U welcomes new transfer students

Undergraduate transfer students recently had their school orientation.

Aaron Job

As Elizabeth Momanyi left Coffman Memorial Union last week, she realized she forgot to get the all-encompassing campus pass — her U Card.

“Are you from Minnesota?” a student worker at the U Card office asked. 

“I mean, I was born in Kenya, but I’m a citizen,” Momanyi said.

Momanyi, whose family emigrated from Kenya when she was a baby, took PSEO classes in high school and got her associate’s degree at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn. 

Last week, she and transfer students from around the world attended their orientation sessions. Each year, the University enrolls more than 2,000 transfer students, a diverse group that makes up nearly 30 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment.

While some students cast critiques on the orientation process, most said it was helpful and were looking forward to starting classes.

“I’m extremely excited,” Momanyi said. “I feel like my life will change by September. I’m living with my mom right now … and I just want to be on my own.”

The transfer orientation process involves an online segment and an in-person meeting. Transfer students also have their own welcome day during the University’s Welcome Week, said Orientation and First Year Programs Director Beth Lingren Clark.

Clark said the orientation is designed to address various transfer-specific needs, like credit loads and adjusting to a new campus.

“Some come because they planned to transfer; some come because maybe something didn’t turn out or their circumstances change. So it’s important for us to acknowledge that in the process and address their needs in a different way,” she said.

Momanyi said she was disappointed with the availability of classes.

“When I set up my orientation last month … I asked them, ‘Since I’m signing up in July, doesn’t that mean I’m kind of late to register?’” she said. “They were like, ‘No, we have seats reserved for transfer students.’ But when I got there today, they’re saying I basically have to just show up to one of the classes and hope that someone else doesn’t show up.”

Class reservations for transfer students vary based on college and course, said Chelsea Garcia, assistant director for Transfer Orientation and Welcome Programs.

Sunny Jun, who transferred from the University of Minnesota-Duluth — one of the University’s top feeder schools for transfers — said transferring credits was frustrating.

“They are the same university system, but they don’t really communicate with each other,” Jun said. “I was taking the chemical engineering classes, and I asked my professor if those classes would be transferred, and they were like, ‘I don’t know. You’d have to ask them.’”

Still, she said she found orientation useful and looks forward to meeting more people on a bigger campus — a sentiment Garcia said is common among transfer students.

“Last year one of the top five reasons students selected the U was because of student life programming and opportunities to engage,” she said. “Another reason, I think, with 60 percent of our students coming from Minnesota, [is] just because of the reputation the U has. … Students are attracted to that.”

Kyle and Sarah Jenson said their son Jacob is one of those students. The Albert Lea couple is looking forward to Jacob’s transition to the University after his stints at Mankato State University and Riverland Community College. They said he already landed a job and is excited about study abroad opportunities.

Garcia said transfer students’ concerns change after they spend time at the University, shifting from academic woes to social ones.

Amelia Parker, a rising sophomore from North Dakota State University, said she received a transfer student scholarship for the University. As she left to tour her new apartment, she said she was mostly excited for “meeting new people — I don’t know anyone.”