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The Transfer Student Focus
The UA has, in recent years, accelerated its support for transfer students. The most recent initiative is UA Bridge, a partner program with Arizona community colleges.
One important way to improve the number of Arizona residents with baccalaureate degrees – a major priority for the University of Arizona and higher education leaders throughout the state – is to focus on transfer student success.
The UA and its partners are doing just that.
In addition to expanding resources and collaborations in recent years to better support transfer students, the University also has established the UA Bridge program, which connects community college students with UA resources in a more direct way.
"As a campus, there are a lot of efforts focusing on transfer students and especially bringing in students from across Arizona," said Kasey Urquidez, the UA associate vice president for Student Affairs and the undergraduate admissions dean.
The effort coincides with the Arizona Board of Regents 2020 Vision with targeted goals that would ensure that 30 percent of Arizona adults have a bachelor's degree and that the three state universities are producing 36,000 graduates annually by that year.
"In doing so, we are creating a more educated workforce for Arizona that leads to higher paying and higher skill level jobs," Urquidez said. "We want to be a major influence by graduating more students."
The program offers students pre-transfer admissions counseling with UA staff, the chance to gain renewable scholarship funds for their time at the UA, a UA CatCard, University e-mail address and the ability to use the Student Recreation Center and UA Libraries resources.
Also before transferring, UA Bridge students attend a range of events to help acclimate them to the University and are connected with Transfer Peer Mentors at the University. UA Bridge involvement also guarantees students admission into most UA undergraduate degree programs upon completion of the program and transfer.
By participating in UA Bridge, students are able to get timely, relevant information to ensure that they are UA-ready once they leave their college, said Paul Miller, senior assistant director of UA transfer recruitment.
"We should be able to boost the completion rates at community colleges," Miller said, adding that UA Bridge works to minimize any confusion about transfer requirements. "Plus, it takes some of the burden off of the community colleges to be experts on the requirements of the UA."
Ultimately, such efforts help students feel that they are part of the institution well before they are admitted. Also, with students starting out at a community college with a lower tuition before moving to the University, the program is designed to lower the cost of a college degree over time.
Phoenix native Kayla Nielsen, a 2012 Boulder Creek High School graduate, said she took an interest in UA Bridge because of its pre-orientation feel.
"It's a big difference being at a university and being at a community college. The culture is so different," said Nielsen, now a PCC student in the UA Bridge program. "Being on the UA campus makes the transition easier because you are able to do the things you need to do."
Nielsen, who is studying business administration, plans to transfer to the University next year.
"I dreamed about the UA; it is my dream University," she said.
This fall, the UA welcomed nearly 2,000 new transfer students, of which 42 percent are students of color and 46.5 percent are Arizona residents. Overall, 5,792 of the UA's undergraduates are transfer students, more than 18 percent of the student population. In addition to UA Bridge, the UA offers a number of other resources for transfer students:
- The UA maintains a calendar of events geared toward transfer students.
- Saturday Transfer Round-Up events are held on a regular basis. The next event will be Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., informing students about the UA admissions process and providing a tour of campus. More information on this event and others is available online. Students should RSVP to attend the events online.
- The Transfer Student Center is a centralized space offering social and academic support for current and prospective transfer students
- Student organizations like the Transfer Student Association and Tau Sigma Beta Omega, a chapter of the Transfer Student Honor Society, help to cultivate a sense of community for students.
- Students enrolled in PCC'S STU 210 course learn about transfer strategies for moving from community college to the University.
- The UA hosts an official welcome specifically for transfer students, informing them about University resources and aiding with student networking opportunities.
"We want students to have a connection from day one so that when they get here, it is not a brand new experience," Urquidez said.
"Transfer students are dealing with a lot of different scenarios; every single transfer student is different," she said. "Because of the difference in experience, we must work closely with Academic Affairs and the community colleges."
In addition to strong familial support, students also need financial, academic and social support in order to aid with success.
Terra Benson, PCC's director of admission and registrar, cited research showing that transfer students must feel socially embedded in their university of choice in order to be successful.
"Transfer students want to feel part of the institution where they are going even before they get there," Benson said, noting that economic factors are the primary reason students opt to attend PCC before moving to a university.
"If we can get our students to focus on their goal and help them to see the end in sight – with a structured path, and make that path obvious – they are more likely to achieve their goal," she said. "UA Bridge sets up an expectation, from that start, that you are completing one goal and moving from PCC to the UA."
Benson said she and others take pride in the UA-PCC connection.
"The community holds the UA in such high regard, as it should," Benson said. "For me, the stronger the partnership with the UA the better. I am a proponent of partnership and anything we can do to create a high school completing and college-going culture in Tucson. It benefits us all."