Transfer students deserve better accommodations

Jacob Schmidt

Most new Longhorns are breathing a small sigh of relief now that the semester is under way. For the more than 8,500 freshmen, the first class week’s mix of stress and excitement has passed and life on the 40 Acres is gaining a sense of normalcy. But for another group of new students, the story is different.

For the 2,500-odd students who attended transfer orientation this year, the opportunities to learn and connect were fewer: three sessions versus six for freshmen, half as many hours of scheduled social events and no college cohorts or 360 Connections meetings. And the discrepancies at orientation are just the beginning.

A transfer student’s struggles extend beyond the social sphere, too. A recent U.S. Department of Education study demonstrated that transfer students lose 13 credit hours on average, with 40 percent of these students getting no credit at all. 

No one should have to start their Longhorn career a semester behind, especially after previous success in college. Unlike freshmen, UT’s transfer students are proven college rock stars; they’ve already taken at least 30 hours of college courses with an average 3.5 GPA. So why are transfer students treated like second-class citizens?

Sure, UT provides Transfer-Year Interest Groups, the transfer student equivalent of the more well-known Freshman Interest Groups. But I (and probably many transfer students) had no clue TRIGs existed until I wrote this article.

Student organizations and Greek institutions also inadvertently neglect transfers because recruitment focuses on freshmen. Even my honors program is guilty — we struggle to incorporate transfer students into the extensive social and mentoring opportunities we cultivate for freshmen.

Adjusting to college is difficult enough, and shouldn’t be any worse when transitioning from another. UT’s transfer students are the elite of the new Longhorns, with a demonstrated capacity for success and a passion for the 40 Acres. Let’s start treating them as such.

Schmidt is an aerospace engineering and physics junior from Austin. Follow him on Twitter @heyjakers.