UTD transfer students beat out state graduation averages



Forty-five percent of Texas transfer students graduate within six years, according to the Texas Tribune. As UTD has a six-year transfer graduation rate of 73.1%, The Mercury decided to look into how this trend applies to Comets, how transfers fare at UTD and how transfers can use the resources UTD offers to ensure their graduation.

Transfers at UTD graduate at much higher rates than the national average, thanks to resources like the Graduation Help Desk, advisers and transfer student services available to helping transfers with common issues, such as transferring credits from other institutions and transitioning from community college life to university life. The 2015 study cited by the Texas Tribune, made by Community College Research Center and Aspen Institute said that the national average of transfers students graduating within six years is 48%.

According to the UTD Common Data Set report for the most current academic year, 2022-2023, 21,617 undergraduate students were enrolled. Of those undergraduate students, 1,660 of them were transfer students. The 2017 cohort offers the most recent transfer graduate statistics; 73.1% of transfer graduated within six years, according to the UTD Graduation and Retention Trends Dashboard.

Joshua Ortiz, a 2023 graduate with a bachelor’s in computer science, said that although he did not have any issues transferring his credits to UTD, he ran into the issue of not having one credit hour to qualify for graduation. He had the equivalent of ECS 1100, a first-year introductory computer science class, which UTD considers a four hour credit class, but Dallas College considered it to be only a three hour credit class. Therefore, that class was transferred as three credits instead of the four credits that UTD required.

“I was actually gonna be withheld by another semester … My gosh, that was so much stress throughout those last few months trying to figure out, ‘Ok, what do I need to do?’” Ortiz said.

Ortiz said he is thankful for the adviser he was assigned because they were able to appeal to the president of UTD so he could graduate. The Graduation Help Desk at UTD is a resource transfers and non-transfers students alike can reach out to overcome obstacles, like the one Ortiz went through, to ensure timely graduation.

“I have already mentioned this to my friends at that time too, saying, ‘Hey, because you’re a transfer student [you should] double check your transcript and have a chat with your adviser,” Ortiz said.

Ryan Slack, senior director of the office of admissions and enrollment, said transfer students with a lengthy academic history struggle with credits transferring because they are not always applicable to a degree. He recommends prospective transfer students have a clear plan for their education, so they can have a seamless transition from community college to university. Slack recommends transfers contact their community college advisers as soon as they can if they are planning to transfer to UTD, so they can be put in touch with an adviser from UTD.

“We want to try to eliminate any instance where they’re taking courses that they don’t need,” Slack said. “The earlier we can talk to them [prospective transfer students], the better.”

Francesca Timm, a biochemistry senior, said that the biggest help for her and other transfer students to ensure their success and graduation at UTD is having a communicative adviser. She said her academic adviser, Allison Valenzuela, promptly offers guidance when asked.

“She has seen both me and my grades go through tough semesters and has been empathetic and encouraging,” Timm said.

However, an academic adviser is limited to only giving students academic support. Navigating campus, finding one’s place and creating a good work-life balance can be daunting for new transfer students.

Timm and Ortiz said that heeding other transfer students’ advice and taking advantage of the resources available to them has been their biggest help at UTD. Connecting with other transfer students provides support that academic advisers cannot. Transfer students can take advantage of events specific to meeting other transfers, like Transfer Services’ “Coffee and Conversation” social.

“Fellow transfer students are able to provide a more recently informed perspective on classes, the professors and the class workload,” Timm said. “Gaining insight into the realistic time and effort needed to successfully pass a course has been very helpful when it comes to planning out my other classes for the semester.”

Transferring to a new school is difficult, but Slack recommends prospective Comets make use of the Transfer Mentor Program, to connect with other students in their situation, as well as Transfer Student Services.

“Take advantage of the resources that they have at their community college level, work with those advisers,” Slack said. “Here at the university, we have a whole team of people that are available to work with prospective transfer students and have that conversation early on, so we can help them plan out those classes so that they have a smooth transition to the university.”



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