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Transfer Students face many hurdles

By Cody Shilling     4/21/11 7:00pm

Students transferring into Rice get the short end of the stick by anyone's standards. With issues such as academic credit and housing, the transfer experience here is far from perfect or even acceptable.

Transfer credits are a huge pain for recent transfers. While the Registrar's Office tells you over the summer which classes will and will not transfer for specific class credit, if you have taken a certain class somewhere else and want to prove you have taken a class dealing with that topic, you have to go in and talk to the professors in order to get their signature (which requires you be there in person.

Obviously this is a problem if you won't be in Houston until O-Week), provide them with a syllabus of the class you've taken (which can be quite problematic if you're no longer a student of the other school) or take a test for the professors (also an issue during O-Week to find time when the student is free and the professor is at school). Then you have to go talk to the transfer credit advisors for each major. All of this takes place during O-Week, and we all remember how packed and crazy the whole week is. And if one of those classes you have already taken is a pre-requisite for other classes, if that credit didn't automatically transfer, you're out of luck until that gets solved. And if the professor for that certain class just happens not to be there during O-Week, there isn't a whole lot you can do.

Or what if classes at another school don't match up perfectly? This past year, there were several transfers from UT Austin who had taken the organic chemistry lecture but not the lab. At the beginning of the year, the orgo lab and lecture were co-requisites.

This was a huge issue for students until the administration managed to make exceptions allowing students to take just the lab. And this wasn't something that was solved prior to transfers arriving here at Rice; this all happened during O-Week, with PAAs scrambling to work that out with the Chemistry Department and the Registrar's Office (mega kudos to them).

Also, transfer students are not guaranteed on-campus housing the year they transfer to Rice. This means that students transferring in are forced to either find an apartment over the summer, often while living in another city, or wait in some cases until the Saturday before classes start to know whether they even have a bed on campus — either of which is extremely stressful. The fact that they are pretty much forced off campus their first year here isolates transfers to a great degree and is in need of serious revision. Not only are they new to the school (in most cases not knowing more than a handful of people here), which is difficult enough to adjust to, they are also often forced to go off campus, giving them even fewer opportunities to meet with people and really integrate themselves into their college specifically and the university as a whole. Once people move off campus there is a strong tendency to stay off campus, further alienating transfers and reducing their chances of really feeling like they are part of Rice.

One way to fix the housing situation is to simply guarantee transfers on-campus housing. Sure, they might have more experience at a college than incoming freshmen, but that in no way means they will integrate into Rice's community anywhere near the extent that they could if they lived on campus. I feel that our community here at Rice is so close-knit that forcing a specific group of people out of it without choice is something that we really need to take another look at and examine what our best options are for improving the system.

Cody Shilling is a Will Rice College sophomore.

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