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Junior transfer students have trouble graduating on time

Photo: Junior transfer students have trouble graduating on time
Lauren McGuire, a second semester sophomore transfer student, and Myeshia Floyd, a junior transfer student, discuss the problems they face as transfer students while outside the Steele Building after a meeting made up of a committee of transfer students. Lauren is majoring in English and Myeshia is majoring in Biology.

When Lauren McGuire first applied as a junior transfer student to UNC, she thought all she needed in a university was friendly people, warm weather and lacrosse.

What McGuire didn’t anticipate was the frustration associated with trying to graduate in eight semesters. McGuire, like many of the other 800 undergraduate transfer students, is unable to enroll in classes she needs.

She left the College of Lake County in Chicago with 41 credits, but UNC only accepted a portion of those credits.

“When they put us in first-year programs and classes, it doesn’t compensate what we need,” she said. “As an out-of-state student, I’m paying a ridiculous amount of money in tuition for a University that’s not accepting a lot of my previous classes.”

A 2010 report conducted by the University found that only 44 percent of junior transfer students at UNC are able to graduate in eight semesters.

But administrators still say that UNC has invested a lot in the success of transfer students in the past few years despite campuswide budget cuts.

“The University has increased their attention to transfer student retention and graduation,” said Cynthia Demetriou, director for retention for the Undergraduate Education Office.

“While there have been budget cuts that are affecting all students, we’ve been investing a lot in our transfer students,” Demetriou said. “We’ve started programs to raise awareness of these students and encourage their success.”

These initiatives are not likely to be affected by budget cuts because of efforts by the University to reinforce the importance of transfer students’ graduation rates, said Lee May, associate dean and director of academic advising.

The University is working to create programs such as a living learning community and a new system where transfer students can have their credits re-evaluated online.

The academic advising office is meeting with transfer students months before school starts and even holding appointments via Skype.

Bobbi Owen, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, said the only clearly tangible effects of budget cuts on transfer students are faculty cuts in departments like admissions and academic advising.

“There are fewer numbers of people who can work to help the same number of students who come in — including transfer students,” she said.

Owen said the best remedy for this situation is early registration, but McGuire said that’s nearly impossible for transfer students.

She said academic advising should accommodate transfer students with an advising team that would deal specifically with transfer students.

Transfer students can petition for an additional semester to fulfill graduation requirements.

“We want all students to graduate,” May said. “If students are behind because of course transferring here, we will not hold them up from graduating.”

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