A new home away from home

For transfer students, changing schools leads to both trials and successes

Queen’s has implemented “targeted recruitment and outreach activities” in hopes of bringing in more transfer students to the school.
Credit: 
Graphic by Ashley Quan

Kevin Rush, a former Wilfrid Laurier student, says transferring to Queen’s wasn’t as simple as it sounds. 

When Rush transferred to Queen’s after the 2013-14 academic year, some of his courses didn’t line up properly. As a result, he was forced to take another year.

“I was in computer science and business at Laurier, but Queen’s has their Commerce business school,” Rush, CompSci ’17, said. “So all my business credits just counted as electives. But if I wanted to go into Commerce, I don’t think Queen’s would accept them as commerce credits.”

Because his Laurier courses didn’t cover some of his required courses at Queen’s, he’ll have to take an extra year — or more — to complete his degree.

Rush says he decided to transfer after realizing he wasn’t enjoying the courses he was taking at Laurier. He chose Queen’s because the school “always felt like home,” he said.

Like all transfer students, Rush faced obstacles in switching to a new university, both in terms of credits and in adapting to a new campus, the challenges started before he arrived.  

One of the requirements in transferring to Queen’s is meeting a certain grade point average. In Rush’s case, that was a 2.6 GPA in Computer Science. His GPA was too low after his first year at Laurier, so he delayed his plans for a year in order to improve his grades.

“I was like one GPA or half a GPA under the thing, so I was like ‘Darn, I didn’t get in,’” he said. “So, I took a year and got my grades up and then got in.”

For an upper-year student — anyone who has attempted at least 24 credits at another university — trying to transfer to Queen’s, the academic requirements shift based on what they’re planning on studying.

While the majority of disciplines in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences only require a 2.6 GPA to transfer into them, some require a higher minimum GPA. The highest GPA required for a transfer into a program is a 3.7 GPA, equivalent to an A- average,  in the Environmental Science program.

Upper-year transfer students like Rush are becoming an increased focus for Queen’s. The 2014-15 Enrolment Report from the University Senate noted that in the 2013-14 academic year — the same year Rush transferred to Queen’s — the University underwent “new targeted recruitment and outreach activities” in an attempt to bring in more transfer students.

While data from this school year wasn’t available, the 2014-15 Report contains data on the number of upper-year transfer students. It was the first annual report to include those figures, due to the new-found focus on recruiting transfer students.

Of the new students at the beginning of that academic year, 136 had come from other universities, a rise of 48 per cent from the 2013-2014 school year.

The Journal contacted Queen’s Communications for comment on transfer students, but did not receive a response by deadline.

Rush said transfer students can face some unique difficulties. Instead of entering into the same environment as first-year students, transfer students, especially those who apply later, are put into difficult situations in terms of finding housing.

He added that his membership in the men’s rugby team helped ease the transition, since it gave him a group of people to socialize with. 

“The thing that helped me was rugby, so if as a transfer student you can have a group of people that can be a good foundation, that can help you be social, be active and interact at Queen’s,” Rush said. “That’s what I think is the most important thing for a transfer student, because it’s very easy to shy away.”

Kurt Dunn, meanwhile, found his transition much easier.

It’s been three years since he transferred out of Queen’s after his first year of university. Now a fourth-year music student at Brock, Dunn said his experience changing schools was a reasonably easy one. 

“It was pretty well out of my hands, which was nice,” he said. “I still kind of checked in to see how my status was doing, but for the most part it was kind of up to the universities to do their own things through communicating with each other.”

But he said he didn’t get the same level of support from an academic advisor at Queen’s. After his first semester, Dunn began to consider leaving the university and met with an academic advisor.

 “It was kind of funny because I went to an academic advisor or something like that at Queen’s, and when I asked them about transferring, they kind of said, ‘We don’t really want you to transfer out from the school,’” Dunn said. “So that wasn’t too helpful for me. I had to go and ask [Brock] what I had to do to go about that.”

Dunn said his reasons for leaving Queen’s had nothing to do with the school. The St. Catharines native chose to transfer to Brock to cut down on travel costs, since he had often gone home during the course of his first year.

“I loved the atmosphere at Queen’s. I thought it was a great school,” Dunn said. “It was more for my own reasons that I just needed to be closer to home.”

Like Rush, Dunn was concerned that credits from his first year wouldn’t necessarily align with the courses he planned on taking at Brock. Luckily, he said, there weren’t too many issues on that front.

“For me, I was lucky most of my credits lined up,” he said. “I know a lot of people, [where] once they’re transferring, they have to take almost a whole other year to match up what their credits should be.”

Oren Redinger, who is now a Commerce student at Queen’s, went through the same process as Dunn and Rush. In his case, gaining admission to Queen’s was his original goal, but he made a quick detour to the University of Guelph for his first year of university.

“Right when I got into Guelph, I knew that I wanted to leave,” Redinger, Comm ’17, said. “So right away I just started pushing for better grades for the transfer [application].”

After successfully reaching the threshold required by the School of Business, Redinger enrolled in Queen’s for his second year of university. For him, it was a goal he already had in mind.

“It has a really good reputation for commerce,” he said. “Just getting into Queens is a big accomplishment and bit of a wow factor.”

Redinger put in his transfer application to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre, alongside a pair of Personal Statement of Experiences, on Feb. 1. 

He had to wait to receive confirmation of whether or not he’d be attending Queen’s in the fall.

“Every day, seeing ‘your [application] has been submitted,’” he said. “Until July 28 or something and it was ‘you’ve been accepted.’” 

“I was like, ‘oh my god.’”

While he ended up in the program he had been hoping for since he started at university, Redinger said the speed at which transfer students find out about their acceptance could be improved.

“Finding a house and setting everything up in Kingston in July is a pain in the ass,” he said. “Just going back and forth, back and forth, then straight into school. [Being accepted] earlier on would have been much easier.”

— With files from Nick Pearce

 

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