Minimal social interaction, online classes and limited campus activity prompted junior Mia Sette to transfer for the second time. She submitted an application to Elon when she learned the university had in-person classes. After receiving an acceptance letter, Sette knew she would be getting more than a typical college experience.
Sette was randomly assigned to live with two other transfer students in an Oaks apartment. One of them happened to be the President of Elon’s Transfer Student Organization, Claire Quinlivan. The three have been able to bond over their shared experiences.
“They made the whole transition really easy because they knew what I was going through,” Sette said.
Though Sette had no knowledge of the TSO at first, her roommates encouraged her to attend the meetings, which have become a space for transfer students to connect and support one another — something Quinlivan felt was lacking on campus when she transferred in fall 2020.
Quinlivan said the desire to ease the transition for students sparked discussions with Director of Transfer and Special Admissions James Thurnes and Transfer Student Coordinator and Assistant Director of Academic Advising Rebecca Krylow. The conversations ultimately led to reinstating the TSO.
“James and I decided this was a group that we wanted to bring back no matter what,” Krylow said. “We saw a need for the students, especially given COVID-19 and everything that was happening, and for the group that was transferring starting last fall.”
Krylow said she believes students were excited to mold and shape the group as they deemed fit.
“They saw the investment that Elon had in them as transfer students,” Krylow said. “We wanted to support their transition and then give them the opportunity and empower them to support the transition of future transfer students.”
Thurnes said while he and Krylow offer support and serve as the liaison between students and the university, they still want the organization to remain student-run.
Quinlivan said the organization did not have a specific structure in its earlier stages, but it was a group of students looking for a sense of belonging and guidance on how to navigate an unfamiliar environment.
“We spent a lot of time talking about what we wish we had, specifically with things like orientation and just having a little bit more,” Quinlivan said. “We noticed after orientation there was no follow up, no, ‘hey, let’s have more like events for transfers,’
there was really nothing put in place.” Director of New Student and Transitions Programs Emily Krechel said in comparison to other universities, Elon has a relatively small transfer student population. According to Krechel, the university expects over 60 transfer students coming from four- year colleges or universities.
“These are students who are hungry for a first-year experience,” Krechel said. “We are mindful of that as we plan the transfer student program for them.”
Krechel said the transfer student orientation is similar to that of the program for freshmen. Transfer students use orientation to understand the basics of how the university operates: Phoenix card, meal plans, building access, tutoring, advising support and health services.
“Our transfer orientation experience mirrors a lot of what the first-year students do,” Krechel said. “It’s the same sessions in large part, but with a different lens. The conversation might be a little deeper because they have that experience.”
Looking to the future of the TSO, Quinlivan hopes to build a mentorship program that matches a current transfer student with an incoming freshman.
“One thing we all talked about was how when we were coming into Elon, we didn’t have any connections to the school, we didn’t know any students, we didn’t know anybody other than our advisor,” Quinlivan said. “It’s hard coming in with absolutely no idea of what to expect, especially as a transfer student, which is a different experience.
Quinlivan and Sette agree the TSO can be an outlet for students if they need it.
“The fact that I love Elon so much makes me want to stick with this Transfer Student Organization even more,” Sette said. “Just to tell the incoming transfers that Elon is amazing you made the right decision. I know it’s scary, but being a part of this organization as an incoming transfer student is the right move.”