University’s Commitment to Transfer Students Pays Off

Students walk to class on the University of Central Florida campus. (iStock)

Transfer students are an important part of the University of Central Florida.

In fact, in recent years, the institution has welcomed more transfer students in its incoming class than first-year freshmen — and in the process has created what some consider a national model of excellence while increasing access for underrepresented students.

“We’ve always been concerned with the success of every student, but as our numbers started to increase with transfer students, we really started to focus heavily on how we could work with our transfer population to make them as successful as possible,” said Jennifer Sumner, a UCF administrator.

Sumner oversees DirectConnect to UCF — an initiative created in 2005 that offers guaranteed admission to grads from six partnering two-year institutions. Roughly half of UCF’s transfer students enter the university through the program, which provides additional advising and support for DirectConnect students.

Curriculum is aligned and students receive assistance navigating other hurdles, such as balancing work and family responsibilities. The program, featured in the latest edition of The Journal of College Admission, has been recognized for its efficacy by the University Innovation Alliance, a national coalition of public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of US college grads.

Cierra Cadore, who transferred into UCF through the program, credits her DirectConnect coordinator with easing her transition into one of the nation’s largest universities.

“She laid out everything I had to do—all I had to do was check off my list and make sure I had all my paperwork done,” said Cadore, who transferred to UCF after completing her associate degree at Eastern Florida State College. “She gave me real, live feedback about the College of Business. I knew what classes to take starting out to help me get acclimated to the program and to UCF.”

Once on campus, UCF ensures support continues for transfer students. The university’s offerings aimed at transfers include peer mentoring, special scholarships, a transfer student organization, a targeted academic support program, and Tau Sigma — an honor society for transfer students.

The result? An environment where transfers feel they belong, said Megan O’Reilly.

O’Reilly, who is set to graduate with a health sciences degree next fall, originally felt a little lost upon transferring from Concord University (WV) to UCF two years ago. But the new school offered new opportunities and support — the perfect place for her to reimagine her future.

“When I was in high school all I cared about was being an athlete, so my grades were horrible,” said O’Reilly, who attended her first year of college on an athletic scholarship. At UCF, she carved a new identity for herself, a transition she in part credits to an invitation to join the college’s honor society for transfer students. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience.

“I felt like an outsider until I got the opportunity in Tau Sigma,” said O’Reilly, who now serves as the honor society’s president. “That made me really proud to be a transfer student.”

UCF’s commitment to diversity and inclusion also support the institution’s transfer mission, said Rodnicka Pierre-Jerome, a communication sciences and disorders student who serves as a transfer peer mentor at UCF. Nearly half of all UCF students are minorities and the school has worked to increase diversity among its faculty and staff.

Many of the peer mentors who assist transfer applicants are students of color — a factor Pierre-Jerome says makes it easier for incoming students to picture themselves at the institution.

“When people see people who look like them and who have been successful in their transfer process, it kind of gives them a view of their future as well,” said Pierre-Jerome, who is African-American. “I’ve had students tell me that, which shows you just how important it is.”

Read more about UCF’s transfer program in the fall edition of The Journal of College Admission.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at 

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