More than 600 students transfer to BGSU each year, but BGSU is piloting several strategies aimed at attracting even more and helping them finish their bachelor’s degrees at the University.
“We know we have the ability to be attractive to transfer students,” said Dr. Alberto Gonzalez, vice provost for academic services.
Transfer student enrollment at the University has been steadily in the 600s for the last 10 years, ranging from 606 in 1999 to a high of 701 in 2002. Now the University is trying several initiatives to get the number of transfer students over the 700 mark more consistently.
Discussions involving academic advisors, faculty, and admissions and registrar’s office representatives produced ideas that include two financial incentives for transfer students, as well as the hiring of a transfer student advisor to work at Owens and other nearby community colleges.
The financial incentives available to transfer students entering BGSU this fall are the Transfer Excellence Incentive, a $2,500 award, and the Regional Community College Transfer Incentive, worth $1,500.
The Transfer Excellence Incentive is for students who have earned associate degrees from regionally accredited institutions or are members of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for community college students. Students eligible for the Regional Community College Transfer Incentive are transfer applicants from Owens (Toledo or Findlay), Northwest State and Terra community colleges.
The one-year awards require prospective recipients to have their admissions applications and credentials on file with the admissions office by Aug. 1, and to register for six or more credit hours each semester on the main campus. Students admitted to online degree programs are eligible for the awards, but no students will receive both—those who are eligible for both will receive only the higher Transfer Excellence Incentive.
About 60 percent of Bowling Green’s transfer students come from two-year colleges, and roughly half of those students transfer from Owens, Gonzalez said. Christine Celestino-Boes, the new transfer student advisor, has regular office hours at Owens’ Toledo campus. She will also travel to its Findlay campus and to Terra and Northwest State.
“My role is to serve students who are looking at transferring from Owens to Bowling Green,” said Celestino-Boes. Explaining that her job entails “developing a plan for them to make an easier transition,” she said she helps prospective transfers select classes “so they know the courses they’re taking at Owens will transfer to Bowling Green, and they can continue moving forward to a four-year program.”
In addition to assisting students interested in transferring to BGSU, Celestino-Boes will relay the needs of prospective transfers, who, as Gonzalez points out, are “a different kind of student” than freshmen because they can be in higher-level courses as well as general education classes.
“Transfer students are hard to categorize,” agreed Jodi Webb, associate dean of students and director of Orientation and First Year Programs. “You have a lot of different students with a lot of different needs.”
As a result, ensuring that they can get into the appropriate classes requires flexibility, said Gonzalez. An example is the expansion through the summer of transfer registration, which comes on the heels of last year’s addition of the Transfer Connection orientation site on the MyBGSU Web portal.
The Transfer Connection provides a virtual BGSU tour, important dates and information about advising, academic policies and other topics, Webb said. Transfer students are encouraged to visit the site before coming to Bowling Green for their one day of on-campus orientation.
Several BGSU colleges also are piloting new strategies for registering transfer students. In addition, a fourth staff member is being hired in Transfer Evaluation Services to help expedite review of transcripts so advisors and students know which credits will transfer with them, and a new transfer student advisory board is being formed.
“We’re continually exploring how we can better serve transfer students,” Webb said.