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Celebrating National Transfer Student Week: Student ‘finds home’ at UHCL

Written by: Lauren Sawyer

Full Steam Ahead! Celebrated every third week of October, this year’s National Transfer Student Week theme aims to clear the path to transfer students’ success by removing barriers and obstacles, while fueling students’ journeys by connecting them to tools and support that empowers them to achieve their academic goals. University of Houston Clear- Lake’s Transfer Advising office is here to assist students with their transition.

Just ask Alondra Funes, a transfer student from Lee College pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication. She says that her enrollment experience was plain sailing.

“It’s been such a smooth transition. (College of Human Sciences and Humanities Director of Advising) Erick Ortiz, who is my advisor, was very helpful. Every question I asked, he answered, and  he was prompt with sending documentation,” Funes said. “I also like that there is so much to do and many ways to get involved. I’ve had opportunities to meet people and build relationships.”

Funes said that she originally transferred to another university to complete her bachelor’s degree but wasn’t satisfied. After doing her research and realizing all UH-Clear Lake offered, she quickly realized it was home and the best place for her to be. She aspires to a career in social media marketing after graduation.

“I like how UHCL actually takes the time to connect with students. The campus is great. Although it’s much smaller, I like it because I can connect with my peers and professors easier. It’s more intimate,” she said.

Director of Transfer Advising and Student Transitions Kristi Rickman, said advising assistance is offered prior to students enrolling at UHCL to ensure the best transition.

“We guide them while they are taking classes at their community college. We also advise all newly admitted transfer students to be sure their credits are maximized prior to them enrolling in classes here, so they don’t unnecessarily retake a class just because our course may have a different title,” Rickman said.

Rickman added that advising is important because it is their job to teach students the resources and how to understand them.

“Advisors are teachers. If a student can understand how to navigate and use their online degree audit, then they will never enroll in the incorrect classes here at UHCL,” she explained. “Once a student understands this tool, then their conversation with their advisor can evolve to a deeper level. We can learn more about their career goals and be sure they are taking the best classes to attain those goals.”

Rickman said it’s imperative to connect with the Transfer Advising office early so they can help devise a plan on when to transfer. Since over 55% of UHCL's student body have transferred from another institution, they are well equipped to handle all questions. 

“Most of our students work either part-time or full-time, and have many other responsibilities they are juggling. We want to ease their burden of responsibilities and help them best navigate the transition to the university,” she said.

Funes wants transfer students to know that UHCL’s transfer advisors are there to answer any questions and provide support to students throughout the process.

“I did my research, called and asked for general information and applied the same day. For me, I was going the education route and felt discouraged because I didn’t feel connected at my previous university,” she said. “I was really nervous, but the reputation of the campus and recommendations I got to come here, plus the support from my advisor gave me the green light to ‘just do it’.”

The Transfer Advising office is hosting its first-ever Transfer Student Celebration for UHCL students on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The event will take place between the Student Services and Classroom Building and the Bayou Building.  Rickman encourages students to come to the event.

“Our office usually only onboards new students to the university, so we don’t have much interaction with them after they enroll in classes,” she said. “I am excited to visit with our transfer students, learn their experiences and how they are doing. I want to know what advice they have for me and my team, as well as any future transfer students considering enrolling at UHCL.” 

For more information about UHCL’s Transfer Advising office visit, www.uhcl.edu/academics/advising/transfer/.