A committee was formed to look at ways of bringing more transfer students to the University of Dallas at the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 27.
The board approved this measure as part of a three-year fiscal plan, which hopes to gain fiscal stability largely through increased enrollment and improved recognition.
The plan emphasizes “annual increases in net tuition revenue based on an aggressive plan to identify new tuition revenue sources and management of the tuition discount rate,” according to a summary of the board meeting.
Specific strategies approved in the meeting include a general tuition rate increase, a decrease in discounts offered to incoming freshmen and an increase in transfer student enrollment.
Transfer students are not currently eligible for all of the scholarships available to incoming freshmen, and therefore their tuition per semester tends to be more than for students who begin and end their college careers with UD.
While members of the administration praise the class of 2021’s size and record-breaking SAT scores, the financial burden of the scholarships awarded to the current freshman has prompted re-evaluation of the feasibility of the current scholarship offers.
Many transfer students are older, are classified as upperclassmen by credits, or live near campus. They therefore do not live in campus housing at the same rate as freshmen, which allows the university to grow the size of the student body without the burden of finding housing on the already cramped campus.
Director of Admission Elizabeth Griffin Smith manages the admission processes for both incoming freshmen and transfer students. She says that while the committee has not outlined any concrete plans yet, it is currently analyzing the average net income the university draws from each transfer.
“I don’t really know what they’re going to ask us to do or what number they’re going to ask us to get, but we would definitely have some time to do some things differently in the spring if needed,” Smith said. “Students don’t even begin to think about transferring for the fall until they’re well into their spring semester, typically.”
There have been just under 200 applications from potential transfer students in the past three years, and 40 new transfer students enrolled this fall. Smith says that anywhere from 40 to 60 students could be considered average enrollment for the fall, plus a handful in the spring semester.
Both Smith and Registrar Kathy McGraw focused on easier degree planning as a way of encouraging commitment from those students who inquire about and apply to transfer.
“I think in the past perhaps the transfer students hadn’t been able to extrapolate from [the credits they bring in], ‘how long will it take me to finish a degree at UD,’ because a certain amount of those credits could’ve been elective credits,“ Smith said. “So I think there was a little bit of a disconnect for some transfers between how many transfer credits they were getting and then knowing how long it would take them to finish their degree.”
To that end, Kay Haaser, assistant to the dean, has been meeting with potential transfer students who know what major they’d like to pursue in order to construct a more detailed degree plan for them.
“I think that will be helpful for them and might encourage some more students, who we’re already getting in as applicants and admits, but maybe aren’t ultimately deciding on UD,” Smith said. “Having a little bit more certainty about how long it’ll take them to finish their degree I think will be helpful to convince some of those students to choose UD.”
McGraw is working on a variety of programs to make degree planning easier for undergraduate students, but especially hopes that upcoming programs will help potential transfer students who have not met with advisors.
One possible change, which could be implemented in the summer, is an alternative to Bannerweb that would give students the ability to see the classes required of their major and check their schedules and plans against it.
McGraw is also working to ensure that transfer students are on the proper email lists, with their graduation class, so that they can receive timely notification of graduation application deadlines and other requirements.
For some, like senior human sciences major Stephanie Lobo, the process has been worth the UD experience.
Lobo came to UD as a freshman,but transferred to Texas A&M before returning to UD.
“[Coming back] was a really hard decision,” Lobo said. “I would have to spend an extra year at UD which meant not graduating with my class, that year of extra tuition, and a lot more reading.”
She decided to return because she missed UD’s community.
“I called Dean [Jonathan] Sanford, who was new at the time and whom I had never met,” Lobo said. “He was extremely caring and supportive … that made me decide to go back immediately, no matter how much longer it would take me to graduate. While I was away, I also had professors like Dr. [Robert] Yale and Dr. [Amy] Borja sending messages jokingly asking me to come back. That meant so much to me because I felt truly wanted. I have really never experienced such a loving community before, but I didn’t realize it until I lost it and longed for it so badly.”