Universities have typically overlooked the unique needs of transfer students; however, as more students are beginning at two-year colleges, the transfer population is increasing and so is the need for transfer-specific services.
More than 1,100 Texas educators and administrators illustrated their commitment to improved services for transfer students at the Texas Transfer Success Conference in May. The conference, which was sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, was the first statewide event of this scale to focus specifically on transfer issues.
A key component of the conference, which was designed by the UNT's National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students and the UNT Center for Higher Education, was sharing practices that are already making differences in the lives of transfer students across the state.
More than 30 STEP (Successful Transfer Enhancement Program) Awards, which were designed to recognize these exemplary programs, were distributed during the conference. Some of the most notable award winners included UNT's bachelors of arts program in information technology, The Comet Connection program at the University of Texas at Dallas and the Transfer Student Scholarship at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
"The awards and the nominations we received are evidence that there's real commitment to transfer success across Texas. We want more institutions and students to benefit from these innovations, so we intended to more fully describe them all in a publication we'll distribute across Texas and the nation," says Marc Cutright, director of the UNT Center for Higher Education.
The Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology (BAIT) program at UNT is an innovative undergraduate program in information technology. The program, the only IT degree program in a college of engineering offered in Texas, is firmly based on core computer science and engineering curricula, but requires students to minor in a different discipline, such as:
- political science
- health care
- computational materials.
The program also requires students complete a capstone project that demonstrates IT solutions that are applicable to their chosen minor.
According to Krishna Kavi, chair of UNT's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the program is designed to maximize the curricular alignment between two-year and four-year colleges, to encourage more two-year college students to finish their IT degree at a four-year college.
"There were several people involved in the development of the curriculum, including members of computer science and engineering, Industrial Advisory Council, myself and the Undergraduate Studies Committee. We are very proud of this one-of-a-kind program," Kavi says.
The Comet Connection program at the UT Dallas is designed to cultivate a relationship with students who begin at a community college and plan to transfer to UT Dallas. The university has signed agreements with all 52 two-year colleges in Texas, which allows potential transfer students to become acquainted with the many services available to UT Dallas students, such as advising, financial aid and UT Dallas library access.
The Transfer Student Scholarship program at the UH-Clear Lake seeks to remove the barriers that often prevent transfer students from receiving the necessary financial aid. Many scholarships require that students be full time, have a high grade point average and are non-renewable. The Automatic Transfer Student (ATS) Scholarship is designed specifically for transfer students and is automatically applied and renewed.
Alyssa Aber with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.firstname.lastname@example.org.