A look into transfer students’ experiences

Jenna Evan (right), a junior early childhood education major, and Jaime Sammons, a sophomore integrated langauge arts major, pose for a picture before Kent State’s Homecoming football game Oct. 14.

Devon Recktenwald

Finding the right university can be difficult.

While some students fall in love with a school seconds after stepping onto campus, others require time, information and numerous tours to make a decision. Sometimes, even after spending hours researching, the school someone decides on may be a poor fit. Kent State sees a number of transfer students either coming to the university from a different place or leaving Kent State for another school.

These transfer students all have different reasons behind making the move to or away from Kent State.

Jenna Evan, a junior early childhood education major, is among those who transferred from one school to Kent State.

Evan, however, originally started at Kent State for her freshman year.

After touring Kent’s campus her junior year of high school, Evan thought she had found the perfect school. After starting her higher education career at Kent, she found herself questioning her decision and desiring a larger school.

Evan started talking to her cousins and sister who had ties to Ohio State University. After hearing what they had to say about Ohio State, she transferred to OSU. 

Whatever Evan was looking for at Ohio State, she did not find. She transferred back to Kent her sophomore year.

“I missed the personable aspect of Kent,” Evan said. “Where the professors know you, your class sizes are smaller, you know your advisor and things are more accessible.”

“At OSU, you feel like more of a number rather than a student,” Evan said.

On top of re-adjusting, Evan said moving around caused stress. She struggled with coming back and finding new friends. 

“My friends from freshman year already had a house together,” Evan said. “It was weird coming back and realizing we didn’t have the same interests anymore.” 

Evan said transferring gave her the chance to have a fresh start and find the right friends and major. Kent also placed Evan closer to home which she saw as an added bonus.

“Transferring helped me figure out who I was as a person,” Evan said.

After her school changes, Evan chose to study early childhood education and plans to finish her college career at Kent. 

Barb Miller, the assistant director of Student Success Programs, works closely with transfer students at Kent. Transfer students received a survey from Kent in 2016 asking questions about their experiences. 

“One of the questions that we asked them was why they chose Kent State to transfer to,” Miller said. “One of the top reasons was our programs. It’s our majors that attract students.”

Major changes force students to transfer schools if their current school does not offer that major.

“An important aspect schools must accomplish is to engage transfer students in an atmosphere they are not familiar with,” Miller said. Kent created a program titled Transfer Kent State where transfer students have their own orientation and the ability to familiarize with the campus.

“Finding their place in a new environment is among the greatest hurdle transfer students must overcome,” Miller said.

“Friendships are already established, (transfer students) have a shorter amount of time to connect with students and faculty,” Miller said. “So it’s about trying to make sure they make those connections before they graduate.”

“A false stereotype transfer students hold is that they are assumed to have transferred because they failed out of their original schools,” Miller said. 

“I’m not really sure where that comes from, but that is the connotation that transfer students have to overcome,” Miller said. “They perform very well generally speaking at their other universities, and we very rarely accept students that are on academic probation, meaning that the students that we see coming from other institutions are achieving academically. That is not why they are leaving their other institution.”

Tia Minier, a junior early childhood education major, had a similar experience to Evan except she attended three different schools. 

Minier started her higher education journey at Wright State, majoring in physical therapy. She chose Wright State for its lower price tag and close distance to home.

After a full year, Minier decided she wanted to go to a bigger school because she felt commuter students heavily populated Wright State.

Minier decided she wanted to change her major to nursing. She began researching other universities and eventually decided on Kent for its affordability and size.

Minier joined Kent’s club soccer team and a nursing learning community. But, when applying for housing the next year, Minier was not sure if she wanted to stay. 

“I didn’t like that a lot of people who lived at Kent went home on the weekends,” Minier said.

Hoping to escape the commuter atmosphere she found with Wright State and Kent, Minier debated transferring again. She wrestled with the idea of transferring for a few months as she did not want to leave the friends she had and start anew. 

Minier found her place at Ohio University where she will major in early childhood education and graduate in 2020.

Although Minier does not regret her decisions, she has a few words to share with high school students making their college decisions.

“Definitely visit every single school you’re interested in,” Minier said. “When you get back home, look over every school and see if you could see yourself there being genuinely happy.”

Devon Recktenwald is the recruiting and retention reporter. Contact her at [email protected].