Written By: Clare Kelly
All across the country, colleges and universities celebrated their transfer students, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) did the same. Throughout the week of Oct. 19, the Office of Student Support Services held events to show their appreciation of transfer students. As Mary Dorsey, the Director of Academic Support, mentioned in her email, “We at St. Mary’s are thrilled that you have chosen us as your academic home and the place you will earn your Bachelor’s degree!”
Transfer students’ rates, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, saw a 4.7 percent decrease in comparison to the rates of last fall, reported Inside Higher Education. Despite the pandemic, St. Mary’s still received many transfer students and also retained the ones they had received in past semesters.
Throughout the week, the office held events that allowed transfer students to socialize. On Tuesday, Oct. 20 the office gave out SMCM t-shirts to all transfer students, and on Wednesday, Oct. 21 the Student Activities and Programs Board held a Virtual Fall Trivia Night. Then, to end the week, there was a Transfer-Time Bonfire at the Waring Commons Fire Pit.
Hayley Romero ’22, a recent transfer student to St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said:
“I really love participating in all campus events where I can socialize with people.” SMCM provided transfer students with the opportunity to socialize and get to know one another while adhering to the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Given the state of everything due to the pandemic, the in-person event was especially important to Romero, who remarked: “Just being able to talk to people helps make things feel normal, even though you have to wear a mask and keep distance. I especially liked meeting other transfer students because we have this shared experience.” She also explained that it is nice to be able to talk to people in-person when her interaction with them is usually limited to Zoom calls.
In response to the week’s events, Dorsey said, “Our Transfer student events were a part of the National Transfer Student Recognition Week. We had a great response to our first set of events and we’re looking forward to working with transfer students to create a bigger set of events for transfer welcome events in January and for next fall.”
Katelyn Kluh ’22, an athlete on the SMCM Volleyball and Basketball teams and a member of Catholic Seahawks stated that throughout National Transfer Week, “it was pretty cool to be recognized as a transfer student here at St. Mary’s with the special events held on campus.” Katelyn received a t-shirt in the beginning of the week and then was able to make s’mores at the Bonfire held at Waring Commons, which, as Katelyn puts it, “was a lot of fun!” She enjoyed connecting with the faculty, and specifically she says she enjoyed meeting “the wonderful Deena Kelly from admissions, who I had only previously corresponded with through email over the summer. She provided a lot of amazing guidance and support in my transfer process, which I am tremendously grateful for.”
Mary Dorsey invites transfer students to contact her about any information they might want to get involved in. Transfer students often become lost in the mix of students As Inside Higher Ed mentioned in an article published earlier this year, transfer students are presented with many barriers. Inside Higher Ed recommended that four-year campuses take multiple steps to establish better connections, but one, in particular, includes creating programs geared towards transfer students.
It is clear from these orchestrated events and the reactions of these students that these efforts meant much to them. These events allowed transfer students to meet each other, even amidst troubling times, and feel the warmth of the SMCM community.