Registration poses difficulties for transfer students

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Once admitted to UT, transfer students are absorbed into the University’s vast student body. But unlike other student groups, their graduation rates go unrecorded. 

Registration for transfer students typically occurs weeks after continuing students pick their classes for the semester, leaving fewer options for those students who register later.

Of the roughly 11,000 students admitted to UT for the fall of 2013, nearly 3,000 of them transferred to the University from another post-secondary institution, according to the UT Office of Information Management and Analysis. 

“The first semester can be challenging given that new transfer students often register after continuing students and may be bringing in lots of transfer credit,” said David Spight, assistant dean for advising at the School of Undergraduate Studies.

UT’s four-year graduation rate is unaffected by transfer students. Because the University only measures incoming freshmen, it has no measurement for the time it takes transfer students to graduate. 

“Most colleges and universities do not track time to graduation for transfer students,” Spight said.

Every transfer student is required to complete at least 60 hours at UT to receive any degree, which sometimes results in transfer students taking a number of electives instead of courses that meet a specific degree requirement, Spight said.

Journalism junior Jessica Brown said she has been forced to take numerous unnecessary electives during her time at UT.

“I have to take so many classes that I don’t need, just to get the hours,” Brown said. “The classes I do need fill up so fast, but if I don’t get them … I’ll just be here forever.”

Brown enrolled at Austin Community College in 2010 and is expecting to graduate from UT in 2015. Brown said she feels her extended college career can be traced back to her substandard transfer orientation experience.

“You’re treated differently as a transfer student,” Brown said. “I guess they assume that you know [which classes to take] because you’ve been to a college before. If I had known what to do, I might have been done much sooner.”

Niki Pham, a prospective transfer student from UT-Arlington hoping to major in nursing, said that she is already expecting a delayed graduation date because of later registration times.

“According to the nursing degree plan, I’ll already be behind in prerequisites when I get to UT,” she said. “And since I can’t register with other sophomores, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to catch up.”

But the setbacks are worth it, Pham said.

“It would be nice if they allowed transfers to register with continuing sophomores … but I’ll take it because I want to be [at UT] more than anything,” Pham said. 

Shelby Stanfield, vice provost and registrar, said the registration system is set up to manage the system load.

“When you have 52,000 students, they can’t all register at once,” he said.

The registration process works well for other transfer students, such as biology sophomore Francie Herriage-Wilson.

“I think — given our huge student population — the registration system works as well as it can,” Herriage-Wilson said. “I wasn’t able to get one class I need for my degree because it is in really high demand and fills up so quickly, but it won’t affect when I graduate.”