Transfer housing program eases transition for students

The Leaders in Transition Transfer House program is located in Bailey Hall.

Students who transfer to the University can find a maze of paperwork, credit transfers and a large student body. But a program on campus is aimed at helping those students get connected.

The Leaders in Transition Transfer House program has been set up in Bailey Hall to help transfer students integrate into the University experience as well as gain leadership skills.

Director of Orientation and First-Year Programs Beth Lingren said the housing option is similar to the living and learning communities offered for first-year students.

“It gives students the opportunity to live together in a residence hall with those who have similar interests,” she said.

Lingren and orientation and first-year programs coordinator Katie Granholm also will co-teach a required leadership course called “Personal Leadership at the University.” Students also take part in leadership programs. This year students in the program gave a teach-in on genocide in Sudan.

Last year 26 students took part in the program, which is open to 40. This year’s deadline has been extended from the end of last week to May 31.

Getting the program together sometimes can be difficult for students.

“The hard part is that transfer students make decisions at different parts of the year,” Lingren said.

A majority of the students come from community colleges and universities around the state, Lingren said.

“It’s a great way for students to make connections,” Lingren said. “Oftentimes a transfer student can be focused on academics, but this (program) allows them the chance to make connections with people with similar interests.”

Journalism sophomore Rachel Drewelow attended Drake University but decided to return to the Twin Cities and the University.

Drewelow joined the Leaders in Transition program this year as a way of becoming part of the campus environment.

“I wanted to live in a dorm so I could meet students at the ‘U’ instead of hanging out with high-school friends,” she said.

Drewelow met other transfer students in the program, which eased the transition, she said.

Bailey Hall director Sarah Sampolinski taught the leadership program the first two years. She said the program started during the 2004-2005 academic year.

“From an education standpoint we believe living on campus helps (students) get ahead,” she said.

Grade point average comparisons often show transfer students living on campus have higher grades then those living off-campus, Sampolinski said.

“When you are right on campus, the library is likely not far away,” she said.

Lingren agreed proximity plays a role in success.

“When you commute, you don’t have an opportunity for the whole community experience,” she said.

Lingren said she understands there are some students who prefer to commute to the University.

“Some don’t want that level of engagement, but we encourage it,” she said. “If you just come and go, (you’re) not taking advantage of what we call college life.”

There were some things Drewelow didn’t like about the program.

She took the leadership course but said she wished it would have fulfilled a liberal arts requirement.

“And I think it’s kind of weird that it’s on the St. Paul campus,” she said.

Still, Drewelow said she would recommend the program.

“It’s a good way to meet people,” she said.