New office aims to help transfer studentsTweet
Terry Kelley-Wallace understands the challenges that transfer students face when they arrive at Binghamton University.
“I was a transfer student here years ago from Broome Community College,” she said. “I was also a non-residential student. It can be hard to meet people and make friends. It can also be difficult to find your way around campus.”
Kelley-Wallace, the former University registrar, is now directing the new Transfer Student Initiatives and Services Office. Located in the CIW Library (Room 109), the office will work to ensure a more seamless transition for transfer students by offering them information, advice, advocacy and programming such as social events, lunches and coffee hours.
Transfer students make up nearly one third of all undergraduate students on campus, with most coming from Broome, Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland, Onondaga and Tompkins Cortland community colleges. The University brought in a record 1,000 transfer students last fall.
“I think transfers are so important because they are a unique group,” Kelley-Wallace said. “They are a group of students that comes in many different variations. There are transfer students who are freshmen who come after a semester at another school. There are transfers with associate degrees coming in as juniors. And we have non-traditional transfer students who are older or who have children – not your average 18-22-year-old.
“They bring a lot to campus in terms of diversity and life experience. They have so much to contribute to the campus community.”
But those transfer students need to feel a part of the University as soon as possible, Kelley-Wallace said, so they are able to make connections and be informed.
“We encourage transfer students to make this office their first point of contact so we can get them the resources they need,” she said.
Transfer students were first told about the office, which opened last fall, in an e-mail before coming to school. Kelley-Wallace also spoke about the office during transfer-student orientation. During the school year, all returning and new transfer students receive a monthly newsletter from the office, while a “Students in Transition” course is offered in both fall and spring. Kelley-Wallace is teaching one section of the 2-credit course.
“It’s very exciting for me,” she said. “I loved being registrar, but I think my strength truly lies in working closely with students. I enjoy it and am passionate about it. I also like to help people and see people succeed. My goal and mission here is to help transfer students succeed and complete their degrees so that they can fulfill their dreams.”
Other priorities for Kelley-Wallace include working with Newing College Faculty Master William Ziegler to develop a transfer student-mentor program, while starting a similar mentor program for non-residential transfer students. Dozens of students have already offered to serve as mentors, Kelley-Wallace said.
“To be willing to take some valuable free time to help other transfer students is admirable,” she said. “We were thrilled with the response. … I think it’s a huge step because non-residential students have a lot more challenges than those students on campus who are in the midst of everything.”
Kelley-Wallace praised the work of her office staff – interns from the Binghamton Scholars Program and the Department of Human Development who do everything from writing for the newsletter to setting up social events to attending lunches with the transfer students.
“They do a lot of different things for me and they get the experience of what it is like to work in a student services office,” Kelley-Wallace said. “They are really bright and help a lot.”
The success of the office will be measured both short-term and long-term, Kelley-Wallace said.
“Initially, it’s important to me see the contact we have in person, by phone and e-mail,” she said. “That will help me see if more students are hearing about (the office) and contacting us for assistance. But over time, if we see an increase in retention and graduation rates for transfers, that will show that the program has been successful, too.”