The 200 transfer students ate Huli Huli chicken and wore plastic leis at a recent luau held in their honor at USC. But more important than food or party favors, participants said, was the camaraderie and encouragement to join the campus mainstream.
Among the organizers was Rebecca Obadia, who transferred from Santa Monica College to USC last year and experienced the stress of starting at a new university midway through a degree program. Obadia, 26, a public relations major, helped revive a transfer student group at USC and is now its president. Transfer students "don't have the same needs as freshmen and were not welcomed the way they should have been all these years," she said.
That reception and other new efforts at private and public schools are part of a trend here and nationwide to better address the needs of these students and ease "transfer shock" as they jump into new academic and social lives long after other students. Colleges and universities are tailoring orientation sessions for them, requiring special classes, bolstering counseling, establishing clubs, setting aside housing and offering more scholarships.
"Transfers are being valued as a resource where before they were an afterthought," said Janet L. Marling, executive director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at North Georgia College and State University. They are no longer "the forgotten students."