an entire space on the first floor of the library geared towards guiding freshmen to success.

Freshmen are required to complete academic advising during both their first and second semesters before they can register for the next semester’s classes. No advising beyond major advising is required for transfer students.

Though the transition between high school and college is a big one, and should not be minimized, for some, the transition between community college and Sac State is just as big.

Transfer students face nearly all the same hurdles as freshmen: a new campus, being surrounded by unfamiliar faces and a brand new way to organize classes. Even if a student grew up in Sacramento and transferred in from an area community college, the CSU system is set up quite a bit differently than the community college program.

There are some things Sac State could do to ease this pain, though. Rumors of a designated space for transfer students have made their way around campus and was even confirmed by President Nelsen in a meeting with The State Hornet. But the campus community, and more importantly, transfer students who may be looking for help have not been notified.

Transfer student orientation should absolutely have more expansive programming — it currently covers basics that students can figure out on their own, but lacks opportunity for those students to ask questions specific to their individual situations and backgrounds.

Sac State should survey transfer students, asking what they most struggle with during the transition, and seek to offer solutions when a transfer student center opens, or sooner. More transfer peer mentors, and a streamlined way to connect those mentors to the students who need them, are an immediate priority.  

Transfer students make up a huge percentage of our student population, but often get overlooked. Their time at this university is shorter, but it still matters and will shape their lives forever.

It’s time for Sac State to ensure that the transfer student experience is just as cared for as the freshmen experience.