In a school of a little more than 2,000 students, only a handful might understand the full experience of a transfer student. A student entering St. Mary’s College at the start of their sophomore or junior year may find themselves struggling to find their own niche in the close-knit St. Mary’s community, sitting awkwardly through yet another round of first-year orientation activities and 101-level classes. While some individuals of this tiny group of students may experience a smooth transition into life as St. Mary’s students, others continue to grapple with frustrations regarding academic and social challenges here on campus.
One particular transfer student who knows these feelings all too well is senior Shannon Insley. As a transfer from Towson University in the Fall 2012 semester, Insley quickly realized that entering St. Mary’s as a transferred Biology major was no easy feat.
“The first thing I said, and some peers stated, during the first semester is, ‘This school is hard. Period.’”
These drawbacks did not discourage Insley, but rather inspired her and a group of other transfer students to start a club that specifically addresses and articulates the challenges of transfers to the rest of the school, particularly any open ears in administration.
One of her main concerns is addressing the requirement of the CORE 101 seminar, a required course for all first-year students and transfers.
“Currently, transfers are intertwined with the freshman orientation which includes activities and information we are already aware of. Also it makes it harder to create a comfortable social balance considering the age difference,” said Insley. “Secondly, most transfers are shocked by the expectation differences between this school and the previous school. The expectations in conjugation with the honors label are misinterpreted by many. The core class does very little in helping with the social aspect and the adaption to the higher caliber. Its basically an English class.”
The current Transfer Club is a second-generation attempt to alleviate these issues by a team effort. Originally founded about a year ago, the club is slowly getting off the ground to improve the St. Mary’s experience for these students.
“The basic objective of the club is to simply create an atmosphere for transfer students to reside in. The other, more challenging objective of the club is to better the transfer program SMCM has in place.”
With determined Insley behind the wheel, St. Mary’s students can expect to see some positive changes underway for incoming transfer students in coming semesters.