Student Connection Club Creates New Friends

New Club Will Facilitate Friendships Through Mentoring Program for Transfer Students

While colleges and universities offer a variety of services to transfer students, starting this fall, the University’s transfer club will now supply incoming transfers with the most essential asset of all, a friend.

The University Transfer Student Connection Club is developing a student-run mentor program to help new transfer students connect with one another to provide a smoother transition. The program is currently in the early stages of development and is expected to be implemented by fall 2013.

“We wanted to start this to show everybody that our school understands how transfer students may feel being new students and possibly not knowing anybody, or even much about campus life,” said Jessica Deigert, co-founder and president of the Transfer Student Connection Club.

“A more established transfer student will be paired up with a newer transfer student, based on major and/or if they come from the same college, or are possibly out-of-state as well,” said Deigert. “It is a great way to make an immediate friend and have somebody not only to hang out with, but to give you advice.”

The program was created by Jean-Marie Delao, club advisor, who collaborated with Deigert and Lauren DeSantis, club co-founder and president, this past September. The idea of the program came about during the initial proposal for the club last fall.

“I think giving a new transfer student the opportunity to have a peer mentor that has successfully been through the process of transferring into Monmouth is a very effective way of helping that new student transition smoothly and successfully,” said Delao.

DeSantis said that mentors will be paired with newer transfers by their major. “We tossed around ideas by region, school, etc., but it’s essentially better to do it by major,” said DeSantis. “Somebody who is a psychology student wouldn’t benefit as well by having me as their mentor because I don’t know much about psychology since I’m a business major.”

“Other preferences a student may have will also be considered. For instance, if an international transfer would prefer an international mentor, then the club could possibly pair the student with an international student active in the club,” said Delao.

Delao continues, “There’s nothing set in stone.” The club will seek input from the students to determine the most effective method for the program.

In developing the program, DeSantis received input from students going into college or transferring. Some suggestions she received include monthly lunch meetings with mentors as well as campus tours led by mentors that will show new students the campus.

“It’s important to note that this is going to be an informal program associated with and run by the club,” said Delao, “adding that mentors will not receive payment and that there are no plans for structured, regulated meetings between students and mentors.”

The Transfer Student Connection Club was created by Deigert and DeSantis after meeting at a pizza party held by Transfer Services on September 19, 2012. The students pitched the club to the Student Government Association in January this year. The club was approved February 4 and currently has 20 members.

DeSantis explained that she wished she had a club or mentor program available to her during her transfer experience this past fall. Following a negative experience at her previous institution, DeSantis did not expect to transfer to the University. She explained she had a difficult time adjusting during her first semester. Once she began to make friends, things became more enjoyable.

Shane Hueth, University transfer student, said, “Having a transfer mentor would’ve probably allowed me to ease into the MU ‘culture’ a bit more quickly and easily, just based on the fact that I would have known when events were occurring and things of that nature.”

Rutgers University currently has a mentor program for transfer students. According to the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) website, the program currently features 36 student mentors who participate in programs and seminars planned by the SAS Transfer Center.

However, Delao said the mentor program in development by the University’s transfer club will differ significantly from Rutgers. The Rutgers program is run by administrators, while the University program will be run by students in the club.

Jean Judge, associate dean for Support Services and Articulation, urges students not to underestimate the support that faculty can offer to transfers. Judge is a previous transfer student, she explained that the encouragement she received from faculty members helped as she adjusted to her new school while simultaneously raising a family. Judge concluded that many transfers are unique and desire different levels of mentoring and guidance.

Delao explained that because of the economy, many colleges and universities could anticipate more transfer students than ever before. The fall 2011 semester at the University saw the greatest number of transfers in University history at approximately 365.

Ultimately, Delao believes that the most important thing transfers will gain from this experience is a friendly connection to all that the University has to offer students.