Transfer students often struggle

Nechelle Davis, a senior interdisciplinary studies major from Fort Lauderdale, transferred to Florida A&M in January of 2016. Davis is no stranger to the routine of transitioning from institution to institution. Prior to FAMU she attended Santa Fe College in Gainesville and Auburn University in Alabama.

Davis’ complications with the university were initiated before she even received an official response back from the university in regards to her acceptance. Davis said there was a lot of confusion with what she needed to bring to orientation, for example, her immunization forms.

“When I moved here I actually did not know I was accepted, I never received the acceptance notification via mail nor email,” Davis said. “The only reason I knew I was accepted was because I have a cousin who worked for the university and notified me of the date and time of the transfer student orientation.”

However, these issues that she thought were left in her past, transitioned over into the Spring 2018 semester.

“FAMU did not have my Associate of Arts degree listed on my transcript, despite me sending it electronically and delivering it to them personally,” said Davis. “Without the proof of my degree I was almost forced to enroll in general courses that I already completed.”

Collin Wigfall, a sophomore psychology major a transfer from Husson University in Maine, commented on the negative first impression he had of FAMU.

“I feel it was very rushed. They tried to do our orientation in one day, which is hard to do with so many students,” said Wigfall. “They should extend the orientation to give us more time to get acclimated with the campus and the requirements for our degree.”

Wigfall also presented his concern with enrolling in classes as a transfer student. Transfer students and first-time students enroll in classes during orientation. However, unlike freshmen who take primarily general courses, transfers run into the issue of the classes required for their major being closed due to their late enrollment. 

Jina Gilliam, a senior public relations student from Orlando, transferred from Valencia College to FAMU in Fall 2016. As a response to her difficult transition into FAMU, Gillam became an orientation leader in December 2016 to specifically assist transfer students in their collegiate journey.

“As a transfer student, I set out to become an orientation leader because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of transfer students and the perception people had towards us as well as the attitude transfer students felt about FAMU,” said Gilliam.

There is a definite difference in orientation styles between first-time students and transfer students.

“I believe the difference is obvious in how transfer students are perceived just from orientation alone. Incoming freshmen receive a three-day orientation, FAMU gear and an in depth introduction to FAMU culture. Transfer students get a few hours in Lee hall and then we're thrown to the wolves,” said Gillam.

Transfer Student Services (TSS) is designed to ensure undergraduate transfer students have a smooth transition into FAMU However, obviously there is still more work to be done within the university.

William Hudson, the Vice President of Student Affairs, was out of the office due to a travel engagement and was not able to comment on the issue.