In the midst of enrollment decline, Kent State looks for transfer students to fill the gaps

Katie+Kintop%2C+a+junior+marketing+major%2C+transferred+to+Kent+State+from+the+University+of+Akron.

Katie Kintop, a junior marketing major, transferred to Kent State from the University of Akron.

Morgan Hallam

Faced with a declining number of Ohio high school graduates, Kent State is pursuing more transfer students by working with community colleges in the area, creating new scholarships, advertising out of state and offering an orientation program for transfers.

Ohio, which had about 122,000 graduates this year, will have 11 percent fewer by 2031, according to a 2016 report by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

“We’ve become a lot more intentional with our time with transfer students,” said Todd Diacon, the senior vice president for academic affairs and the provost. “We’re starting to work with Cuyahoga Community College to make sure we have an academic adviser on those campuses regularly, so that when (transfer students) come to Kent State, they’ve taken the right courses and they don’t have a delay.”

Incoming transfers this year total about 1,500, down about 500 from 2014. University officials are working to reverse that trend.

One way Kent State is focusing on transfer students is through pre-advising meetings before students are admitted to the university. The meetings are designed to talk to students about how their credits are going to transfer over and what degree path to take.

“We actually sit down one-on-one with students and talk to them about their credits,” said Ted McKown II, the associate director of undergraduate admissions. “We actually do an estimate of how their credits might apply to a degree program.” 

Kent State works closely with community colleges in the area to recruit students after they complete their two-year degree. Most of the colleges are from northeast Ohio, but Kent State also has partnerships with colleges in northwest Pennsylvania, western New York and other schools in Ohio.

McKown and Christine Connors, a senior adviser of transfer initiatives, attend transfer fairs as a way to meet with potential students and talk to them about coming to Kent State.

“We can make sure we have an academic adviser on those campuses regularly so that when they come to Kent State, they’ve taken the right courses and they don’t have a delay,” Diacon said.

Connors works at Lakeland Community College and Lorain County Community College four days a week as a hybrid adviser. She provides information for students and tries to make their transition to Kent State smoother.

The university also implemented two new scholarships specifically for transfer students.

The first is the “Transfer to Kent Scholarship,” which is awarded to transfer students who have zero to 90 transfer hours.

“Depending on what your GPA is, you could recieve anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500 per year, and it’s a renewable scholarship,” McKown said.

The second scholarship offered is “Flash Transfer Northeast Ohio,” which focuses on students who get an associate degree from either Lorain, Lakeland, Cuyahoga, Eastern Gateway or Stark State community colleges.

The scholarship is $2,500 per year and is renewable once. Other stipulations for the scholarship are transfer students have to be on Kent State’s main campus and be enrolled full-time. 

Cuyahoga Community College is the main community college that filters students into Kent State. The main four-year institute students transfer from is the University of Akron.

All students at Kent State are required to attend Destination Kent State as an orientation to campus. Transfer students participate in an orientation called Transfer Kent State.

The event is required for transfer students coming in with freshman status, but the event is open to all transfer students. It serves around 500 students annually.

All transfer students are required to choose from one of the three different workshops offered through the event. The workshops happen throughout the school year just like DKS.

One of the workshops is centered around getting students involved on campus, which is conducted by the Center for Student Involvement.

“Research tells us that transfer students in general, not just Kent, have a hard time connecting to their new university and getting involved,” said Barbara Miller, the assistant director of Student Success Programs.

During the program, students make a Kent State bucket list of things they want to do before they graduate. They also discuss organizations available to students to get involved with, and they have to identify two to three organizations they might join.

The second workshop is led by Career Exploration and Development, which helps students find an on-campus job. The workshop helps them to upload a résumé, along with figuring out what jobs are available on campus and how to go through the process of getting a job or work study.

The third workshop is designed to help transfer students navigate Kent State classrooms.

Miller said many students come from smaller institutions like community colleges or private institutions and may get overwhelmed by the class sizes.

“There’s something called transfer shock when students come from one institution and they just need to figure out how to navigate the university,” Miller said. 

She added many times, GPAs will drop as students try to figure out their new university.

National Transfer Student Week is Oct. 9 to 13. The university will be hosting events to engage with transfer students and celebrate them.

Kent State and other northern Ohio schools are all competing for transfer students because of the decline in high school students. In order to compete with other schools, the university has started the new scholarships and is advertising in different states to attract new students.

For junior marketing major Katie Kintop, her first university was not the right path for her. Kintop started her college career at Akron before transferring to Kent State.

“I did not feel safe on campus,” she said. “There was a lot of crime in the area that was close to downtown.”

Kintop was in the marching band and said she had to walk across campus after late games with only one other girl. She felt scared and feared someone would approach her that late at night. Since transferring, she said she feels safer on campus and loves the university.

“When I was in Akron, I just wanted to go home all the time because I didn’t feel safe, my roommate was always going home and I didn’t like being alone,” Kintop said. “I loved transferring here and seeing how sometimes they have movies on the weekend outside, and they have just events going on all the time. It’s really great. I love it.”

Morgan Hallam is the recruiting and retention reporter. Contact her at [email protected]