Workgroup considers transfer students

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

Workgroup No. 3, enrollment management, acknowledged the need for improving transfer and non-traditional student registration, recruitment and evaluation efforts after listening to suggestions from staff members during its meeting Thursday.

The members agreed on recommending Eastern creating its own Workgroup to “improve and expedite new transfer student processes.”

Stone said the workgroup will include recommending hiring more evaluators who will make sure articulation is done correctly and combining different departments into one Workgroup to troubleshoot any future dilemmas.

These recommendations came after hearing the issues the university can have with recruiting transfer students.

Justin Tierney, transfer admissions counselor, said Eastern runs the risk of losing transfer students because students wait to register for classes months after they have been accepted.

“That six weeks we’ve told them you can’t register this week, we need you to come to our next date in May, June or July, that’s more time other schools could recruit them because they are not here yet,” Tierney said. “That’s where I get frustrated-is by the timing. We are in an enrollment crisis; we have got to get them committed here.”

The current system allows for students to have an academic advising session once they have chosen an orientation date.

Once orientation dates are set, transfer students can decide which day works best for their schedule and if they would rather have an online or in-person session.

Transfer coordinator Rita Pearson said it would be beneficial for transfer students to have earlier academic advising appointments so they will be prepared for late registration in February.

“Maybe we do something new, something cutting edge so we can get the students in the funnel faster or getting them excited about EIU and have them register even earlier. In EIU it starts late February, academic advising, trying to get them connected to the department earlier and line up for classes when registration does open,” Pearson said.

Kimberlie Moock, director of orientation for the Office of New Student Programs, said she agrees with changing the timeline so it can be more convenient for transfer students, but it will entail cooperation with academic advisers throughout campus.

“We can talk about moving timelines up, but we have to look at things on the academic side of the house because they are moving through the hands of current students, and I know there is stress on the advising staff in some of the departments,” she said.

This is especially the case when New Student Programs does not have as many staff members, Moock said.

“It’s going to take some technology support and it’s going to take some commitment from other departments to have those things in place,” Moock said.

Workgroup Chair Jody Stone said staffing and technology issues should not limit the university’s efforts at making students the number priority.

“Some people have their priorities mixed up in terms of, if you have students that need advising to get registered for classes whether it’s a traditional or transfer student, how do we help that student during that process sooner rather than later?” Stone said. “Then worry about other aspects of our positions down the road.”

Norman said the articulation process and updating the Degree Audit Report Systems software must be corrected before early registration and orientation can be fixed.

Articulation is the process of analyzing credits that transfer students earned from their previous colleges and then determining how those credits line up with Eastern’s academic catalog.

DARS is how students show the amount of credits earned, what graduation requirements they have met or they still need to complete and show all of the grades they have earned.

Pearson said the system and the articulation are slowed down due to lack of staffing, which harms the transfer students Eastern already has, stopping potential students from attending.

“Articulation and evaluation is so important and that’s part of this issue we are talking about, is that timelessness to get that degree audit,” Pearson said. “Some schools, as soon as (students are) admitted within two day they already have their evaluation of credits available for them to view. We can’t turn it around because we don’t have the people or staff to do that.”

To improve the transfer student experience, providing more staffing for the registrar’s office and Office of New Student Programs was recommended.

“It’s very connected for transfer students to have correct and timely articulation. It’s a recruitment strategy,” Pearson said.

She said an academic adviser cannot accurately advise students without updates to DARS reports.

“(This) could link to misadvising, duplication of classes, angry people, reduced timeliness to graduate. It’s a domino affect,” Pearson said.

Workgroup member Josh Norman, director of Enrollment Management Data Analysis and Reporting,said after the discussion about transfer registration, it has to be included in the preliminary report.

Kalyn Hayslett can reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].