By Reagan Foster
Posted on: May 17, 2019
Ashley Pough, a senior at UofSC, enrolled in a transfer section of University 101 when she transferred to South Carolina for her sophomore year in fall 2017. For Ashley, the most valuable aspect of the class was being able to learn more about what the University of South Carolina offers for students. “I didn’t want to be just a number. I worried about finding my classes. I wanted to find ways to get involved…My U101 class really helped me by teaching me how to look things up, figure out how to purchase athletic tickets, access resources on campus, and find easy ways to get from point A to point B.”
Like all students enrolled in University 101, students in transfer sections are introduced to campus resources and opportunities that will help them be successful both in and out of the classroom. Ashley’s University 101 instructor, Viki Fecas, feels this is especially important for transfer students as it is generally more challenging for them to make friends and get involved on campus since opportunities to do so are often marketed toward first-year students living in the residence halls. Viki has noticed, over the years, that transfer students have to make the most of their limited time on campus, and she uses her class time and course assignments to help them do just that. “Many transfer students live off campus so their student involvement time is directly correlated with the amount of time on their parking meter.”
I didn’t want to be just a number. I worried about finding my classes. I wanted to find ways to get involved…My U101 class really helped me by teaching me how to look things up, figure out how to purchase athletic tickets, access resources on campus, and find easy ways to get from point A to point B.
-Ashley Pough, Transfer Student
In addition to helping students get acclimated to campus, and introducing them to academic support services and campus involvement opportunities, Viki works to create a strong sense of community within her classroom each semester. This allows the students in her class to connect with and learn from one another. She has found that this network of fellow transfer students is one of the most valued components of her class. The intentional community she builds also allows Viki to get to know her students on an individual basis, helping her tailor the course and her support to each student’s specific needs and personal goals. Viki did this for Ashley, in fall 2017, when she helped Ashley get involved on campus as a Career Ambassador in UofSC’s Career Center. Before retiring, Viki worked in the Career Center and knew Ashley would be a great fit for the job and encouraged her to apply. Ashley was offered the position and has enjoyed helping fellow students with their resumes, cover letters and career planning for over a year. Ashley says she would not have known about or applied for the job had she not taken University 101.
Though there are certainly some differences between teaching transfer students and teaching first-time freshmen – transfers being much more heterogeneous and varying widely in age, as well as college, work, and life experiences – Viki says the two groups actually have some common desires and needs during their first semester. “Many transfer students want the same thing that freshmen do – to better acclimate to campus and maybe make a friend or two in class.”
Many transfer students want the same thing that freshmen do – to better acclimate to campus and maybe make a friend or two in class.
- Viki Fecas, University 101 Instructor
However, Viki has observed that, unlike the majority of first-time freshmen she teaches in her other University 101 sections, the students in her transfer sections are not looking for a mother figure during their first semester at UofSC. “Transfer students don’t like the coddling…they are usually a bit older and know what to do.” Even so, transfer students come in with different levels of learning and knowledge about navigating campus, so some degree of personalized direction and assistance is still helpful. As a result, Viki typically serves as a mentor and advocate for her students, something her students seem to truly appreciate, especially after they have finished the semester and realize the difference her support and direction have made in their transition to UofSC.
Viki’s mentorship and advocacy certainly had an effect on Ashley. After completing the course in fall 2017, Ashley decided she wanted to help other transfer students – not just those in the transfer section of University 101 – have a successful transition to UofSC, too. She was inspired by a conversation she had with some friends from class about the initial difficulties they faced connecting with other transfer students and later founded the Association of Transfer Students, an organization that aims to provide transfers the opportunity to meet, get to know, and support one another. The organization, which started meeting for the first time in spring 2019, allows Ashley and her fellow transfer students to build their own network, much like the community she and her classmates enjoyed in University 101.