With more transfers than new freshmen, students explore before finding niche in College of Design

This year, the school admitted 116 transfers and 85 freshmen.

Kali Dingman

To find majors like architecture and retail merchandising, many students have to explore other classes at the University of Minnesota before transferring over to the College of Design.

The school relies on students who transfer into the school from more general programs like the College of Liberal Arts and area community colleges.

While many of their transfers come from within the Twin Cities campus, the college still has the highest percentage of transfer students overall âÄî including new transfers and transfers from campuses in the University system.

Now, more transfer students enroll in the school than freshmen each semester. About 60 percent of the schoolâÄôs transfer students are enrolling from other colleges within the Twin Cities campus.

In fall 2011, the school admitted 217 transfer students and 201 freshmen. In contrast, the College of Biological Sciences  admitted only 139 transfer students and 420 freshmen.

The cap on transfer students beginning in fall 2012 will not affect the high percentage of transfer students the College of Design takes in every semester, said Assistant Dean Kate Maple. The school already pays close attention to the number of students they select for their programs.

âÄúThe process is already very selective because of the limited space in the studios,âÄù Maple said.

The number of transfer students the school takes in each year varies as a result of the amount of freshmen that are admitted that year.

The school does not admit students who are undecided. Many of its students enroll in a different school within the University and take exploratory courses and look into career centers to decide which major they want to pursue.

âÄúA lot of students need to take classes to realize what they want,âÄù Maple said. âÄúMany of them donâÄôt think until later âÄòOh! I can make a career out of that.âÄôâÄù

Some majors like architecture and landscape design did not even admit incoming freshmen when the school was created in 2006, said Trevor Miller, the schoolâÄôs director of external affairs.

 But now, all seven of the schoolâÄôs undergraduate majors admit freshmen.

âÄúSome of our fields, like housing studies and environmental design, are not those that most freshmen think of majoring in,âÄù Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design, said. âÄúSo many students discover what these fields are and the many job opportunities they lead to after having started in other majors.âÄù

Some students also attend community colleges before transferring to the University after two years. The faculty at the school works with many of these colleges, such as Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Alexandria Technical and Community College.

âÄúWe work closely with the community colleges so the students take the necessary classes in order to get into the program at the University,âÄù Maple said.

Sophomore architecture student Nick LaNasa said he chose to attend a community college before transferring into the architecture program because he wanted to prove he was a good student and could compete in the competitive program.

âÄúGoing to a community college first was a nice transition because of the cost, and I wanted to be competitive by applying with college credits,âÄù LaNasa said.

The University has one of the most prestigious design programs in the state, Maple said, and it therefore appeals to many transfer students.

âÄúSome of our fields are not offered anywhere else in Minnesota and so we get a fair number of students transferring from other institutions once they decide on their career path,âÄù Fisher said.  

LaNasa chose to be a part of the architecture program because of its credibility.

âÄúThe University was the best option for me because itâÄôs the better program of any other school nearby,âÄù LaNasa said.

Regardless of where the students come from, Miller said they all bring something important to the school.

âÄúEach student across our college, regardless of their background, where they came from or how they got here, adds to the overall learning experience,âÄù he said. âÄúEach studentâÄôs story is as beneficial as the next.âÄù