Transfer Talk Tuesdays aim to reach often overlooked students

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The Office of Academic Advising is holding virtual events for incoming transfer students to learn more about SIUE. Although the events have undergone some changes, they will continue to be available every Tuesday this month.

During the talks, representatives of different departments or programs at SIUE present information to transfer students after a short introduction from the talks’ mastermind, Assistant Director of Academic Advising Kelly Atkins.

Atkins said she works primarily with transfer students, which helped her learn what some of these students need help with while transferring.

“In working with transfer students, [the transfer students and I] identified some of the gaps that are there within the university, and ways that we could make things better for our transfer students as they transition into the university,” Atkins said. 

Darien Wilson, a graduate student in higher education administration from Chicago, is Atkins’s graduate assistant and helps run Transfer Talk Tuesdays. Wilson said many transfer students feel as though the university doesn’t notice them.

“It’s important that every student has access to what they want to know about whatever college they’re attending,” Wilson said. “I believe these students feel like they’re invisible sometimes.”

Atkins also said transfer students are often overlooked, unlike college freshmen. According to Atkins, this is a big focus of Academic Advising’s work with transfer students, as well as a personal focus of her own work.

“One of the things that I thought about was how incoming freshmen have their orientation, and their matriculation into the university, where they’re given all of this information up front about the resources that the university has and all of that,” Atkins said. “But, none of that is really done for our transfer students. We have a transfer orientation, which is not mandatory … and so I was just thinking, ‘How can we provide this information to transfer students in real time?’”

The current iteration of Transfer Talk Tuesdays is not the first, however. Wilson said originally, the talks were not confined into every Tuesday in one month, but actually the first Tuesday of every month.

“With things being online, and as I know as a student, Zoom fatigue is real, as well as the struggle to balance things and remember when things are happening,” Wilson said. “Having it so spread out was a little problematic for students. We feel it’s important that they attend, so we consolidated it so it’s more back to back to back, and we get it all in in one month.”

Atkins said with the talks spread out across so many months, interest from transfer students attending seemed to decline as well.

“I saw that the attendance sort of began to faint closer to the end of the semester,” Atkins said. “So, this semester we decided to do sort of like a Transfer Talk Tuesday month, where every Tuesday in the month of February, we’re giving them this information.”

According to Atkins, in order to make sure these talks focus on what students want to hear, Wilson created a survey for transfer students to fill out during the talks. Atkins also said Wilson helps advertise the talks.

“He has sort of been my foot soldier, if you will, in the advertising of the program,” Atkins said. “[He also] attends each Transfer Talk Tuesday, to sort of track attendance. He has also created an assessment to sort of ask students, after they’ve attended, what are their feelings on the program, what should we do more or less of, just to collect that information so we’re better going forward.”

Other graduate students from different departments have also offered help, including Jessica Fulling, a graduate student in college student personal administration from Bloomington, Illinois. Fulling said she is a graduate assistant in admissions, but she offered her help to Atkins.

“I found out about the program because I’m part of a committee that helps transfer students, and I was one when I came to SIUE, so I spoke to Kelly [Atkins] to see how I could help. [Helping transfer students is] a huge interest of mine,” Fulling said. 

Since Fulling usually works from a different department, she said she knows what transfer students are told by each different department.

“I help a bit with marketing and I attend each session as well,” Fulling said. “Since I’ve worked with orientation and admissions as well, there may be some overlap with the students we’re servicing. So, I make sure we don’t cover the same thing twice.” 

Atkins said there are still two more upcoming talks, with plenty of useful information for transfer students.

“Next week, we have Academic Advising. They’ll come in and discuss scheduling an appointment with your adviser, how to use Degree Works, how to use CougarNet, Starfish. Just those different student information systems that we all use at the university,” Atkins said. “And then, our last Tuesday of the month is Learning Support Services, and so that includes tutoring services, the Writing Center, supplemental instruction and all those resources for helping students in the classroom.”

For more information, see the Office of Academic Advising’s website.

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