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Transfer finds transition easy - but wants to live on campus

Comm 260: Journalism
Amanda Collins
Students identify and cover "beats" for 600-700-word news and feature stories. Most, but not all, are campus-oriented. Each has a thematic focus (e.g., health care, public safety, student activities, dorm life), with clearly identified informants who are cultivated for story ideas and used as sources.

Beat features explore a small slice of a larger story by painting a vivid portrait of a person, an organization or institution, or a particular activity or trend, and in so doing give us a deeper grasp of the larger story. They are constructed with an engaging "soft" lead (typically descriptive, anecdotal or narrative, though sometimes designed to tease), a thematic "nut" graf, and sufficient contextual material to enable the reader to navigate the piece without difficulty, followed by a well-crafted narrative. In all cases, students follow Associated Press style and are asked to produce error-free copy for publication in campus or other newspapers.

"I hated high school," Megan Michaud says. "I hated the cliques. I hated the drama of such a small town. And I really hated all the boys I went to school with. I couldn't wait to graduate and just get away from it all."

Two years ago she did. But the problems followed her. In August 2006 Michaud, then 19, packed her bags and moved six hours away to the bustling city of Denver and enrolled at Regis College, an all-women's school. She says she loved her new life, at least for a year.

"Regis was letting men come into the school, but lied about it to the students. Initially men were not going to be allowed to transfer into the other classes. I found out at work when I was designing the transfer brochure that men were in fact going to be allowed to transfer in," Michaud says.

So Michaud did what many college students opt to do when the school they chose out of high school is not what they bargained for: She transferred to another college. "I'm so glad I transferred to Simmons," Michaud says. "It's exactly what I was looking for in a school."

Michaud is one of a large group of students choosing to switch colleges before they graduate, for a number of reasons. Some begin at a two-year college and later move to four-year school, some feel that they want to be in a different location, others decide to change their major want to find a better program, and some, like Michaud, just find that the college they first chose is not the right fit.

But many transfer students find that once they get to the school that is right for them, they face new issues that students already enrolled do not. Among the challenges are adjusting to a new school, making friends, and making sure they get all the credits earned at their previous college.

Each year, more than 60 students transfer to Simmons College, according to admissions office staff. Lauren Avalos, the director of transfer admissions, says that most come from either the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass) or Boston University (BU).

Admissions staff say they realize that a change from a large co-ed school like UMass or BU to a small, single-sex college like Simmons can be tough. They say it is their goal to give transfer students the "information, advice, and the personal attention you need to make the process go smoothly." But most Simmons transfer students do not have a hard time adjusting to Simmons. All those interviewed for this article say they love their small classes, and they love living in Boston. And those students who come from co-ed schools say that being with all women can be very empowering.

"I like that Simmons is a motivated, strong women's college," says Amber Wilmot, 19, a Simmons sophomore who transferred from the University of New Hampshire.

Wilmot is also happy that Simmons accepted all the credits she earned there. "A lot of schools I looked at when I wanted to transfer weren't going to take all my credits. And that would affect when I graduated," she says.

Simmons' admissions Web site says transfer students "will be granted credit for any course taken at another accredited institution, provided a comparable course is offered by Simmons. A minimum grade of C is required to receive credit for a course. An official transfer credit evaluation will be sent with your letter of admission." But adjusting to a new school and dealing with transfer credits transfer are not the only challenges. Many transfer students says they have a hard time meeting people, as friendships on campus have already been formed.

Office of Residential Life staff say they hope to solve this problem by putting all transfer students together in one dorm. The Beacon Street dorm, a little over two miles from the Simmons academic campus, houses all transfer students who opt to live on campus. But many say they do not get the benefits of living on campus because of the dorm's remote location.

"The thing that I find hard as a transfer student is being so disconnected from the school. We are living on Beacon Street, where the rooms are gorgeous, but it is difficult to make friends because we are limited just to the transfers. I also feel that we are often not notified about campus events," Michaud says.

Most Simmons transfer students living on Beacon Street share Michaud's sentiment.

"I think the only thing that would make the transition as a transfer at Simmons easier would be to have a transfer house on-campus, instead of at Beacon Street," says Wilmot. "It would be easier to meet people."

Crystal Carroll, 19, a sophomore transfer student from Southern New Hampshire University agrees: "I love the independent living on Beacon Street, but I think I would feel more engaged in the Simmons community if actually lived on campus."